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.