Your Easy Guide to Using Dry Ice
You’ve seen it flowing in from the wings onto the stages at concerts, floating ethereally in (and partially obscuring the full corniness of) boardwalk haunted house rides. Dry ice seems a bit like magic, on cursory thought. Of course, it’s simply carbon dioxide in its solid state—and we’ve just so happened to discover a wide range of practical and theatrical uses!
If you aren’t using dry ice something, you’re missing out. Here’s some info about the steamy substance and pro tips for completely reinventing your freezer game.
What Exactly Is It?
Plain old CO2… in rare form. For the manufacture of dry ice, highly concentrated carbon dioxide gas undergoes a sequence of pressurization, cooling, liquifying, and expansion that sounds more complex to the layperson than it is in practice. Dry ice has also become a vital part of the global shipping industry for its remarkable efficiency and duration as a cooling agent. It’s also becoming more and more commonly used by picnickers, tailgaters, those who prefer their beverages chilled to absolute perfection, etc.
What You Can Expect to Pay for Dry Ice—and Where to Find It
Dry ice is extremely affordable, usually selling between $1 and $3 a pound. Purchasing in bulk is a calculating way to have off a little extra. In addition, your local supermarket may (or may not) be a wholesaler. Megastores like Costco and Walmart widely keep it in stock for sale in bulk, but it’d be wise to call ahead and confirm before making the trip.
How Long Does It Tend to Last?
Well, that depends. Storage conditions: A slab of dry ice loves nothing more than to be the sole occupant of a well-insulated cooler. In these conditions, it’ll retain its form (and continue to steam when “bothered”) for up to three days. If your cooler isn’t exactly in ship shape, the timeframe might drop to a little less than a full day. And left out at room temperature, it falls to more like three hours—which is still pretty impressive!
How big of a chunk you’ve got: Common sense here, but the larger your block, the longer it’ll last, generally speaking. It takes 10 lbs. of dry ice around one day to burn out (or sublimate—that is, fully return to its gaseous state directly from solidity: the notorious “rippling smoke” process so many of us have delighted in since childhood is sublimation underway!), and this can be pretty handy to keep in mind.
Using Dry Ice in Coolers
- All-day cold: Following the rule of thumb given above, 10 lbs. of dry ice should make it through the entire day with a decent-sized cooler—say 25 quarts. Family reunion necessitating an appearance by its 50-quart cohort? Simply double the weight in dry ice to match the doubled volumetric capacity to ensure that all-day cold.
- To cool or to freeze: Dry ice is unmatched at freezing, just about anything. If you’re looking to turn your cooler into a portable refrigerator, pack less dry ice (which should be wrapped in newspaper or an equivalent insulator), and throw plenty of “normal” ice.
- Styrofoam for shipping: It’s legal (and quite common) to ship items through the USPS with dry ice, though certainly a matter to be discussed with a postal worker beforehand. As for the correct shipping vessel, nothing can match the insulation, sturdiness, and reliability of Styrofoam containers.
These days our collectively preferred vessel for liquid imbibing shares its name with a mythical snow monster. So, do not hesitate to use some dry ice in your Yeti! It’ll stay straight-from-the-fridge frosty all day. As a closing note, please always remember to prioritize safety whenever handling or in the proximity of dry ice. A quick brush against that -109° F surface could easily be time enough for the onset of some severe frostbite.
Dry Ice for All Your Needs
Dry Ice Corp is the largest regional supplier of dry ice and related products in the Northeastern United States. Our ice is fresh and delivered right to your doorstep. We are happy to help you determine the best way to ship your goods, whether you have a huge number of cookies or a single pie, and help you select the perfect amount of dry ice for the job. Give us a call at (201) 767-3200, or contact us online for a quote. To connect with us online, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.