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This is a question Home Science

Have you split the atom in your kitchen? Made your own fireworks? Fired a bacon rocket through your window?
We love home science experiments - tell us about your best, preferably with instructions.

Extra points for lost eyebrows / nasal hair / limbs

(, Thu 9 Aug 2012, 17:25)
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We had a party at our house once,
and thought it would be cool to put dry ice in the drinks we were serving. Probably margaritas or something.

It was indeed quite cool, a horror movie shroud of fog crept over the brim of the glasses.

But looking at some of the posts here, I wonder what would have happened to anyone who swallowed on of the small pieces we were chucking in the drinks. Anyone care to speculate?
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 11:26, 28 replies)
It's just carbon dioxide, isn't it?
It can't have done much, if anything.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 11:29, closed)
It freeze-burns your skin if you touch it.
So on the inside, it must be a bit ouchy.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 11:30, closed)
Once it's in a drink it can't stay solid for very long at all, surely?
I don't know, it's almost a decade since I did any chemistry related stuff.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 11:32, closed)
Not very long at all, no, but it depends on the size of the piece.
If you managed to get one into your throat, or further, you would be looking at some serious convalescing.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 11:33, closed)
I have learned something today.

(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:19, closed)
It's suprisingly resilient.
it has a high latent heat of sublimation, so it needs a cockload of energy to turn it to gas.

It's really efficient at chilling drinks becauase of this though. I shared a big house in North London during my PhD and we pretty much perfected the bath of salt, dry ice and water for chilling beer. about 30 seconds for a can.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:24, closed)
i was thinking asphyxiation
Would it not give off loads of co2, starving the body of oxygen?
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 11:59, closed)
Not unless you inhaled it.
you don't breathe through your stomach.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:22, closed)

I was thinking there would be a constant stream of co2 coming up your esophagus, which would in turn be inhaled whenever you breathe.
(, Tue 14 Aug 2012, 8:39, closed)
nah, your oesophagal sphincter closes when you breathe.
Or at least it should.
(, Tue 14 Aug 2012, 10:29, closed)
It'll burn all the way down causing damage.
And will then turn into gas in the stomach. If it touches the stomach wall it could freeze that causing much pain and damage.

So yeah, it would suck.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 11:59, closed)
nah, it doesn't burn on contact. See below.

(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:24, closed)
Entertainingly painful rush to A&E at the very least.
With a significant possibility of agonised, writhing death.

I take it no one did?
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 11:29, closed)
It's pretty unlikely to do you any harm at all, if it was a small piece.
unless it managed to get stuck somewhere. It only freeze burns you if you hold it one place for a fair time. The heat from your skin causes sublimation and traps a tiny layer of CO2 gas between your skin and and the solid CO2, which acts as an insulator, preventing instant damage. Same reason you can put your hand into liquid nitrogen and take it out again without damage.

It might make your stomach feel a little cold and you'd get pretty burpy, though.

I handle dry ice without gloves all the time, it's fine. Probably shouldn't, but there you go.

/this reply nominated as an entry for "dullest post this week"
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:21, closed)
No, that's interesting.
Same as well as that thing on mythbusters where they plunge their hands into molten lead. Provided the hand is wet, you can get away with it for half a second.

Makes sense. If you swallowed it, it would only be making contact with a wet surface, or be immersed in liquid. Plausible, and I bet foggy burps would look fucking cool.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:26, closed)
having said that, a big lump would be an issue
because if it stopped at any point in your oesophagus you'd have a problem.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:27, closed)
Which is my point.
We're dealing with variables in what constitutes a "big" or "small" piece here, particularly if there are small or petite people involved.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:30, closed)
but it's a myth that it burns on contact with skin or flesh.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:33, closed)
I don't even want to think about that.
Frostbite of the voicebox. Ouch.

We did actually crush the stuff, so none of it would have been any bigger than say a sugar cube. These issues were probably thought of at the time, we were reasonably sober at the start of the party . . .
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:32, closed)
I still can't imagine that suggesting swallowing dry ice is the best recipe for happy drunken sexy fun time, though.
Or, indeed, happy drunken fun time full stop.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:29, closed)
well, no.
unless you've got a hot friend who's turned on by you burping fog.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:32, closed)
You mean you don't?

(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:51, closed)
not any more
she's now my wife.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 14:51, closed)
Getting married
never stopped my wife from burping.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 15:09, closed)
No - well as far as I know . . .
As you lot say, I had imagined it would cause some nasty freeze burns, and considering how quickly it would disappear down the throat, would do so in some nasty places.

I can't remember, but I would imagine we'd have been telling people "That's not ice, don't swallow it!"

Even so, it does seem a bit like russian roulette, looking back on it.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:23, closed)
Well - you know what Richard Dawkins says
"God looks after babes and drunkards."
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:31, closed)
Quite so.
We would have been doing large piles of drugs as well.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:39, closed)
I miss the days of partying with the science crew.
A friend of mine's a chemist, chemical engineer, whatever, and used to make his own hallucinogens, which he'd swap down the club for ... other drugs.

I remember spending a morning chilling with him in a cafe as we both came down, having an excellently detailed conversation, and realising that he'd just explained to me the minutiae of how black holes work.
(, Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:56, closed)

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