Potable Potions

Homemade root beer is always a sign of a special occasion at our house, but there’s just something about fall and Halloween that makes this brew especially exciting.  The magic (and the science) is in the dry ice.  It’s available at most grocery stores, but you usually have to ask for it at the check out stand or at guest services.  Made of frozen carbon dioxide, this solid changes directly to the gas phase, without a liquid stage between (a process called sublimation).  In addition to the cool fog effect, the dry ice actually carbonates your drink as it dissipates! 

 (Be sure to use tongs or gloves when handling dry ice as it is actually so cold that it burns the skin on contact.  Obviously, this also means you must give adequate supervision for children as you use this substance.)

We usually make our root beer following this recipe.  Be sure to use a container with plenty of room at the top before adding the dry ice.  Your liquid will obviously rise as you add the ice, but it will also begin to bubble like a witch’s couldron.  Likewise, don’t seal your container while the ice is still doing its magic.  Trapping in all that gas will build up quite a bit of pressure, and you may have an unintentional root beer bomb on your hands!

If you’re looking for a spooky drink on a simpler scale, try this drink from Quirky Momma.  It was just the thing for my crew as we carved our Halloween pumpkins last night.  The boys loved watching the dry ice “boil and bubble” as they waited for it to be ready to drink.  (Quirky Momma also gives a good list of safety tips and FYI’s for those who haven’t used dry ice before.)

In addition to being a fun and exciting science experience, these potable potions help create a memorable scene that builds connections and creates lasting memories. 




Filed under Celebrate!, Learning through Play and Experience, Snack Time

15 Responses to Potable Potions

  1. Science doesn’t get much cooler than that. Love it! :)

  2. OK, where do you buy root beer extract?

    • notjustcute

      I usually find it in the baking/spices aisle, up by the vanilla and almond extract. A bottle usually runs at least $3. Not necessarily the most cost-effective root beer you’ll have, but it’s tasty and darn fun!

  3. That giant bubbling cauldron of root beer is absolutely awesome!

  4. Rachel

    So I cant touch it but i can drink it?

    • notjustcute

      You don’t want to touch the dry ice directly because it is so cold it will burn your skin. The root beer itself will not be cold to that degree and you don’t serve it until the dry ice has dissipated, so you don’t have the same hazard. Touching dry ice in its solid form is your only concern. (If you’re doing the spooky drinks at the bottom of the post, I would recommend waiting until the ice has dissipated before drinking and using a straw to avoid contact with any solid ice.)

  5. Amanda,

    I love this! I’m on the search for things to add to our “Fall To Do List” and making homemade root beer made the list! Dark drink and a caldron looking experience are sure to thrill! Thanks for the post! Here is a link to my pinterest page of growing fall to do ideas! I’m looking to make a list like East Coast Mama did for summer! http://pinterest.com/dharland/fall-to-do-list/


  6. Irene

    I made this and was disappointed in the color. It was pale like ginger ale. We jokingly called it Albino Root Beer. The taste was good, tho I made it with half of sugar and half Splenda as there are two of us that are diabetic. Next time I will also use more dry ice. It fizzed out too soon. I read in the comments on the link for the actual recipe that one person said to use CONCENTRATE instead of EXTRACT. I bet that would make a difference. However, I don’t remember seeing that at my Walmart.

  7. Daphne

    Could you maybe place the dry ice in a bowl and set the root beer on top? So you can drink it without waiting and still have the smoky effect?

    • dan

      no because the dry ice gives it the carbonation so it tastes fizzy like root beer. and you can buy the correct syrup at any store that sells stuff to make beer or wine. if you look, i am sure there is one in your town.

  8. Pingback: Weekend Update | The Nanny Diaries

  9. My kids would LOVE this!!! I need to make it with them!!!

  10. Pingback: Drinks from Around the World

  11. Pingback: Have A Hauntingly Delightful Halloween | Our Family 2 Yours

  12. Pingback: Do You Have a Halloween Ritual? « Betty Vasquez

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *