Dry ice without a doubt causes the coolest cocktails. At negative 109 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s extreme cold temperatures can make it dangerous if you don’t know how to handle it. I was always terrified of using dry ice but I did a ton of research before my Haunted Mansion-themed Halloween party and now can confidently use dry ice in cocktails for years to come. I was frustrated that it took me so many years to figure out how easy it is to use and handle so I’ve compiled everything I wish I’d known for you here.
This article was updated with more photos and information on 1/10/21.
Can I safely use dry ice in drinks?
Absolutely! Dry ice sinks to the bottom of drinks and doesn’t harm your drink at all. In fact, you’ll have the most well-chilled cocktail of your life. What you don’t want to do is to consume the dry ice in its solid form. Luckily it sinks and stays out of your way and once it’s done smoking, it’s totally gone. I still wouldn’t serve it to children, who might tilt a glass too far and let the solid form touch their lips. If you do want to serve dry ice to kiddos, there are some cool containers available online that you can use to contain the dry ice until it evaporates.
You’re telling me I can absolutely put dry ice chunks directly in drinks?
Yes, you absolutely can.
How does dry ice work?
Dry ice skips the liquid stage of melting and goes straight from solid to gas so as soon as it hits liquid of any kind, the solid chunks of ice turn into smoke. Once it’s done smoking, the dry ice has completely evaporated.
What kind of drinks work best?
Juice-based drinks and cocktails work best. I tried dry ice in an iced coffee with milk and it looked like a science experiment, so avoid dairy drinks and cocktails. I did successfully put it in straight orange juice for a Halloween breakfast and it worked perfectly! I’ve not tried dry ice yet with carbonation but I’m thinking we should avoid that.
Where can I buy dry ice?
Many grocery stores carry dry ice. I got mine at my local Kroger. It’s in a special storage container. You’ll want to pick it up by the top part of the bag so that you aren’t touching the ice. Alternatively, you could also wear latex gloves to be safe.
How far ahead should I buy it?
Dry ice will completely evaporate in 24 hours so it’s best to buy it as close to the party as possible. My mom graciously picked up dry ice for me two hours before my Haunted Mansion party.
How should I store it?
DO NOT put it in the fridge or freezer. I know that’s counterintuitive because it’s ice but dry ice is so cold that it doesn’t need (and shouldn’t be) chilled in any way. Dry ice releases carbon dioxide and should not be kept in an air-tight container. It could cause it to explode! The best thing to do is to set it in an empty ice chest (as in, no additional ice is needed) with the lid off or ajar out of reach from kids and pets. Keep the bag sealed until right before serving. I keep the leftover dry ice bag back in the ice chest and left it in the garage overnight.
It’ll keep longer if you only break chip off what you need, leaving a large hunk overnight. If you have some leftover the next day, put it in your morning juice! I mean honestly, why not?
How should I transfer it?
If your drive from the store to your house is more than ten minutes, open your car windows. You don’t want dry ice to be in a small, closed space.
What tools do I need to have on hand for my party?
Make sure you have latex gloves, a hammer, tongs, and a towel. Put the gloves on before you work with dry ice just to be safe. Lift the bag by the top plastic part, set on one-half of a towel, tear the bag to it’s open by a couple inches, lay the other half of the towel on top, and use a hammer to gently break dry ice into chunks. I like fairly large chunks, about 2-3 inches in diameter. Tear the bag open and use tongs to set dry into your cocktail.
What should I expect putting dry ice in a cocktail or drink?
Have the camera ready because it will start smoking immediately! It looks best for the first 3-5 minutes or so but will continue to bubble and smoke slightly for up to ten minutes. You can drink it while it’s still smoking and bubbling. You’ll be able to see the dry ice hunk at the bottom of your glass. Out of ten cocktails, one of my friends’ hunk turned into slush at the bottom of the glass. To be safe, I poured water on top of it and tossed it in the cooler to dispose of the slush. It smoked and evaporated. Remember: you do not want to consume any solid form of dry ice.
Here’s a brief video on dry ice safety:
I hope you found this information useful! With a few safe handling tips, dry ice can be a fun and fabulous addition to your party.
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