Dry Ice Safety

Before handling and using dry ice it is important to understand its properties and potential hazards, and familiarise yourself with actions to take in an emergency

Dry Ice Safety


  • asphyxiation - In high concentrations sublimed vapour may cause asphyxiation. 10kg of dry ice sublimes into about 5.4 m3 of carbon dioxide gas
  • extreme cold - Contact with dry ice can cause cold burns and frostbite


  • dry ice is carbon dioxide in solid state
  • chemical formula is CO2
  • a translucent, white solid; at normal temperatures sublimes directly into a gas without passing through a liquid phase
  • non-flammable
  • temperature of dry ice is -78ºC
  • asphyxiant
  • colourless gas with a slightly pungent odour which is only detectable in high concentrations


  • do not handle dry ice with bare hands; it can cause severe cold burns and frostbite
  • before using dry ice in any area, establish the risks involved
  • ensure you consider the potential of creating an atmosphere with a high concentration of carbon dioxide near the ground
  • only experienced and properly instructed people should handle dry ice
  • do not remove or deface any product labels
  • know and understand the properties of dry ice
  • establish emergency plans
  • always seek professional advice on suitable ventilation systems
  • use carbon dioxide monitors to warn of ventilation problems
  • never play games with dry ice
  • always keep dry ice away from children
  • water on solid CO2 increases sublimation with a corresponding higher risk of asphyxiation
  • always wear eye protection and heavily insulated gloves suitable for the extreme cold temperature of dry ice
  • dispose of dry ice in a well ventilated area away from the public.  Do not discharge into any place where its accumulation could be dangerous
  • take care when carrying packages of dry ice

BCGA guidelines Dry Ice (PDF 477 KB)

Dry Ice overview