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 (who knows, some of them may be true in some places), 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.  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.

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.

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Mad Scientist Potion

  • Author: Our Best Bites


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


  1. Prepare drinks if necessary in the beverage jars. Otherwise, pour the drinks into the jars.
  2. 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, 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.
 *Disclaimer: this post includes affiliate links, which just means that when you purchase items through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps us keep working hard to create recipes for you!


  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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. Yeah, don’t go ingesting dry ice! That would be bad. πŸ™‚ 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! πŸ™‚

      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!

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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!

  9. “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! πŸ˜‰

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

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

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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. πŸ™‚ Also, I love it that not all of your reipces and ideas are gourmet, as I don’t always like complicated and tricky.

  17. 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!

  18. 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! πŸ™‚

  19. Way way fun idea….i have always used dry ice at Halloween to make smoke bubbles. I get a cauldron add water, and several drops of dish soap, stir, and add dry ice. when it starts to react you get smoke bubbles, and if you catch them and clap your hand they pop and smoke come out. Kids, adults, everyone loves it. So will now have to add a fun drink to the list!!!

  20. We carried on my husband’s family tradition of making homemade root beer at school every year for years and years, so they, too, expected it.=) Usually on Halloween – the kids loved it!! Very easy to make: 5 lbs. dry ice, 5 gallons water, 5 lbs. sugar, and 1 bottle of root beer extract. This needs to be made in a 10 gallon container otherwise it will overflow all over. Ready to drink in 30 minutes! Yummy!

  21. Great. I’m the kindergarten room mom and I just got back from the store where I bought chocolate milk and thought I was cool. I guess I will be going back from some dry ice and koolaid.

  22. How long does dry ice last outside of the freezer? If I have a party Sunday afternoon and I buy the dry ice Saturday night, where would I store it? Sorry maybe this is a dumb question . . .

    1. Dry ice usually comes in a plastic bag. Leave it in the bag and wrap in several thicknesses of newspaper and in an ice chest and it should last for a long long time. It will melt a bit but should be ok. If it during the day and hot out, keep the chest in a shaded area. or inside the house.

  23. That is awesome…my kids are too little to appreciate that YET…but you can bet I will be making it when they are old enough…so much fun and so simple!!!

  24. This idea is so awesome! I’m glad I ran across it, my son’s birthday party is this weekend and I’m super stoked for him to see this! (He just turned 3!) So him and his little buddies will love it! Thanks! πŸ™‚

  25. My kids go to THE coolest preschool teacher ever. She makes Witches Brew with “crushed skeleton bones” (sugar), “Vampire blood” (root beer flavoring), and “the breath of a ghost” (dry ice). She makes it in front of them in a big cauldron and casts a spell on it. It’s their favorite.

  26. When I was in grade school, there was always one mom (Mrs. Nelson) who brought the dry iceand dressed like a witch, and every kid brought in a can of soda – any flavor. They ALL got poured into a big pot, and the dry ice was added. And we drank that. It was so gross, but we LOVED it!

  27. I’m still boggled that it’s okay to ingest the liquified dry ice… Is there anything in the dry ice, other than it’s super cold? I love this idea, just worried about even small chunks with kids, and have always been taught it’s not safe to drink. Even on Martha S, she says don’t ingest. Who knows.:/

    1. Dry ice is just solid carbon dioxide, which we’re totally surrounded by all the time. πŸ™‚ It’s how homemade root beer has been made forever and ever and I’ve had it sooooo many times at large-scale parties nearly my whole life and not a single person has ever had an adverse reaction. Martha is probably covering her behind. πŸ™‚ As far as the small chunks go, when you ladle the drink up, any tiny chunks will float to the top and “smoke,” so they’re super easy to spot.

      1. Dry ice doesn’t turn to “liquid”. It undergoes sublimation, a process when a solid becomes a gas. It sublimates into gas, the bubbles rise up through the drink, and then they pop and smoke.

    2. It is fine as long as you make sure the small pieces aren’t added to the drinking glass or cups when serving. You’ll know if a piece of ice got dropped in, it will have the fog or smoke coming off the cup. All you have to do is look in the cup. If you see a small whitish floating “thingy” just remove it!

  28. This is such a fantastic and EASY idea! I even volunteered to bring the drinks for my 2nd grader’s Halloween party tomorrow. This will totally impress those 8-year-olds! Thank you for the link to the dry ice finder. It saved me many gallons of gas and countless phone calls :).

    1. Just an update on the awesome 2nd grade party. I “voluntold” my husband to dress up as a mad scientist–complete with wig, goofy goggles, and German accent. It was awesome! The kids were mesmerized, and the teachers and other parent helpers were rolling in the aisles. Thanks, OBB!!!

  29. I love you Kate. You’re my gorgeous cooking hero. Now would you please post some food? Enough sweets already, I know it’s halloween, but we can’t eat candy and cookies and coolaid all week! Don’t our good friends to the southwest eat this week? How about some Mexican food? Can’t I tempt you by asking for something with LIME?

  30. Seriously- You think of everything. My son’s first birthday party is Saturday, and I had pretty much given up on the special effects drink cuz of supposed difficulty and expense. Thanks so much for all of your hard work- It makes my mom job a lot easier!!!

  31. THANKS for the idea. The 2nd graders LOVED IT! One told me I was more intellegent than him for figuring this out. hahahaha I just did a plastic cauldron & hawaiian punch & called it “Withches Brew”. I LOVE your blog!

  32. Great idea!! A couple ?’s……is it ok to use beverages that are sparkling or are carbonated with the dry ice? Also, will the dry ice be affected if ice cubes are added into the jars?

  33. I saved this post when I saw it last week and used your idea for my 5th grader’s Halloween party today. It was a HUGE hit! Thank you so much! My daughter and her friends kept telling me how awesome I was. lol Whew, cool for one more year! πŸ˜‰

  34. This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen! I’m so going to do this next year! BTW – I think your laundry multiplied over to my house, even though I live in NY. It’s all over the place! I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank you for the chocolate mummy cookie recipe. I made them for my son’s Halloween party. One girl doesn’t celebrate so I converted hers into a princess! Everything was a hit!

    1. Yep. It’s super super super super cold, so it will burn your hands if you touch it. When it combines with water, it sublimates and becomes a (safe) gas (although you don’t want to keep it under pressure).

  35. The dry ice will actually carbonate the drink if you put enough in. I have made homemade rootbeer over the years with it. Recipe:
    5 pounds sugar, one bottle rootbeer extract (found in the spice aisle), 5 gallons water, 8 lbs dry ice. Mix extract sugar and water well in LARGE container. Add dry ice a few pounds at a time, letting the dry ice ‘evaporate’. Takes about an hour. When dry ice is all gone, the rootbeer is ready! Don’t plan on storing the finished product; it looses the carbonation quickly.

  36. I loved it!!!Wanted to find dry ice easier in my country because it has no sites. This is awesome! Sorry for my english I’m from Brazil.

  37. So if I wanted to make an adult spooky drink, is dry ice okay to mix with alcohol? For example, if I did a fruity vodka drink, would it be the same? Thanks!

  38. I LOVE YOUR SITE! ! ! It’s easy to use and it has what it says it’s gonna have. No telling you one thing and then finding another when you get there. THANK YOU! ! ! Marty

  39. I know you have probably said it, but there were to many comments and maybe missed it. After you put the dry ice in the cups you can drink it right away and no one will get hurt? I guess to say, you can drink it with the dry ice in it or not? I would love to make this for my daughters birthday party coming up!

    1. No, you don’t actually put the dry ice in cups- definitely don’t let kids put it in their mouths! Just leave it in the serving bowl and serve the drink part.

  40. I did this as a wedding punch. The clouds encircling the wedding cake were lovely. The reaction of the guest would equal that of the kids. The preacher even wanted to know how that was done. Thanks for a great idea.

  41. hey, dont feel bad old haha 30 is young homie :)… im a 28 year old man… i came across your site while looking for some rad Holloween ideas… yur awesome !!

  42. Love all of your creative ideas! We are doing our first ever Halloween party for a mixture of young adults, teens and preteens. I will be using this idea along with many others you have listed. I am sure this will be a hit!

  43. About 40 years ago, as the room mother in a kindergarten class, I carved out the insides of a hugh pumpkin, put dry ice in the bottom and then a punch bowl. As I filled the “Pumpkin/punch bowl” I carefullY spilled some onto the ice. One little boy with wide eyes said “I ain’t drinkin that stuff”. I was also dressed in my witche costume that I had made from a dyed old sheet, and had a green face with warts. I still remember that little boy’s face.

  44. I volunteered to put on a Halloween Party for 6th & 7th graders at my son’s school on the 19th of October. With that being said, I love this idea and hope that the board will allow me to make this. I’m sooo site-up right now because I want to freeze a plastic glove with water in it, and then remove the plastic after it freezes to add to the punch. I hope this works, I think the kids will have a blast!
    Debra from Philly

  45. Thanks for the idea. our Halloween party is tomorrow. thinking if i could put it in a glass bowl in a witches cauldron that’d be fun too. would it work with apple cider?

  46. Hi there,
    I worked in a lab with dry ice and I’ve been really concerned to see the use in drinks. It really is very dangerous stuff. If it is accidentally ingested then it causes internal frostbite and emergency surgery is necessary to remove the entire stomach, it’s happened quite a few times since dry ice started getting used in cocktails. It also makes the drink it is in very acidic so even if not ingested as ice it could damage the teeth. If you do use it then it would be much safer just to have it as a mist around the drinks but I honestly do think the risk of it is just too great for use to make the drink itself smokey, especially for children. Sorry to be a big party popper.

  47. I’ve done this several times and it doesn’t have to be dangerous. For a Halloween party, I got a large plastic cauldron and inserted another container- a new 2 1/2 plastic paint can. The dry ice was put between the cauldron and the container along with a little water. The paint can contained ONLY the drink. It had the desired smoking effect, but since there was absolutely no contact with the dry ice, it was completely safe. (unless someone had knocked it over!) As long as you use two separate containers, it works!

  48. Hello everyone! I was surprised to see this and had to laugh about it, as I have done a variation of this every Halloween for years. “Smoking Root Beer” is what we call it in my house. Over the years, I’ve only had 3 people not like it and 1 three year old was actually afraid. (tho I think she was really afraid of me in my witches costume.) Anyway, It is simple to make and lasts thru the last trick or treater. It’s fun and easy to make. You need 1 clean or new five gallon bucket, I use inexpensive acrylics to paint the outside of the bucket black, but you can use black construction paper or even fabric to cover it or just leave it white. I cut out white paper ghosts and orange pumpkins and tape them on for decorations. Pour in 5 pound bag of granulated sugar and 1 gallon hot water. Stir to dissolve the sugar. When the sugar is completely dissolved, add 1 bottle of root beer flavoring, and 4 more gallons of cold water. Stir. 15 minutes before serving your goblins, break up 5 pounds of dry ice into about 3 or 4 pieces and add 1 piece to the liquid. Using a long handle serving spoon, stir often for about 15 minutes. Drop another piece of ice in when you are ready to serve. Use a large long handle ladle to fill the cups. Remember, dry ice will burn so make sure you do not get any in the cups. As the kids or adults cup up, I will scoop up a ladle of smoke and slowly pour it into a cup. Everyone loves when I do this. Also, the root beer will freeze around the ice and slow down or stop the smoke from happening, so every once in awhile, use a long handle pancake turner (metal) to break any coated ice. This will keep the smoke coming. Be safe and enjoy!

  49. Continued…I suggest you use a big container, perhaps a big brandy sniffer, and fill it with colored water then add the dry ice just before you’re ready to eat. The food or drinks would be in cups or bowls AROUND the “smoke” . It is really pretty. I did this once for a party my mom had and left a great impression. Kids would still see the “magic” but the dry ice would not present a hazard. Thanks for being thoughtful of others health.

  50. Could this work with beer or some sort of becera with alcohol?.. I know it’s really a kid thing, butI am having a Adult halloween party and think it is a great idea.

  51. Speaking as a room mother from years ago… do not put the dry ice in anything carbonated if you expect it to stay carbonated… it will go flat as can be and fast. If you have a metal “caldron” of some sort and put the dry ice in first, it will make the most awful (scary/fun) screech you ever heard.
    I did this when my son was in 3rd grade… there was a little boy who was new to this country who saw me walk in in full witch’s costume, pour the dry ice/bat’s blood brew and his eyes got as big as saucers. He grabbed his coat and booked.. Poor little soul. The teacher brought him back but I am sure he had stories to tell.

  52. Having read this I believed it was very informative. I appreciate you finding the time and
    energy to put this content together. I once again find myself personally spending way too
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  53. I’m glad to note that you say use smaller pieces but big enough that the dry ice won’t go into the serving cups. One warning when serving up larger portions of drinks with dry ice in (or even around them). Keep the area well ventilated and don’t add too much dry ice at one time!
    I was at one large party when I was a teen where there was a huge container filled with punch with a lot of dry ice in it on a table along with some spooky cookies and snacks. All of us kids were sitting on the floor to watch a movie before the snacks were served. My friend and I carefully sat right next to the punch bowl so we would be close to the snacks once it was time to eat. The amount of dry ice created a huge “cloud” that poured down around the table. While it looked really cool, it flooded the area with CO2, crowding out the oxygen and my friend and I nearly passed out from breathing in too much CO2 instead of regular air. Needless to say, we were not in such a big hurry to eat the snacks as we had thought we would be! Even this experience has not made me afraid to drink dry iced brews, but I’m now careful not to sit on the floor too close to them.

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