It seems like a no brainer but we should probably start this article off with a good ol’, “You probably shouldn’t try this at home,” disclaimer. Seriously, don’t. No matter how cool (literally) this experiment is.
The aptly named YouTube channel Crazy Russian Hacker is up to his crazy Russian hacking tricks yet again—this time with an experiment apt for the arrival of summer: He combined about 15 kg of dry ice with a beautiful hillside swimming pool. What we call dry ice is actually the solid form of carbon dioxide and, put simply, is extremely cold. The neat trick that frozen CO2 plays in normal atmospheric pressure is that it has the ability to skip over its liquid state and go from a solid directly into a gas.
This process, called sublimation, happens at a very cold −109.3 °F which, among other things, means that dry ice should never be handled with bare hands. You can actually see the Crazy Russian Hacker make this mistake a few times in the video as he reels from even the most brief contact with the dry ice. To speed its sublimation, and to trigger this awesome effect, chunks of the frozen CO2 are dropped into the swimming pool which causes quite the show. Plumes of carbon dioxide gas billow from the surface of the pool as the pieces appear to boil beneath the surface of the water.
Some may have seen a similar trick done with liquid nitrogen, which, as you can imagine, is vastly more dangerous. A few years back, an event hosted by Jägermeister caused eight people to suffer injuries and landed one person in a coma after tanks of the much colder substance were poured into a pool.
While the reaction isn’t toxic, what likely happened is that the cloud of vapor displaced the breathable oxygen of the pool goers, causing them to pass out. Though everyone recovered, the incident does mark the one and only time that Jägermeister wasn’t the most harmful liquid at a pool party.
We should note that although dry ice is more attainable and somewhat safer than liquid nitrogen (not by much, guys—really, don’t do this at home), similar oxygen displacement can occur. So if you’re thinking of making your swimming pool into a witch’s cauldron this summer, you probably shouldn’t swim in it. Over-inhalation of CO2 can result in hypercapnia, which, as we’re sure you can guess, isn’t too much fun.
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