Dry Ice when combined with hot tap water can produce vigorous bubbling water and voluminous flowing fog. For example, with 5 pounds of Dry Ice in 4 to 5 gallons of hot water, the greatest amount of fog will be produced the first 5 to 10 minutes. There will be far less fog for the next 5 to 10 minutes as the water cools down and the volume of Dry Ice diminishes. As the water cools, the fog becomes wispier. Dry Ice makes fog because of its cold temperature, -109.3 F or -78.5 C, immersed in hot water, creates a true water vapor cloud of fog. When the water gets colder than 50 F, the Dry Ice stops making fog, but continues to sublimate and bubble. The fog will last longer on a damp day than on a dry day.


For each 15-minute period put 5 to 10 pounds of Dry Ice into 3 to 6 gallons of hot water. This will make lots of fog depending upon the temperature of the water and the size of the pieces of Dry Ice. Hotter water will make more fog. Very hot water will add its own rising steam to the vapor cloud. If there is no steam the fog will flow down hill and in the direction of any air movement. A small fan can help control the direction. Smaller pieces of Dry Ice with more surface area produce more volume of fog and cool the water down much faster. In both cases the result is more fog for a shorter amount of time. Keep the water hot with a hot plate, electric skillet, or some other heat source to produce fog for a longer time. Otherwise when the water gets too cold it must be replaced to continue the fog effects. If the container is completely filled with water the fog will flow over the sides the best. But the Dry Ice sublimation will vigorously bubble the water and splash it out. Even a filled container will splash some so place the container where spilled water will not ruin anything. The water vapor fog will also dampen the area it flows across. Be careful because in time floors could get slippery.

50 to 100 pounds of Dry Ice dropped directly into a heated swimming pool will make fog for several hours depending on the water temperature and the size of the Dry Ice pieces. Because of the Jacuzzi's hot water, it makes the most fog the quickest. As long as the water is kept hot, it will take 50 to 100 pounds per hour. The Dry Ice will carbonate the water for up to several days. If possible drain the Jacuzzi. The swimming pool will read more alkaline during this time so wait to add acid until the carbonation has dissipated. If the temperature of the water in a swimming pool, fountain, waterfall, or birdbath is too cold (less than 60oF) the Dry Ice will bubble but produce little fog.

Application Amount Duration

Witches Punch (Warm cool aid) 3 to 5 pounds Up to an hour
Pumpkin 3 to 5 pounds Up to an hour
Witches Pot 5 to 15 pounds Up to an hour
Small Room with Fog (Use 2 Pots) 15 to 30 pounds Up to an hour
Large Room with Fog (3 to 4 Pots) 50 pound package Up to an hour
Swimming Pool (unheated) 50 pound package 1 to 2 hours
Patio (No wind) 50 to 100 pounds 1 to 2 hours

The best container to transport and store Dry Ice is an ice chest. It will still sublimate 5 to 10 pounds each 24 hours, so plan to pick up the Dry Ice as close as possible to the time it will be used. Dry Ice is very cold so use insulated gloves to handle it. Do not store Dry Ice in your refrigerator freezer. The extremely cold temperature will cause your thermostat to turn off your freezer. (But it will keep things frozen if your refrigerator breaks down in an emergency.) Do not store Dry Ice in a completely airtight container. The sublimation of Dry Ice to Carbon Dioxide gas will cause any airtight container to expand until a hole opens or it explodes.

It is OK to put food grade** Dry Ice into beverages for drinking. Use 2 to 4 pounds of Dry Ice for each gallon of room temperature punch. Use large pieces of Dry Ice not small pieces. The Dry Ice is heavier than ice and will sink to the bottom. Do not use any regular ice! The Dry Ice will do the cooling and must not be eaten or swallowed. Too much Dry Ice will freeze the beverage so have extra standing by if it all starts to freeze. It will bubble and give off the most fog when the beverage is room temperature. When most of the Dry Ice has sublimated, it will surround itself with ice and float to the top. There is still a little Dry Ice in the center of these ice pieces so do not serve or eat them. Carefully ladle the beverage into drinking glasses without any Dry Ice. Add regular ice to glasses for cooler drinks.

A first grade teacher gave the best recipe for "witches brew" to me:
1 can Grape Juice. (Dark color)
1 can Pineapple Juice. (Strange pulpy texture)
3-5 pounds of Dry Ice. (Do not use regular ice)
Mix room temperature juices together. When ready for special brew add the Dry Ice. Do not touch Dry Ice directly, but use insulated gloves. Ladle juice into cups without any Dry Ice and it will be perfectly safe. If you want cooler drinks add ice to the cups not the punch bowl.

Using a Fog Machine or buckets of hot water and a fan, many shows are enhanced by adding flowing fog. I have seen it most often in the dance of the snowflake fairies in the Nutcracker Suite. It is frequently used in Brigadoon and Okalahoma in their dream scenes.

A theater fog machine is generally a 30 to 55-gallon metal or plastic water barrel with a 110-volt or a 220-volt hot water heater to keep the water hot. Dry Ice is placed in a bucket with holes to allow hot water to enter. When the bucket is lowered into the hot water fog is instantly produced. The resulting water vapor fog is gently blown by a fan and directed to the desired area by an air duct tube. Fog stops whenever the bucket of Dry Ice is pulled out of the water.

A fantastic simulated volcano can be made in a sink with a garbage disposal. Run hot water and put one to three pound pieces Dry Ice into your garbage disposal. When you turn the disposal on it will make a marvelous eruption. 


Honda put on a spectacular introduction of a concept car for their Southern California car dealers. I created a wall of fog with four fog machines by placing two hoses three feet and two six feet above the ground five feet apart. The fog was so thick no one could see through it. A Newport Beach motorcycle policeman with lights flashing and siren blaring slowly drove through the wall of fog emerging in front of the dealers stand. The custom car came through next and stopped. The gull wing doors opened and a James Bond look-a-like in a full tux emerged from the car. An impeccably dressed cocktail waitress walked up and served him a martini. The applause and thanks afterward showed how much everyone was impressed. 

One women told us how sure she was that the paper bag full of left over Dry Ice from last year's Halloween would be available this year because she had never opened the bag during the whole year. Unfortunately there was no dry ice left - empty inside - but there was plenty of hardened frost around the outside of the bag frozen solid in the shape of a block.

I placed two fog machines at each corner of a wooden dance floor. When they were turned on the floor was filled with fog. The kids came in and sashayed around for thirty minutes until the fog machines were turned off. They were completely delighted. Later for several special dances the fog machines were turned on again filling the dance floor with fog.

Laguna Playhouse built a large 20-foot long ship for the final scene of a play. It was rolled out on stage with four actors on it. A mechanical devise rocked this ship back and forth. When the stage filled with fog and the curtains opened, it really looked like the ship was in the water gently rocking back and forth. The fog flowed around the ship and poured off the stage into the audience.


Caution: Keep Dry Ice away from children if they cannot be closely supervised at all times.

Dry Ice temperature is extremely cold at -109.3oF or -78.5oC. Always handle Dry Ice with care and wear protective cloth or leather gloves whenever touching it. An oven mitt or towel will work. If touched briefly it is harmless, but prolonged contact with the skin will freeze cells and cause injury similar to a burn.

Store Dry Ice in an insulated container. The thicker the insulation, the slower it will sublimate. Do not store Dry Ice in a completely airtight container. The sublimation of Dry Ice to Carbon Dioxide gas will cause any airtight container to expand or possibly explode. Keep proper air ventilation wherever Dry Ice is stored. Do not store Dry Ice in unventilated rooms, cellars, autos or boat holds. The sublimated Carbon Dioxide gas will sink to low areas and replace oxygenated air. This could cause suffocation if breathed exclusively. Do not store Dry Ice in a refrigerator freezer. The extremely cold temperature will cause your thermostat to turn off the freezer. It will keep everything frozen in the freezer but it will be used up at a faster rate. It is the perfect thing if your refrigerator breaks down in an emergency. If Dry Ice has been in a closed auto, van, room, or walk-in, for more than 15 minutes, open doors and allow adequate ventilation before entering. Leave area containing Dry Ice if you start to pant and breath quickly. This is the sign that you have breathed in too much CO2 and not enough oxygen.

Plan to pick up the Dry Ice as close to the time it is needed as possible. It sublimates at 10%, or 5 to 10 pounds every 24 hours, whichever is greater. Carry it in a well-insulated container such as an ice chest. If it is transported inside a car or van for more than 15 minutes make sure there is fresh air. After 15 minutes with Dry Ice only in its paper bag in the passenger seat next to me, I started to breathe faster and faster as though I were running a race. I couldn't figure out why I was so out of breath until I saw the car air system was set in the re-circulated position, not fresh outside air.

Unwrap and leave it at room temperature in a well-ventilated area. It will sublimate from a solid to a gas. DO NOT leave Dry Ice unattended around children.

Do not leave Dry Ice on a tiled countertop as the extreme cold could crack it.

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