A spooky fog spills out of a pumpkin cauldron, creating a scary, but fun look on Halloween. This is how most of us envision dry ice. Let’s face it: it’s a great way to create special effects!

But, dry ice also has many practical household uses. The thing is, people don’t usually think of dry ice as practical. Perhaps it’s because people are intimidated by dry ice. Frozen carbon dioxide, dry ice is very cold at -109 degrees Fahrenheit. It must be stored and handled carefully to avoid injury. However, if you follow the proper precautions, there’s no reason to worry.

Wondering about the practical applications of dry ice? Read on to learn these unexpected household uses for dry ice:

Mosquito Repellant

Because dry ice sublimates into CO2 gas which attracts mosquitoes. It’s how they find us! Since people (and animals) exhale carbon dioxide, mosquitoes use this as a locating mechanism. So, by setting out stations of dry ice aware from where you want to spend time outdoors, you can draw the mosquitoes away from you. It’s a great solution that allows you to enjoy time outdoors, even at the height of mosquito season.

Freezing or Refrigeration

As you know, dry ice is extremely cold. This makes it ideal for keeping food frozen or refrigerated when you don’t have access to electricity or other methods of refrigeration. You can generally store dry ice in a special holding container in a cooler or even in a refrigerator when the power is out. Ask your dry ice provider for details about the amount of dry ice you’ll need to keep your items cold.

Dry ice is also great for flash freezing items like fruits without allowing them to get soggy. Because of the extreme cold, you can freeze pieces of fruit in a styrofoam cooler along with the dry ice in as little as 20 minutes. Then, you can move the fruit to the regular freezer.

Carbonated Beverages

Did you know that you can make carbonated drinks using dry ice? A small amount of dry ice in the bottom of a bowl of punch will carbonate it. Or, you can use root beer extract, water, and dry ice to make root beer!

Remove Dents

Dry ice can help remove dents from metal surfaces such as cars. After wrapping the dry ice in a soft cloth, rub the ice around and over the dent in small circles. The dry ice will cause the metal to become cold enough that it will contract and eliminate the dent.

Getting rid of dents this way is quick, effective and cheap!

How to Store and Handle Dry Ice

For any of the above uses, you need to use proper dry ice handling and storage methods. For handling, make sure you use work gloves or hot pads and tongs or other utensils to move the dry ice. You can, of course, break the slabs into smaller pieces using a knife. However, your skin should never come directly into contact with the dry ice.

Dry ice generally requires ventilation. Because it sublimates into carbon dioxide gas, it could potentially suffocate you, leaving you without oxygen. So, when driving for an extended period of time with dry ice in your car, leave a window open for ventilation. In your home, if you put dry ice in your refrigerator due to a power outage, make sure you have good air flow through your kitchen when you do open the fridge door. The best place to store dry ice is in a styrofoam cooler.

In general, be careful about where you leave dry ice. Always supervise children and pets around it to ensure that no accidents take place.

What about disposal? You’ll have to wait for the dry ice to evaporate. Never flush it down the toilet or force it down a drain. This could cause the pipes to freeze, which could, in turn, cause the pipe to burst or become clogged. Instead, allow it to evaporate on its own. You can run warm water over it to speed up the process if you’d like.

Dry ice is for more than spooky setups and science experiments. It has real, practical uses! So, next time you want to keep the mosquitos at bay, remove a dent, or keep your food cold while camping without lots of slush, purchase some dry ice. With a little care while handling, dry ice is the perfect tool for many household tasks.