Top 5 Facts: Uses of carbon

1. Dry ice – Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide. It is frozen carbon dioxide with a temperature of -78.5°C and melts into a gaseous rather than liquid form to create the popular smoke effect.

2. Fizzy drinks – When held under pressure carbon dioxide dissolves in water, and it then causes bubbles on your tongue as it forms a carbonic acid as you take a gulp.

3. Carbon dating – The age of fossils and minerals can be found by using carbon-14 which is a radioactive isotope of carbon. This is covered in depth in issue 7 of How It Works.

4. Teeth whitening – Carbon is a key element involved in teeth whitening treatments, found as carbon amide peroxide in both dentist and over-thecounter treatments.

5. Fire extinguishers – A fire extinguisher containing carbon dioxide is mainly used for fighting electrical fires. The carbon goes back into the atmosphere without leaving any harmful fumes.