The Dry Ice Bomb, Explained

What they found at LAX

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Four dry ice bombs were found in secure areas at Los International Airport this week, and two exploded. No one was hurt and nothing was damaged, but the local and FBI have joined forces to figure out who’s responsible.

But the sudden appearance of dry ice bombs at LAX begs a few questions.

What’s dry ice?

It’s the frozen form of carbon dioxide, the gas we all exhale and which freezes at minus-109 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s used to freeze food, de-gas storage containers, and create realistic mist haunted houses.

How does one make a bomb out of it?

It’s scarily easy. All it takes is pellets of dry ice added to a container of water. As the dry ice sublimates (changes directly from solid to gas) ┬áit expands, creating pressure inside the container, which eventually explodes.

Is it dangerous?

If the container is made of glass (or if there are metal pieces inside the bottle) then people could be injured from the flying shards. Also, dry ice is so cold that it causes frostbite.

Has anyone ever planted a dry ice bomb before?

Earlier this year, police arrested a Disneyland employee for planting a dry-ice bomb in a garbage can in the Mickey’s Toontown section of the theme park. Nobody was hurt, but that section of the park was evacuated. And in 2011, a police officer in Long Beach, Calif., suffered minor injuries from a dry ice bomb explosion.

Are dry ice bombs illegal?

In some places, yes. In California, making a dry ice bomb is a felony, punishable by steep fines and even jail time.