How to Pack Dry Ice in a Cooler

Summer means trips to the beach, long hikes, long drives, and picnics outside. Conventional ice is a common means people use to transport food in a cooler, but with proper precautions and some planning, dry ice can keep food and drinks cold or frozen much longer. This blog will cover what dry ice is and how to handle it properly and safely.

Scoop Of Dry Ice | Cee Kay Supply

Dry ice is carbon dioxide that is frozen at -109 degrees. It gives off an incredible amount of cooling power compared to regular ice, and when properly cared for, can last much longer. Dry ice is commercially available and can be combined with wet ice. One of the benefits of dry ice is that as it “melts” it goes from frozen form to a CO2 vapor. This is called sublimation and eliminates the water that happens from regular ice melt.

Use for freezing or Keeping Cold – Dry Ice is a great alternative to gel packs, water ice and freezing or keeping items cold means anywhere where a refrigerator or freezer is not readily accessible for long periods of time.

How to Use Dry Ice in Your Cooler

Use a proper cooler – You may choose to use the cooler that you already use for regular ice. However cheaper grades of plastic can become brittle when they come into contact with super-cooled dry ice. Thinner walled coolers may also develop frost on the outside and the dry ice will not last as long.  If you do not have a suitable cooler Cee Kay stocks various size styrofoam containers fit for dry ice at our retail dry ice locations that will fit your need.

Protect your skin – Since dry ice is so cold, it must be handled with protective leather or cloth gloves to prevent a cryogenic  burn. It’s also a good idea to keep dry ice away from children, animals or any material that would be damaged in low temperatures.

Remember to ventilate – As dry ice sublimates, or turns into vapor, it gives off carbon dioxide gas. Store your dry ice cooler in a well-ventilated area and make sure there is a fresh air supply during transportation.  All coolers that hold dry ice will need to allow for ventilation and cannot be an air-tight container.  For more information please consult the SDS sheet here.

Insulate the ice with newspaper – Before you put the dry ice in your cooler, wrap it in several sheets of newspaper. This protects the ice surface from being accidentally touched, reducing the risk of freezer burn and it also adds a few layers of insulation which allows the ice to last longer.  Our retail 5/8” dry ice pellets are great for mixing dry ice with regular ice to make it last longer.

Food below ice to keep frozen, on top for convenience – Most people pack the ice at the bottom of the cooler so they can easily access food on top. But if you have frozen meat or other food that you won’t immediately need, you can pack this beneath the ice to keep it frozen.  Always be careful of sealed, canned or glass beverages as they may burst in the event the contents freeze. Whether it is meat, popsicles or ice cream keep in mind that it will be much colder than a regular freezer and will take longer to thaw before use.

Eliminate empty space – Open air in your cooler allows dry ice to sublimate faster so to make it last longer, fill voids with wadded newspaper or blocks of styrofoam.

Pre-Freeze to save dry ice – If you plan on packing a cooler with items that you would like to freeze it is best to pre-freeze them in your home refrigerator to save the dry ice from doing the work!

Be aware of regulations – If you plan on traveling by air or shipping dry ice via a delivery service please consult the service provider of any specific rules regarding labeling or quantity requirements.

How much dry ice do I need for my trip? – See our helpful guideline chart here.

Cee Kay Has Dry Ice for Any Occasion

Whether a trip to the beach or to pack products for shipping, our dry ice is the high-quality, reliable coolant you need. We have the unique packaging capabilities to either keep your content cold or completely frozen, but the choice is up to you. Contact us today and let us know your dry ice needs.

Visit any of our seven locations to find the right solution at the right price.  But before you schedule your next delivery, make sure to check out our product gallery for more information on dry ice specifications, general safety requirements, and packaging capabilities.