The Mysterious White Box

On March 31, 2020, a big white box with plastic wrapped around it got delivered to my house. My parents brought the big styrofoam box in and took off the plastic. They set it on the table, and my dad took the lid off. As he carefully placed it on the counter, we peered inside, and my mom’s expression changed into a big smile. 

 “Oh, it’s the meat we ordered!” She exclaimed.

It had been a few weeks since school had been canceled. A virus named COVID 19, also known as the Coronavirus, was spreading. It had started in China and moved its way around the world and is now considered a Pandemic. 

 Most of the stores have been closed except for essential businesses like grocery stores, pharmacies, the post office, and other necessary shops. People are allowed to go out only to get crucial supplies or to take a walk, jog, and do exercise. Most people, though, are buying their food online and getting it delivered to their house.

 As we stood there, staring at the package, my mom pulled out a few of the containers and observed them. The boxes read, “meatballs, steak, chicken.” She placed it on the table. At the bottom of the styrofoam box, there was a block of dry ice. The white cloud of mist slithering out like a snake from the box, intrigued me. 

During a Halloween party at my elementary school, one of the parents brought a fake cauldron that was a part of his daughter’s witch costume. He also brought with him a small cooler and a thermos. The dad put on a pair of gloves. He pulled out a rock-size cloudy object from the ice chest that he had next to him and placed it into the cauldron. He then opened the thermos and poured the clear substance into the pot. All of a sudden, fog started to pore out of the witch’s cauldron. I was astonished by this and asked the man what the cubed object he had put in the pot was. He explained that it was dry ice and that it is a solid form of carbon dioxide. He told me that the dry ice temperature is -100 degrees Fahrenheit and stated that if I touch it with my bare hands, it could burn me. I was amazed and, to this day, wondered where I could get a block of dry ice.

 The memory flowed back in my mind as I stood over the styrofoam ice chest, watching the fog dissolve into nothing. Excitedly, I eagerly asked my dad if we could experiment by pouring water over the dry ice. He said yes and instructed me to gather all the materials. I ran to the cabinet and took out a plate. My dad used a cloth to pick up the dry ice and placed it on the plate. At this point, I was able to see it more closely. It looked like an ordinary piece of ice with clouds surrounding the edges.

 My dad took the plate and placed it under the faucet, he turned the tap on, and water came pouring out right on top of the dry ice. The mist started to grow bigger and bigger. We all screamed with excitement as the piece of ice sizzled under the faucet. My dad turned the tap off and moved the plate to the counter. We were completely mesmerized as the cloud of gas bubbled over the plate. Then I took out a metal spoon and started pushing the ice around the plate. The metal against the ice made a horrible noise. It sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard, screeching from the top of the chalkboard to the bottom. The sound made my family and me cringe in disbelief.

Our quest was not over. I decided to dump the dry ice into a bowl as my dad filled up the tea kettle. We waited patiently as my dad prepared boiling water in our tea kettle. As soon as the whistle of the kettle blew, we all knew that the water was scalding hot. The steam of the water looked like a tiny ghost dancing into the air. My dad approached the bowl and asked if he should pour the water over the dry ice? We all stood there in anticipation and yelled, “yes, do it!”

As the hot steaming water poured from the kettle, the dry ice began to shriek with puffs of mist. It looked as though the dry ice was drowning and entirely engulfed in a cloud of fog. The sound it made reminded me of a pot of boiling soup. The noise bubbled and rippled fiercely as we continued pouring hot water over the dry ice.

Minutes later, my sister and I decided to take turns blowing the puffs of mist away from the dry ice. At one point, I blew so hard that I was able to see what was making the loud rippling noise. Covered by all the steam, the dry ice was making little white bubbles that would make a gurgling sound each time they would pop. It was enchanting to watch the white snowballs of gas grow before our eyes and in seconds pop into a gassy smoke.

As we stood there in awe, my dad explained to us that when dry ice gets placed into warm water, a cloud of mist forms. This cloud of mist is similar to the clouds we see in the sky. He said that the mist contains little water droplets that get trapped inside the carbon dioxide gas. After a while, the gas flows out and dissipates. The dry ice is so cold that it causes the water to compress the air, and that’s how the cloud of mist forms. There was only one problem, after all our investigation and tests, the large piece of dry ice that we initially had lasted about 45 minutes. Then it all melted away, leaving only our imagination as if it was a dream.