Chemistry Primer

Making Ice Cream With Liquid Nitrogen

Chemistry Experiments

Ice Cream

  • Milk
  • Heavy Cream (Half and Half will do nicely)
  • Real Vanilla (not that fake stuff that's sold!)
  • Sugar
  • Liquid Nitrogen

    Equipment needed:
  • Stainless Steel mixing bowl
  • Wooden mixing spoon
  • Gloves
  • A big sink or a level placed out side

Now, if you are anything like me, getting liquid nitrogen seems like a challenge. It's impossible to walk into a grocery store and ask to buy some liquid nitrogen, it's best to get some flasks and to look for places that already have huge quantities of liquid nitrogen being stored. The sorts of places that have liquid nitrogen are: hospitals, physics labs, mortuaries, strawberry freezing factories, cryonics facilities, and anywhere that's using superconducting magnets.

The price is about two cents to $2.75 per 100 cubic feet depending on purity, which isn't anything important here, so get the two cent stuff. You will also probably need a container, which you can rent/borrow from the people that you are buying the Nitrogen from. Don't use a cooler, as it will not survive the trip.

Nitrogen has a boiling temperature of one hundred and ninety five point eight degrees below zero Celsius. In plain simple English, it's cold.

***Safety Note**** It's okay to touch the liquid nitrogen, as it will boil off and do no damage. However, do NOT try to squeeze it, in say your fist. It will result in a severe freezer burn-like injury that will require medical attention. And please don't heed my warning as a personal challenge. Chemistry can be a lot of fun but we must be responsible. ****

First figure out how much you want to make. Multiply the total amount of ice cream by five to get the amount of Liquid Nitrogen needed to freeze the ice cream. A gallon of ice cream will thus need five gallons of Liquid Nitrogen.

Mix the Milk, Cream, Vanilla and sugar in the mixing bowl. The ratios should be twice as much cream as milk and about 8 tbsp of vanilla for every gallon of liquid. Sugar should be about 1 cup dry measure per gallon. If that's too sweet then half it. I do not know how artificial sweeteners react to the cold, so I don't recommend the usage of them.
Mix the ingredients until the sugar has dissolved into the milk and cream. Add in any fixings (candy, coffee, other flavors). Move to the sink if you haven't already.
Pour in the Liquid Nitrogen slowly and mix with the wooden spoon until completely frozen, which should be about 10 minutes. Wear the gloves, because it's going to be cold.
For a better freeze, prepare the icecream in a pressure cooker, and after adding the Liquid Nitrogen, clamp shut for 5 minutes.
Show some courage and dig in!

If you want, you can be adventurous and change up the recipe a little bit. Other flavors can be made by replacing or adding with the Vanilla with your choice of:
Coffee (hot, strong and fresh is the best) - with a few whole beans - yum!
Cookie dough - either homemade or store bought will do.
Candy - A Milky Way is good in bits, as is Heath Bar.

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