Instant Ice Cream with a Dry Ice Bath

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In this chemistry meets cooking activity, learners make carbonated, vanilla ice cream using dry ice and denatured ethanol, which are both inexpensive and accessible. This process to make ice cream is faster than using rock salt and water ice as the refrigerant. Use this activity to introduce learners to the process of sublimation and phase change and to provide a fun treat.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration


Materials List (per group of students)

  • bain-marie pot (or other submersible water bath pot)
  • cooler
  • hammer
  • hand mixer
  • paper bag
  • wire Coat Hanger
  • dry Ice (5 lbs)
  • denatured alcohol (1 gallon)
  • heavy whipping cream (1 cup)
  • half-and-half (1 cup)
  • sugar (3/8 cup)
  • vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
  • gloves
  • safety goggles


  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
      • Liquids
      • Gases
      • Changes of Phase

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • taste
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Ragan, Sean Michael


  • All rights reserved, Make Projects, 2011