For making eco­nom­ical ice cream, liquid nitrogen cer­tainly isn’t the best choice. But for the bud­ding chemist looking to make a tasty treat from scratch — and draw a siz­able crowd on campus while doing it — it beats plain old ice any day.

“It’s a rather expen­sive way to make ice cream, but it turns out to be quite good,” said Murray Gibson, dean of the Col­lege of Sci­ence, who sam­pled ice cream whipped up on Friday after­noon by stu­dents in Northeastern’s chapter of the Amer­ican Chem­ical Society.

At 321 degrees below zero Fahren­heit — 77 Kelvin — when liquid nitrogen hits the cream and other ingre­di­ents, “it imme­di­ately cre­ates crys­tals,” said sopho­more Justin Roberts, the club’s vice pres­i­dent. “All it’s doing is freezing the cream really quickly.” The liquid nitrogen does its work in about 10 min­utes, far faster than tra­di­tional methods.

The liquid nitrogen quickly evap­o­rates, cre­ating a cloud that looks like smoke. That vapor cloud drew passersby on Krentzman Quad who might oth­er­wise be looking to start their weekend early on a warm Friday after­noon.

“It tastes dif­ferent from store bought ice cream,” Roberts said, sam­pling a gooey scoop of vanilla. “It’s a lot more like what you’d make a home.”

The start-​​of-​​the-​​semester event was inspired by a sim­ilar one held last year for first-​​year chem­istry stu­dents.

“We did it last year for the department’s new freshmen and it really went well, so this year we wanted to open it up to the whole school,” said Vicki Berger, a junior chem­istry major and the club’s trea­surer.

Even though the main draw was the ice cream made with liquid nitrogen, the bud­ding sci­en­tists real­ized that the process wasn’t fast enough to meet demand on campus. But how does one pro­cure ice cream that’s ready to scoop even faster than the batch made with liquid nitrogen?

Easy — buy it at the supermarket.