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POOR MAN'S
"LIQUID NITROGEN"
W. Beaty 2008

If you lack access to Liquid Nitrogen, then you can't break a frozen flower or make wind chimes from strips of lead sheet. You can't make LEDs glow super-bright. You can't even shatter a rubber band. But what if you could make your own "LN2" from easily available materials?

Well, you can't.     :)

But you can make a cryo-fluid having -110F temperature. (Liquid nitrogen is more like -320F.) A -110F liquid can perform most of the Liquid Nitrogen demonstrations.



DANGER! THIS IS A HAZARDOUS DEMO INTENDED FOR PHYSICS DEMONSTRATORS AND SCIENCE TEACHERS. IT HAS ALL THE SAFETY HAZARDS OF LIQUID NITROGEN. DEFINITELY NOT FOR KIDS!


NEEDED:

  1. Dry ice (several pounds) -78.5C deg
  2. 16 oz Isopropyl rubbing alcohol, 99% grade
  3. Scissors
  4. Large plastic cola bottle
  5. Small plastic cola bottle

INSTRUCTIONS:

As shown in the video above, use scissors to remove the tops of both plastic bottles. Poke many holes in the bottom and sides of the smaller bottle only. Place the smaller bottle inside the larger. There should be at least a half-inch space between them.

Buy dry ice pellets. (These are the ones which look like half-inch rods, or like "Cheetos.") If you can't find pellet-style dry ice, then instead chop your dry ice into chunks. The chunks need to be small enough to easily fit into the gap between the bottles. Make a couple of cups worth of the chunks.

Hold the middle bottle in the center of the larger bottle, then distribute the dry ice chunks evenly around it. Keep the bottle centered, and fill the gap several inches deep with chunks.

Slowly pour the 99% alcohol into the gap between bottles. It needs to become chilled by running over the dry ice. Lots of fog will form! Pour enough alcohol to make an inches-deep pool in the center bottle. DON'T TOUCH IT. Unlike liquid nitrogen, chilled alcohol freezes skin instantly on contact. To inspect the depth, just blow the fog away.

The alcohol reaches its lowest temperature after the fog has cleared and the dry ice is barely bubbling. It will become viscous; like light syrup. (If you didn't use 99% alcohol, it will become very viscous.)

Here are some common Liquid Nitrogen demos. Will they still work at -100F degrees? Experimentation required.
  • Freeze a rose or other flower. Shake off the alcohol, then shatter it.
  • Freeze some orange slices, then shatter against a wall
  • Use a frozen banana to hammer a nail into wood.
  • Try to bounce a small, frozen rubber ball
  • Stretch a rubber band on a ruler. Freeze it and remove.

Go find more Liquid Nitrogen demonstrations to perform! Some are listed below. Most of the ones based upon low temperature will work just fine. Of course the cold alcohol isn't creating nitrogen gas, so it cannot create fog clouds, explode a Pringles can, or glide across a warm surface. And because it's not making gas, it will cling to your skin and cause instant frostbite. Don't touch the stuff, and definitely don't spill it so it splashes. Treat it the same way you'd treat boiling water on the stove. There are many other safety hazards, but...


THIS IS A HAZARDOUS DEMO INTENDED FOR PHYSICS DEMONSTRATORS AND SCIENCE TEACHERS. IT HAS ALL THE SAFETY HAZARDS OF LIQUID NITROGEN. DEFINITELY NOT FOR KIDS!


LINKS


 

UNTESTED SUGGESTIONS

  • Try some 90% rubbing alcohol (70% gets too thick, like honey.)
  • Try making some "Poor Man's LN2 Adult Ice Cream" using lab grade ethanol
  • Freeze and shatter a rubber band or a latex glove
  • Form "Blue-tak" putty into nails. Freeze and hammer into walls.
  • Frozen, powdered olives, shrimp, brie
  • Icecream beads: drip melted ice cream into cold ethanol (not very alcoholic?)
  • A knife of ice is brittle. But what about Pyke-crete? Deadly sharp bannana?








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Created and maintained by Bill Beaty.
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