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What is dry ice?

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Dry ice is carbon dioxide that has been frozen to -78 degrees C. Due to the extreme coldness of dry ice, it must be handled with gloves. Also, as the ice thaws it gives off carbon dioxide and can lead to asphyxiation if you are confined in a small space without ventilation. Dry ice may be used to hold the temperature down in a freezer when there is a power outage. Use 25 pounds of dry ice for a half-full 10 cubic foot freezer, 50 pounds for a 20 cubic foot freezer. Put heavy cardboard directly on the food packages and then place the dry ice on the cardboard. The dry ice, if put in soon after the power outage, will keep a half-full freezer load frozen for 2-3 days and a full freezer load frozen for 3-4 days. Dry ice should not be used to chill punches. If a piece of the dry ice broke off and was consumed, it could result in tissue damage of the esophagus and stomach. Dry ice is not food grade.

PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, and Carolyn J. Lackey, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N., Professor/Food and Nutrition Specialist, North Carolina State University (August 2004)

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