Uses of Liquid Nitrogen
Liquid nitrogen is an amazing substance that can be used in a variety of ways. Medical procedures, science experiments and even to make ice cream. Nitrogen is a gas that comprises approximately 78% of the air that we breathe. Liquid nitrogen is a product that is made by compressing the air and heating it until the gas is changed to a different state of matter, liquid. When a liquid form is achieved the oxygen in the mixture needs to be separated out. This can be done using the same process that is used at a distillery to separate the water from the alcohol.
The liquid that is removed by the compression of nitrogen is extremely cold, with a temperature of -320 F. Only two other substances are colder and they are liquid hydrogen with a temperature of -432 F and liquid helium with a temperature of -452 F. You cannot just take this product and carry it around in a jar. It must be stored in a Dewar, which is a large thermos type of container. It consists of an outer layer and an inner layer separated by a vacuum. A liquid nitrogen Dewar has a loose fitting cap to allow for the expansion of molecules as the liquid works to get back to its gaseous state. Dewars must be refilled at liquid nitrogen fill stations as most small quantity users do not have storage space for large amounts.
Now that we know what liquid nitrogen is, what are the practical uses for it? Because of the extremely cold temperature of liquid nitrogen, any cells that are touched by it will be instantly frozen. After freezing cells will die and fall off. This allows liquid nitrogen to be an effective treatment for wart removal or the removal of small skin cancers.
Warts which are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), can be found on any part of the body. Plantar warts, genital warts, and common warts are transmitted by touch. All can be treated by removal with liquid nitrogen. The procedure can take up to three visits with your doctor during which time liquid nitrogen will be put directly on the wart and little by little the skin cells will die off. This procedure is called cryotherapy or cryosurgery. The number of treatments required will depend on the location and the thickness of the wart. Healing should occur in one to three weeks during which time you may suffer from mild blistering, redness and peeling at the site.
Cryotherapy has many advantages over the surgical removal of warts and is more effective than other topical treatments. There is far less chance of infection from an open wound. There is also less chance of the wart returning to the treated site. Liquid nitrogen is an exceptional addition to the doctor’s array of medical choices.
There are many other uses for liquid nitrogen. Check out some of the sites listed below:
Cooking With Chemistry: includes in-depth instructions on how to make liquid nitrogen ice cream.
Liquid Nitrogen Demonstrations: what happens when you submerge a balloon in a bowl of liquid nitrogen, or flash freeze a banana and try to hammer a nail with it?
1001 Things to Do With Liquid Nitrogen: a resource of fun and exciting experiments to try with liquid nitrogen.
Liquid Nitrogen Safety: rules to make using liquid nitrogen a safe thing to do.
Frozen Sperm: a resource discussing the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze equine sperm for insemination.
Freeze Branding: using liquid nitrogen to brand animals using super-cooled irons rather than traditional branding.
Cryogenics: the process of producing very low temperatures and the effects of those temperatures.
Cryonics: a description of the preservation of bodies no longer considered viable in the hopes that they can be thawed and reanimated at a future date.
MRI and Liquid Nitrogen: the super cold gas is often used as a coolant for the magnets used in an MRI.