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!

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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.
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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. this is dangerous! even a very small piece, if accidently swallowed can cause even death! please recant immediately!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. I’m not sure–I don’t drink, so I can’t say. Sorry I can’t be of more help! 🙂

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. Will alcoholic drinks have the same effect? I would love to shock my friends!! Muha ha ha ha !!

    1. We don’t drink alcohol so we can’t give advice on that, but I imagine it would be fine 🙂

  10. 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

    1. It just depends on the size of the ice you put in. It will bubble away for quite a while!

  11. 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.

  12. I am doing with with homemade bubble beer like Harry potter for halloween! So much fun!

  13. 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!
    Luv

  14. 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 !!

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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.