Dry Ice is the common name for carbon dioxide (CO2) gas in its solid state. It gets this name because it must be cooled to ‘minus’ -78.5 degree Celsius to solidify, and also because when heated, it melts and changes to CO2 gas instead of a liquid (This process is known as sublimation).
It is no news that we all love the visual effects that are created with the use of dry ice by special effect vendors, Bartenders, Mixologist and Cocktails caterers. It has quickly gained ground since its introduction into the party and event scenes. However, there is a need to do some serious homework about the nature, use, storage, side effects and DANGERS of dry ice.
Dry ice should never be directly consumed and putting it directly into a drink without necessary precautions and caution to whoever is carrying and/or consuming the drink is quite dangerous. Here is why;
1: Inhaling the fog that comes from the dry ice sublimation process cuts down the amount of oxygen you are receiving because you’re inhaling Co2 instead of exhaling it. (NOTE to waiters serving drinks and guests picking up from the bar)
2: As you enjoy the fog, ripples and other visual effects dry ice creates when it’s popped into a drink… it starts shrinking until practically hidden in the fog or floats to the top of your drink and whichever way you do, you swallow some dry ice by mistake. Directly or through straw (trust me, it’s easy to do).
3: If the dry ice attaches to your oesophagus or stomach wall and freezes a bit of your flesh tissue solid (you will experience the sharp pain of being “burned’) and you may get a life threatening ulcer or some other major medical condition. Thus, in a case such as this, imagine this happening to a guest at an owambe or a shinding that you are the Cocktails vendor? Frightening eh?
Please note: You might not necessarily be poisoned by drinking a liquid that is directly cooled by dry ice. At normal atmospheric pressure, there may be some gaseous CO2 dissolved into the liquid thereby giving it a mild carbonation. However, dry ice can be dangerous to bare skin, mouth, tongue and internal tissues if someone swallows a piece of it (It has been known to happen).
Now the question you need to ask yourself as a vendor is; How have you been serving dry ice to your guests and clients? Are you taking the necessary precautions and following safety guidelines and rules.
And to you planners, consultants, coordinators, and clients.. are you more about the theatrics and less about the safety of the event and guests. It is extremely important for everyone to ask pertinent questions and try to be knowledgeable as well. Remember, Google is your Friend.
Do not get me wrong, you can still use dry ice to create the effect you want without having to compromise safety standards or jeopardize the health of the consumers. Have you ever heard of Misty Stix? They are a sort of plastic guard for dry ice in form of swizzle sticks , it works by popping the dry ice pellets into the plastic sticks and dropping the plastic into the cocktails or drink, voila! You get the same visual effect but no dry ice remnant or particles is going directly into the drink.
A cheaper alternative is to get a nice container the same height with your glasses and use as your dry ice container. Tuck in between the other drinks to be served on a well arranged tray and create the same mist effect with your staff knowing fully well that the dry ice container will and cannot be picked by clients or guests because it is strictly meant for the theatrics and effizy of the service
Hopefully this little article will help guide and open someone’s eyes today to know the right thing, learn the right thing and do the right thing.. Always remember “Safety 1st”