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Dry ice effects make a really cool traditional Halloween display; but it can be messy and requires some work and preparations, and you need to be aware of some safety concerns.

Warnings:

Do not touch dry ice; it will burn bare skin!
Do not put it in your mouth!
Do not put it in beer – the frozen CO2 turns beer bitter (don’t know why this happens; it just does)!
Large dry ice displays can be messy; not recommended for indoors.

Dry ice is expensive; it costs around $25.00 for a 50lb block. Storage is a problem; use a Styrofoam chest or a large freezer for storage -- as soon as you make it or get it, it starts dissipating, so if you are buying it in bulk from a dealer this is the last thing you pick up. You can also rent a tank of CO2 and make your own dry ice on site as you need it.

Tools:

1 50lb. block of dry ice; this is enough to make three 15-20 minute large displays and several small 10 minute pitcher or punch bowl sized displays
1 pair heavy insulated gloves
1 hammer
1 large meat cleaver or heavy blade (Don’t use the good knife because dry ice makes steel brittle and may shatter it.)
2 ea. 5gal. green plastic buckets (or cauldrons)
20 or more green Chemlight glowsticks (or clones)
Lots of HOT water

Procedure:

Chop off enough fist sized chunks of dry ice from the 50lb. block to cover the bottom of a 5gal. bucket (or cauldron) to a depth of around four inches or so. Fill another 5gal. bucket with hot water. Place the bucket with the dry ice where you want the display to occur, such as at the top of the front steps or on a stand. (This display works best if it is elevated a bit because dry ice fog is heavy and flows down hill.) Pour the hot water into the dry ice bucket, filling it right up to the brim – this will be a bit messy at the start. Be prepared for copious amounts of instant fog and foaming hot water! Throw four or five Chemlights into the display bucket so the whole thing glows. After a few minutes, add more hot water to the dry ice bucket to keep it filled and hot.

Notes:

This is really fun, but you will need to practice a bit to perfect the display. Dry ice fog flowing down a flight of steps is the coolest thing ever. Keeping the dry ice bucket full of water helps the fog flow over the lip of the bucket. If the dry ice chunks are too large, they become encased in frozen water ice; this can be chopped off to recover the dry ice for the next display. Do not add dry ice to hot water as this instantly makes a huge mess – add hot water to the dry ice only so you can control the spillage. Chemlights become dim when the water gets cold -- revive them with hot water.

Small inside displays:

Put several shot glass sized pieces of dry ice into a pitcher (or other vessel), fill with hot water to the top; toss in a couple of Chemlight sticks. This will create a nice ten minute display which you can repeat. You may also toss a few pieces of dry ice into a punch bowl; but don’t let anybody eat it!

Another spooky dry ice effect:

Dry ice stresses and shrinks metal which can cause it to squeal with loud, peculiar and eerie noises when it comes into contact with dry ice. I use a 2” x 2” x 2’ long piece of scrap aluminum bar stock and a 2’ x 2’ x 1/8” stainless steel plate to create these effects. (You can also use a solid brass faucet or another hunk of whatever solid metal – experiment!) Wear your gloves! Take a fist sized chunk of dry ice and press it onto the metal; move it around until you find a “Sweet spot” where the metals shrieks loudest and then play with it to change the volume and quality of the noise. Some people find this effect very disturbing – like fingernails scraping a chalk board; but the sounds you can create are rather unique and eerie.

Happy Halloween!
 

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a submersible aquarium heater set at the lowest setting possible should do the trick. you can buy them for about 10.00 at any fish store.
 

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Great write up. A few things though. Never store dry ice in a freezer. Dry ice worst enemy is air movement and that is the only thing that happens in freezers. Keep it stored in an ice chest. When dry ice is added to any liquid, it makes the liquid carbinated. hence the reason the beer will taste bitter. If you add it to water and taste it, it will be carbonated but it won't hurt you. If you have a large chunk of dry ice in water and it stopped fogging, it is because the water has become too carbonated. Not because the water has become cold. Just replace the water and it will start fogging again. Thanks for the write up. I like the idea about stairs, too bad I don't have any though.
 

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Thx for the tips..i and i do know about dry ice..i bought some for my "coudron" last year..my glove fell off and i picked it up..it def burns...
 

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That is a great post harmonicaman. Another one that the kids love is taking a jackolantern and putting a small dish at the bottom with hot water and dry ice. The fog pours out of the face. It is a great effect.


-Tucker
http://dryicenetwork.com
 

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Good post...I was looking for options for my Cauldron Creep, sounds like I'd need maybe 200lbs for a 4 hour haunt...not worth it, imho. I'll probably rig up a fogger.
 

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has anyone ever used dry ice to cool their fog machine? We were thinking about it this year. We run the fog through a cooler with ice over top of the fog chamber. The colder the fog, the closer it stays to the ground and I have 10 foggers at my party.

Dave
Norfolk, VA.
 

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I personally haven't, but I read a few threads last year about it, and if memory serves, the consensus was that it works fine to keep the fog low, but you burn through a heck of a lot of ice.
 

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Regular frozen water ice works well. You can make it or buy it fairly cheap for huge amounts. I tell ya if I had a skeletal fountain or something like that I might consider this dry ice as an option to make it fog, as a fogger would not work to well and a humidifier is to expensive to just take the pump out of it.
 

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I've been using dry ice for our fog machines for a few years now and I love the effect.

I made a cooling chamber ( for lack of a better term ) for my machines using pvc fittings. I found a big "Y" that I use to load the ice into ( I can fit several fist sized pieces in there ), a drain strainer at the exit to break up the fog a little bit and keep stuff out, a reducer at the inlet side that I put close to ( but not against ) the nozzle for the fog machine. It is finished off with a couple of small pieces ( 1" I think ) laid lenght wise to act as feet to keep it from rolling over on me. I realize that this is not the most effecient way to make one of these things but it is easy to set up and store and I still manage to fog up the entire street with low laying fog ! I have to feed it every 20 minutes or so but that is no big deal as I stay out front to hand out candy anyway. : )

oops, almost forgot the lid on top of the Y ....
 
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