I am reading Dan Broughton's answer in replying to the question "why does the gas from dry ice flow down" here.

According to the answer, the fog is water's color and water is condensed and suspended in the CO2. Do you agree with this answer? If so then should water have color? I see some documents saying that it is nearly colorless.

Why does the gas from dry ice flow down?

Dry ice is simply the common term used for solid carbon dioxide (CO2), so the gas coming off of the dry ice is CO2 gas. CO2 gas has a density of 1.96 kg/m^3 and air (78% N, 21% O2) is 1.29 kg/m^3. Since the CO2 is more dense, it sinks in air.

But CO2 is colorless, so what makes it appear as a white mist? As the gas sublimes (change directly from solid to gas), it comes off of the dry ice at -78.5 C (-109.2 F). Being well below the freezing point of water, any moisture in the air surrounding the dry ice condenses and is suspended in the CO2, creating the cloud/fog effect that we can see.

These two phenomena combined are what create the fog that flows along the ground.

  • $\begingroup$ Well, yes, the answer is mostly correct. Water doesn't have color, nor does the fog. $\endgroup$ Apr 15, 2018 at 22:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Also, being colder and denser, even a plain air fog coming off a cold object (e.g. dry ice in a plastic bag, vented away from the experimenter) will sink. $\endgroup$ Apr 15, 2018 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ Colorless as in invisible as gas at all. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Apr 15, 2018 at 23:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The quoted answer is correct. It just omits to mention scattering and reflection from water/ice minute particle. This is the core of your question. Why cola is dark and its foam is white is another question related to this, just in this latter example both forms are visible. $\endgroup$
    – Alchimista
    Apr 16, 2018 at 8:30

1 Answer 1


The gas flows downwards because it is more dense. It is more dense both because $\ce{CO2}$ is heavier than $\ce{N2}$ and $\ce{O2}$ and because the gas is colder than the ambient air.

The mist is water in the surrounding air condensing into microscopic droplets due to the lowered temperature. The amount of mist depends on the humidity of the air; in perfectly dry air there will be no mist.

All of the gases involved are colourless. The mist appears white because it is in small particles and so it scatters any light falling on it. It is the same colour as "natural" mist and for the same reason.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.