7 Tips for Using Dry Ice in Photos

The first time I used dry ice for a photoshoot was a little tricky, but now as a seasoned Dry Ice User, here are my best tips so you can use dry ice in your next photoshoot. 

  1. Bring Gloves and Tongs: Dry ice is -109*F… you read that right. NEGATIVE 109* farenheit!! That means you can’t touch it with your bare skin. Bring gloves and tongs to handle dry ice. I would also try to bring tongs made of some material that isn’t metal (wooden or silicon) because when you grab dry ice with metal tongs, it makes this horrific screeching sound that could make anyone’s ears hurt. 
  2. Bring a Hammer: Generally, dry ice is sold in a large, one pound block. My first time working with dry ice, I had to stomp on the block to break it up because the smaller the pieces, the better it fogs. The second time I worked with dry ice, I brought a hammer and it was much easier. 
  3. The More Water the Better: It doesn’t need to be hot water (which I didn’t know the first time around), but you do need a good amount of it to create a beautiful fog effect. I would recommend filling a gallon container with regular ole tap water. You can use an old milk jug, a vinegar container (like I did) or just buy a gallon of water. 
  4. Don’t Buy it in Advance: Dry ice evaporates quicker than you'd imagine, so buy your pound of dry ice as close to the shoot as possible. If you buy it the day before, it will evaporate before you can use it. It must be same day. You can buy it at Meijer, but be conscious of when you’re buying it, because sometimes it sells out around Halloween. 
  5. Store in Styrofoam Cooler: I’ve found the best way to transport dry ice is in a styrofoam container. You can buy these at your average grocery store. Locations can vary though. These coolers are often by themselves isolated away from any aisle you’d think to look for them. Mine were located by the front doors right next to the shopping carts. 
  6. Drive with your Windows Down: The dry ice lets off gas when it evaporates which can be dangerous to breathe in in large amounts. You don’t need to wear a mask when handling it, but you don’t want to be in an unventilated area, like a car, with it. 
  7. Use Movement: Once you pour water on the dry ice, it will start to fog, but the fog likes to stay put. So you’ll need to either wiggle the container that the ice is in or use a fan to get the fog to well- fog up.

Before you use dry ice, please check out the safety guide from the North Dakota Department of Health

Dry Ice Safety.pdf (nd.gov)