Bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble... it's time for another Halloween-themed food hack. This time, we'll be tackling the pumpkin cooler—an idea that has been done to death on DIY blogs around the internet. And there's no point in reposting something that everyone else has done, so I decided to change things up a little bit.
My version of a pumpkin cooler features dry ice, also known as The Stuff You Should Never Touch With Your Bare Hands. Okay, now that I've gotten that safety announcement out of the way: dry ice, when introduced to water, actually sublimates, or changes from a solid directly into a gas. That's why it creates a nice, cold fog that looks fantastic when pouring out of a pumpkin bowl.
I should note that the bowl lid should not be visible above the pumpkin—don't worry, I've accounted for that in the instructions so you don't make the same fool mistakes I made when making the cooler. Without further ado, here are the materials and instructions:
You'll need a few things to pull this cooler off:
- large pumpkin (the bigger the better)
- spoon or scoop
- bowl that fits neatly inside of your carved-out pumpkin
- dry ice
- regular ice
- Place the bowl you'll be using next to the pumpkin and mark the height of the rim. This is the height at which the pumpkin must be cut in order to fully disguise the bowl.
- Cut the pumpkin just above your mark, then scoop out all of the seeds and most of the flesh. Make sure you leave at least half an inch of flesh: don't carve all the way down to the shell itself!
- Place dry ice directly into the shell. Be sure to break the dry ice into smaller pieces before putting it into the pumpkin; my large ice caused my bowl to peek up over the rim of the pumpkin (which is less than preferable).
- Pour water over your dry ice—enough to submerge the ice. The ice will start bubbling and smoking a lot; this effect usually lasts for about an hour.
- Place your bowl on top of the dry ice/water.
- Place ice inside of your bowl, then place the bottles you'd like to cool inside of the bowl.
- Enjoy serving your guests with your "smoking" new pumpkin cooler.
I made two gigantic mistakes when creating this cooler: I bought a smaller pumpkin, and didn't account for the extra height that the dry ice and water would add to the bowl once I placed the bowl inside of the pumpkin. Don't be like me! Make sure you buy the largest pumpkin you can find—preferably at a pumpkin patch and not at the grocery store.
This pumpkin bowl would also make an awesome bowl for candy when handing out sweets to trick-or-treaters. It's not heavy, and kids will love the bubbling and crackling noises—not to mention the smoke pouring down the sides of the bowl!
And, if you tire of constantly refilling the bowl during the party and want to make it into a display, just carve eyes into the lid of the pumpkin and float a smaller bowl with a lit candle on the dry ice water. The smoke will pour out of every opening and looks great.
Other than the initial grunt work of cutting into the pumpkin and scooping out its flesh, this cool party trick is very easy to pull off... and impressive to your guests. Let us know how your pumpkin cooler turns out in the comments below (share pics!).
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