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Frostbite Theater

Squealing Dry Ice

What happens when a warm piece of metal comes into contact with a block of dry ice?

Announcer: Frostbite Theater presents... Cold Cuts! No baloney!

Joanna and Steve: Just science!

Joanna: Hi! I'm Joanna!

Steve: And I'm Steve!

Joanna: We just finished filming "How to Make a Cloud Chamber" and we have a block of dry ice left over.

Steve: What can we do with this thing?

Joanna: Hmmm... Well, one thing that's fun to do is to take a piece of warm metal and touch it to the dry ice.

Steve: Now, what happens, the warm metal touches the dry ice and it causes it to change from a solid to a gas very quickly. That's called sublimation. The gas takes up a lot more room, though, and it has to go somewhere. So, when the gas forms, it pushes against the metal object so it can leak out. But then the metal object touches the dry ice again. So you get these little shakings that happen that make the sound.

Of course, once it gets cold, it doesn't work so well anymore.

Joanna: Thanks for watching! I hope you'll join us again soon for another experiment!

-------------------- Suspicious Noise --------------------

Joanna: Steve!!!

Steve: It was the dry ice!

Joanna: Right!

Steve: I swear, it was the dry ice!

It was!

If you do decide to try this experiment yourself, please download and read the Material Safety Data Sheet for dry ice. If you don't understand how to handle dry ice safely, do not do this experiment.

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For questions about this page, please contact Steve Gagnon.