My church is having Vacation Bible School this week with the theme of “Fiery Stories From The Bible”. Each night a different teacher presents a Bible story where fire plays an important role. Moses and the burning bush; Elijah on Mt. Carmel; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; tongues of fire; etc. etc. Who knew the Bible could be a pyro’s favorite book?

My assigned topic was the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire that led the children of Israel through the wilderness.

As a visual aid I used a simple little ‘trick’ to create a pillar of cloud as pictured above.

What you will need:

  • 5 pounds dry ice pellets
  • 2 gallons hot water
  • Large stock pot (16 qt. or larger)
  • Work gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • A sturdy table and/or sturdy stand

You may need to do a little research to find a local retailer who sells dry ice. One tip is to try calling local beverage distributors. I do not recommend using blocks of dry ice, as dry ice in pellet form is much easer to manage. Dry ice costs about $1.50 – $1.75 per pound.

To create the effect, slowly pour the dry ice pellets into the pot of hot water. Bam… instant cloud. You may not want to use all 5 lbs. of dry ice at first. By holding some back you can prolong the display by adding the rest to the water about 5 minutes later.

Before you do this demonstration in front of a live audience you should practice it several times. There are several factors that effect the reaction including water temperature, amount of water, amount of dry ice, and how quickly the dry ice is added to the water. By experimenting with these factors you will learn the right combination of each to produce your desired affect.

Safety tips:

  • Keep your audience a safe distance away. The reaction will cause the water to violently boil and possibly splash out.
  • Use work gloves & safety glasses. You will be working with extreme temperatures. Dry ice is -109˚F and will quickly cause frostbite with direct contact.
  • Ensure that the stand you use to elevate the pot is very sturdy and cannot tip over.
  • Pray.

With this simple and inexpensive object lesson you can demonstrate the pillar of cloud that led the children of Israel through the wilderness in a way that will interest both children and adults.

Safety first. Enjoy!