The use of air dusters has become quite popular in many parts of the world, especially the US. They have become a useful tool for ensuring that electronics, such as computer keyboards, motherboards, or hidden parts are rid of dirt and dust, thereby preventing accumulation and damage.
Air dusters can also be called canned airs. Air dusters are a form of compressed gases in a can for cleaning or dusting purposes. It is a cleaning agent that is good for getting rid of dust or dirt especially from hard to reach spots and objects (like electronics) that cannot be cleaned using water.
Air dusters contain ingredients that may include harmful substances which may cause side effects when inhaled. It is important to note that air dusters can be abused by persons who inhale the canned air to get “high” which can result in serious harm or death.
This is why they have age restrictions in many states in the US. That said, you may have noticed that your air duster gets cold and must be wondering why and just how cold it can get, or it could be that you’ve heard about it and you want to know if air dusters get cold and how cold they get.
How Cold Does an Air Duster Get?
Usually as low as -60° F to -51.5° F. The liquid sprays out at such a low temperature as you rotate, even though the propellant was originally high-temp liquid in the can.
This is quite extreme so you need to watch out for sensitive parts of your electronics because such temperature can produce a liquid that damages your appliance.
The coldness of air dusters has nothing to do with any external factor or action of the user, but a factor of the content of the duster.
Air dusters contain several gases, including Difluoroethane. As a substance, it is responsible for the cooling of air dusters. Difluoroethane is a liquid that, when pressurized at room temperature, transforms into gas. Therefore, it becomes gas when the pressure is released.
According to the Joule-Thomson Effect, “as the heat is drawn into the expanding gas, the surrounding air drops in temperature, which you experience as cooling”. This is a scientific process based on the interaction of gases and how they react to the environment.
Why Does the Air Duster Get Cold?
It’s quite impossible to explain this process without going into the scientific basics. Ever heard of a process called adiabatic cooling? It is a process that is tied to the science of thermodynamics.
This adiabatic cooling happens when there is a high pressure on gas and the pressure is released instantly. The pressure and the force with which it is released combine to create a cooling effect. Therefore, released air would seem cold, up to -51.5°F in many cases.
Gas can be compressed into a smaller space and the more the gas in a smaller space, it becomes liquid but the moment it is released into a larger space, it fills up the large space. This is another scientific mystery about compressed air.
When air is compressed, a can is able to accommodate about 10 times its normal size, this is why you find that the air it releases over time is way more than what a can of such size can ordinarily hold.
What Happens When You Turn an Air Duster Upside Down?
Air dusters are gaseous in nature but can turn into liquid when compressed into a can. This is why it is advised not to turn the can upside down before and when you press the nozzle.
The gas occupies the topmost part of the can, thereby preventing liquid from coming out when using it the proper way- with the right side up. This goes to say that, when you turn the can upside down and press the nozzle, the liquid is bound to come out first before you see air coming out.
This situation can be dangerous for your electronics or the item you’re cleaning with the air duster.
Remember that the major reason for using an air duster in the first place is to prevent using water on items that don’t do well with water. Also, the pressure will be affected and you’re not likely to get the desired results.
Why Does the Air Duster Freeze Upside Down?
The Air duster or canned air as one may like to call it freezes when turned upside down because of the expansion of the compressed heat reducing liquid, when passing through the aerosol system and turning to gas.
When the aerosol is applied for a long period, frost may be formed on the can due to the freezing of the surrounding air.
It is important to note that, if the operator of the Air duster dispenses too much on a sensitive surface, it may cause some damage to the item due to the immense pressure of the duster when used too close to the surface.
What To Do When an Air Duster Freezes?
One of the things you can do is to turn it off and let it sit on a table in its proper position for some time, usually between 30 minutes and 1 hour.
This is to enable the content to take its proper position, moving the liquid to the base of the can and allowing the gas to stay at the top-most half of the can. By doing this, you’ll be resolving a major issue and getting the pressure back.
What Happens If You Shake an Air Duster?
The can may release cold liquid instead of gas if you shake it.
Canned air is not normal oxygen that we breathe; it is a combination of compressed, liquefied gases that can be harmful to persons if they come in contact with it in a confined place or in a place where there is not enough ventilation to help the circulation of air.
This can manifest in drowsiness, respiratory problems, cough, and many other complications or even death. It is advised not to shake it else it will thrust out liquid instead of vapor.
This can damage the item the duster is meant to clean, especially if you’re cleaning a sensitive part of an electronic appliance. The liquid may also come in contact with the skin causing frostbite or other irritations.
In the case of frostbite, you should seek medical attention or try first aid by washing the affected place with soap and water and if, by chance, the liquid came in contact with the eye; you should wash off the liquid from your eyes using sufficient water.
Leaving the problem to fester can cause severe complications.
It is important to understand that air dusters get cold as a natural phenomenon. The presence of specific gases and their interaction with the environment is responsible for that. You should never attempt to heat up the air duster or put it close to the fire.
Also, ensure you handle the air duster in the right position to prevent freezing which may affect your skin and the item you’re cleaning if contact is made. Static is another major concern to watch out for as a result of contact between liquid from your air duster and a sensitive part of your appliance.