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How to Use Dry Ice in a Cooler

What is Dry Ice?

DryIceMakerIn a nutshell, dry ice is basically carbon dioxide in a frozen state. A nice compact block of this ultra-chilly and intriguingly numbing ice has a temperature of negative 109.3 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the same as negative 78.5 degrees Celsius. The really cool thing about dry ice is that it is just that….dry. It never gets wet or melts. This is because it dissipates, turning into carbon dioxide gas instead of melting and turning into a liquid. For this reason, dry ice has uses and capabilities that regular ice does not have. But, be careful! Dry ice, when used or handled improperly, can cause great damage. Always wear thick gloves when handling, and never try to eat or swallow dry ice.

Some Ways that Dry Ice is Used:

Dry ice is used both professionally and personally for keeping food and other perishable items cold. Dry ice is especially used for packing and shipping meat. It is also used in the food industry to carbonate liquids. In the medical industry, it can be used for things such as preserving specimens or even freezing and removing warts. Shipping biological samples is also a popular use for dry ice. Of course, dry ice is commonly used on a regular basis in coolers for recreation purposes such as camping, hunting, and fishing. Before adding dry ice to your cooler, it is important to know how to handle it as well as when and where to use it.

Photo Credit: GearJunkie.com

Photo Credit: GearJunkie.com

Can Dry Ice be used in all Coolers?

Dry ice can be used in most coolers, however, there are a few important features that are necessary. For example, the cooler must be well insulated in order to retain the extreme temperatures created by dry ice. Another important factor to consider is the seal on a cooler. If the seal is extremely air tight, the gas emitted from the dry ice could cause a small but dangerous explosion. Most high end coolers are not completely air tight, and are designed for use with dry ice. It is advised that you check with the manufacturer recommendations on your specific cooler before using dry ice.

Properly using Dry Ice in a Cooler:

Following all of the safe handling instructions mentioned above, there are specific ways to use dry ice in your cooler rather than just throwing it in the bottom and piling items on top. The best way to use dry ice in your cooler is as follows:

  • Check to see if your cooler is compatible for use with dry ice
  • Make sure the cooler is clean and dry
  • Wear thick rubber gloves or use proper tools to handle the dry ice
  • Wrap the dry ice in paper; newspaper or packing paper works well
  • Place the wrapped dry ice in the bottom of the cooler
  • Cut a piece of cardboard to fit over the dry ice and poke holes in it
  • Place the cardboard on top of the wrapped dry ice
  • Place food and other items on top of the cardboard

When used properly, dry ice can be of great value to someone wanting to avoid the mess of melting ice. If you have never used dry ice, following these instructions will have you off to a great start!