Mad Scientist Potion

When I was in Kindergarten, I remember our Halloween party so clearly. One of the room moms brought apple juice and dry ice for a witch’s brew and it has stayed with me to this day (I say that like I’m not 30…and if you think 30 is old, then I am sad and hope no one calls you old when you’re 30. Or maybe I do…) Even though it was just apple juice and a black plastic cauldron, we were all blown away.

Fast forward 17 years to my senior year of college when I was doing a presentation on Frankenstein and I brought the same magic potion to a room full of college kids. And they had the exact same reaction as we did when we were in Kindergarten. After that, it kind of became my “thing”; I am voluntold every year that I will be bringing the drink to the classroom Halloween parties and that it will be Witch’s Brew and that everyone is very excited. And by “everyone,” I mean the teachers.

This year, I decided the witch’s brew is fun and cute, but we should up the ante. Mad scientist style. Now…I’m going to show you guys some tricky techniques here and I need you to stay with me and not be scared or intimidated about what we’re going to do. Note: the sarcasm button is broken on my keyboard right now, so this is my way of telling you that there is nothing tricky and going on here. I also really want you to not send me hate mail and leave mean comments that I’m pretty much giving you a step-by-step photo tutorial on how to make Kool Aid. We are in the throes of full-fledged holiday/sick kid/book-writing/dog-ate-husband’s-dinner-then-got-sick chaos/laundry-is-reproducing-in-the-living-room-at-an-alarming-rate crisis at our house right now and I imagine I’m not the only one, so this is a super-easy way to knock the socks off your kids (and make their friends think your kid has the coolest mom ever).

You’ll need some glass jars (I got these apothecary jars at Walmart for under $10 apiece–2 1-gallon jars and 1 2-gallon jar, but you can always grab some on Amazon), drinks of your choice (I used Kool-Aid because it’s cheap and the kids who will be drinking it care WAY more about the “potion” than the fact that it is not even remotely gourmet, but you could use Sprite flavored with Jello, Hawaiian Punch, or anything else you can think of, even if it involves food coloring), and dry ice. There are lots of misconceptions about dry ice, but these are my experiences:

-Dry ice is not outrageously expensive. It’s about $1 a pound and you’ll need about 1 pound per gallon of potion.

-It’s not sold everywhere, but it’s not terribly hard to find, either. I used this Dry Ice Directory to find a place close to me that sold it. I live in a fairly small town in the middle of Louisiana and I found two grocery stores within 10 minutes of my house that sold it.

-It doesn’t keep for very long. Storing it in your freezer for a few days is not the best idea–you’re likely to open up the bag and find nothing there. I try to buy it at the very last minute and then keep it wrapped up in towels, paper bags, and an insulated cooler until I’m ready to use it.

It will hurt you if you’re not careful. You need heavy-duty gloves or even an oven mitt and some tongs. Don’t let your kids play with the brew unsupervised (although it’s pretty funny to watch your dog bark at and then hide from the dry ice clouds).

Place the Kool-Aid and sugar (or whatever drink you’re using) in the jars.

Fill the jars with water and mix well. See, I told you this was tricky.

Carefully (if I were REALLY smart and safe, I’d wear goggles, but my version of living dangerously involves breaking dry ice with a meat mallet and no safety goggles) break the ice into chunks that are roughly 4-6 inches long/wide somewhere. Basically, just try to not get them too small or leave them too big. Place one piece at a time into each jar, saving the rest to refresh the bubbling potion effect later.  The ice will sink to the bottom of the container and you will be ladleing into cups from the top of the container. Another option, to be safe and not accidentally ladle dry ice into individual cups, is to place the juice containers inside of a larger glass container that contains just the dry ice and some water. That way it bubbles all around the beverage you’re drinking, but not in it.  If you have other people serving themselves, I would suggest using this method, and not putting the dry ice directly into the liquid to avoid accidental swallowing.

I’m serious, kids and adults alike will freak out. It’s pretty fun.

Serve immediately.

If you’re patient, you can even offer to play the mad scientist and mix flavors together for the adventurous kidlets. Not super appetizing, but they’re kids and you’re (probably) mixing fruity flavors and not Sprite, Coke, Root Beer, and Mountain Dew or some other ghastly double-dog-dare combination.

Mad Scientist Potion

This fun "Mad Scientist Potion" is perfect for a spooky party!


  • Large glass jars or beverage containers
  • Brightly colored drink of your choice
  • Dry Ice 1 pound per gallon of potion
  • Heavy-duty gloves and/or an oven mitt and tongs


  • Prepare drinks if necessary in the beverage jars. Otherwise, pour the drinks into the jars.
  • Carefully break up the dry ice with a mallet or a hammer. Add one piece (about 4-6 inches somewhere on the piece) per gallon at a time to the drink containers and replenish the dry ice as necessary. Serve immediately, ladling the juice into cups and leaving the dry ice in the large containers. If you want to be extra safe (recommended), just place the containers of juice inside another container where the dry ice is, so you don't run the risk of ladling any dry ice into a cup.


  • Note: The 1 pound per gallon rule will give you about an hour's worth of potion. If you need 2 hours, you'll need 2 pounds per gallon, and on and on.
Author: Our Best Bites
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. Dumb question and somebody else may have already asked … but the cold didn’t crack your jar? I already have a 2-gallon jar, but would hate for it to get broken.

    1. Just make sure the drink is cold and the jar is nice and heavy. Don’t go using a flower vase or something you got at the dollar store. Don’t add too much dry ice and you’ll be fine! 🙂

  2. Loving this! Was totally just searching for what to make for a pre-school party on Friday, and now I know! Thinking I’ll dye the apple juice. Thank you OBB!

  3. Totally LOVE it! Doing it for family dinner Sunday, as that is when my grown kids/grandkids gather. Need to go see if I can find the jars at Walmart. 🙂 Also, I love it that not all of your reipces and ideas are gourmet, as I don’t always like complicated and tricky.

  4. HAHA – Voluntold – Love it! Now I know what the exact term is for everyone assuming/expecting me to bring my bread pudding to holiday gatherings! It just goes without asking anymore. Huh, voluntold ya so! LOL I have shared this link with a friend who is a room-mother this year for Halloween for some tweens.

  5. It still boggles my mind that people send you hate mail for stuff like that. Well, hate mail for ANYTHING! I apologize for idiots everywhere.

    On another note, I’m so excited to do this soon. Many times I do these kinds of things because I think they are cool, doesn’t matter what the kiddo thinks, haha! And I can’t wait to do it with homemade root beer next Summer!

  6. Dry ice will fog longer the colder your punch is…so get the biggest bang for your buck by using cold punch.

    1. On the dry ice supplier link in her post, they say it works better with room temperature punch.

  7. Ooooh so glad I read this! I am room mom’ing this year and was debating some sort of drink. Apple juice and dry ice, so simple and obvious but still I hadn’t thought of it!
    Another fun dry ice use, a big tub of water, dish soap and dry ice. It creates crazy bubbles that have “smoke” in them and release it when they pop. It’s pretty fun and impressive.

  8. This may be one of your funniest posts ever. It’s a great crowd pleaser and who says every treat has to be gourmet? I love it!

  9. Coolest thing I have ever seen (it does not take much to impress me). I love easy awesomeness. Thanks.

  10. Dry ice can also be great for a rainy day experiment with your kids. But a small piece in a thermos, add in mini marshmellow, chocolate, strawberries, etc. and they will freeze solid in just a couple seconds. Kids are facinated by how quick it happens and the texture difference on the marshmellows is crazy. Just be sure to use tongs, and let the food “warm” a little before letting the kids touch them!

  11. In petty positive you could and that would be AWESOME! Take a pic if you do it! 🙂

  12. What a great idea! Will it work to combine with the “glow in the dark” tonic water- just a bit in the kool aid? Think I’ll try it and up the ante a bit! Thanks!

  13. Cooooooooool. Still cool, and i’m 38. LOL Thanks for sharing how to properly do it, I had no idea!

  14. “Voluntold” is frickin funny! At first I was like, what the heck did she put, then the light bulb clicked and I chuckled out loud! Too funny! I love doing all this fun stuff for my son and my co-workers….now you make me wish I would have planned a Halloween party! Catered by Our Best Bites recipes of course! 😉

  15. I love using dry ice for things. Having worked in a grocery store that sells dry ice it doesn’t scare me to work with it. But funny story for your Wednesday (we all need funny stories on Wednesdays, right?) — when I was a teenager my family and I took a family trip across the states (from Idaho to Illinois – eight kids, 15 passenger van, non-stop driving). My dad wanted to drive without stopping as much as possible (as if there is such a thing with so many children in one vehicle together – isn’t there some unspoken rule about every child needing to go to the bathroom the moment one child mentions it?). My mom had a cooler next to her seat filled with sandwich meat, jams and peanut butter and she got pretty good at fixing food from the seat. To keep everything cool and fresh (and mostly dry) while we were driving, my dad would stop periodically in little towns and buy some dry ice to put in the cooler. This plan worked pretty well until we got to Iowa. We stopped in so many little towns all through Iowa and not a single store had dry ice. In one store, the grocery clerk we asked even laughed at us, thinking we must have been trying to trick her by asking if they had dry ice ( you know, cuz ice isn’t dry). Anyway, crazy story and doesn’t have much to do with anything but thought I’d share anyway. Thanks for the fun idea!

  16. I think I may need to try this…even if I have no kiddos around! 🙂 I’ve never seen this before, and it’s about time to relive my deprived childhood!

  17. Thanks for making me smile on this snowy-christmasy (even though it’s not halloween yet) morning. =)

  18. It says on the dry ice not to ingest, It must refer to the ice itself, not a drink made with it. Assumption, though, will google it to be sure, this is totally cool. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Ok so this is the pre-coffee, up way too late last night and then up too early in the morning brain asking…. so you can actually drink the beverage that has the dry ice in it? Because I so need to regain the cool points that I apparently lost on becoming mom to a teenager (a senior in high school no less the younger two teens still think I’m cool! especially if I make finger cookies and gourmet treats like lasagna with homemade noodles.)

    Thanks for the clarification!!

    1. Hooray! I’m not the only one who looked at this and thought, “Wait – you can drink dry ice?”

      1. Yeah, don’t go ingesting dry ice! That would be bad. 🙂 That’s why it’s important that you don’t break the pieces too small. When you’re ladeling it up, if you see a little white spot that’s bubbling and “smoking,” dump it out and try again. They’ll be easy to spot–it’s not like regular ice where you could miss it.

        1. I think this is really a cute thing for a party. BUT, for some reason, I don’t feel safe with dry ice going into something, even Kool Aid, I think this could actually make a child sick.

          Katie says in her reply, yeah, don’t go and ingest it. Tell that to a child and the will, thinking it will do its foaming thing in my belly.

          I heard of putting it as a display for Halloween but never in a drink. I have to think long and hard about this one.

          1. Dry ice is just frozen carbon dioxide. You are basically carbonating a beverage this way. The only reason you don’t want to eat an actual piece of the dry ice is because it is soooo cold and not made of water. Have some safe fun with it! 🙂

      2. I was wondering the exact same thing…. how quick does it melt?? I guess I am a worrier, but I would be scared it would burn some unsuspecting child…. but it does look awesome!!

        1. We did this when I was young for our family Halloween. But our cauldron was a 10 gallon water jug with a spicket (does anyone use that word anymore? )Anyway, someone painted it black and put big round eyes on it and we all thought it was awesome. The spicket made sure that we didn’t ingest any of the ice and it bubbled for ever!!! It was great!

  20. My dad always used this technique with homemade root beer for ALL (and I mean ALL) our holiday ward parties. A big hit every time. But, like you said, you can use ANY type of drink. I’ll have to dig deeper into finding dry ice. I’ve always been hesitant to “play with it” but really…I should get over it.

  21. I love this easy idea. Also, our Walmart even has a dry ice box next to the regular ice box….just in case others are looking for a place to check. =)
    I may just use this idea at our Halloween parties this weekend!

  22. This looks like so much fun! I’d love to try this when I have my own classroom. And I can’t believe people send you mean e-mails 🙁

  23. Silly question, but do you just ladle the potions out of the jars into cups for the eager children? So fun, I love this idea!

  24. We just did the “regular” brew (apple juice and dry ice) at my grandson’s party last Saturday but he was SO excited when he first saw the magic. Think how much more excited he would have been if it had been a Mad Scientist Potion instead! But, it was in our pretty green bottles, so there was that going on!