Don’t try this at home: -196°C liquid nitrogen (cryogenic movie with Moby’s tune!)

July 1st, 2011 | Posted by greg in Daily life...

Fact number one: We work hard. Fact number two: We need to have fun at work too!

But that time we experienced something new to me. Even if it has been around for a while, reading the controversial articles in the press about accidents related to liquid nitrogen left me reluctant to try it ever since. While I was in Mumbai, things were different… You call the dude and he brings it to you half an hour later in a cryogenic container probably carrying it on the back of his bicycle.

Roughly, there are two real danger…

A very wide thermal exchange, like a lot of boiling water poured in a container of liquid nitrogen would explode (that’s presumably what happen to that young German chef who lost both of his hands…). And the other danger is sealing tight the container of liquid nitrogen. Since it “boils” the pressure will mount and the container will explode.

So, if you take it easy and follow the rules, it’s all safe. Oh yes… one more danger is frostbite. If you dip your hand in liquid nitrogen, it will freeze hard and you may break off your hand. But as you can see on the movie, dropping spoons of liquid nitrogen on your hand will just slide off. A thermal “pillow” creates around the hand since the temperature difference is so wide. Apparently, if you have cold hands you might get frostbite, so in any case, better not to try this! (Why did I try? Good question…)

On the movie, you can see the making of banana powder where we take a fresh banana, freeze it hard in the liquid nitrogen, blend it into a powder and it can be stored in the freezer for dessert use. We also made some chocolate ice cream by simply mixing cream, chocolate and a little sugar – pouring the nitrogen and whisking it until the right texture is obtained – no need eggs, gums, stabilizers and all the rest. Finally, we tried to freeze some raspberry marshmallow that I’ve made earlier. Very interesting crispy texture.

The goal of the experiences were not to create anything in particular, but rather to understand the physics behind liquid nitrogen.

I am still not a great fan of using it, but I thought it was really interesting playing with it… who knows, it might come handy soon!

Click here to watch the movie!

Music credits: Publishing videos on YouTube now requires you to have licenses for any music you use. That is good for commercial movies, but for little non-commercial flicks about pastry and cooking, I find the measure a bit arsh. Anyhow, a great supporting artist is Moby. He offers a selection of his creations available to use in such movies. Kudos to Moby! Thank you!!

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