How To… Safely Dispose of Dry Ice

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We’ve received one package this holiday season packed with dry ice. The lobster tails inside are a much-appreciated gift, but we were left wondering what to do with the dry ice. Some helpful tips follow, and it’s important to heed them because misuse of dry ice can harm your home and your health.

Dry ice is solidified carbon dioxide. As the -109°F substance absorbs heat, it turns directly into a gas, releasing carbon dioxide into the air. So if you receive dry ice in any packages this season, please don’t leave it in your home to evaporate. The best thing to do is leave it outside, in a place that is out of the reach of children, pets, and the general public. We closed ours in its styrofoam container and set it on the fire escape. We will allow it to sublimate, then dispose of the container.

What not to do:

  • Do not attempt to dump dry ice in a sink or toilet. The extreme cold will harm sink and toilet parts and pipes.
  • Do not dispose of dry ice in garbage receptacles or garbage chutes.
  • Do not leave dry ice in an unventilated room to evaporate. It will release a build-up of carbon dioxide into the air that can cause rapid suffocation.
  • Do not place dry ice on a tile or laminate countertop. Instead, use a solid surface – a wood cutting board or piece of plywood is best. Dry ice is sometimes used in tile removal and may destroy the bonding agent holding the tile or laminated material in place.
  • Do not store dry ice in a glass or air-tight container. Pressure will build up inside and could cause the container to explode.
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