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How to Use Dry Ice in a Cooler with best practice

Keeping your things chilled inside the cooler is your main intention. But sometimes, your cooler’s performance can ruin them by letting regular ice melt down early than you anticipated. That’s why many people use Dry ice as an alternative to regular ice. But if you don’t know how to use dry ice in a cooler, don’t worry, you are in the best place to find out.

But before we tell you how to use dry ice in a cooler, you must know few things about the frozen gas.

What is Dry Ice?

Unlike regular ice, which is frozen water, dry ice is actually frozen form of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and it is much more efficient than regular ice in keeping things chilled.

how to use dry ice in a cooler

To form Carbon Dioxide gas into dry ice, first, they are pressurized to take the form of liquid. Then the temperature is brought to -109.3 degrees Fahrenheit and that’s when the liquid takes shape of ice blocks. Although it might seem pretty easy, the process cannot be done I home like we use the freezer to make regular ice. It’s because of the pressure required to make gas into liquid Carbon Dioxide.

Why is Dry Ice useful?

First of all, Dry Ice can keep things not only chilled but also completely frozen. That’s why for meat and fish, dry ice is much more efficient than regular water-ice. Dry Ice can keep the meats and fishes longer than a refrigerator.

Secondly, they don’t make your things wet like regular ice. When regular ice melts down, it leaves a splash of water into the foods or anything you keep in them. But in case you use Dry ice instead of regular ice, there won’t be any liquid to ruin your things because Dry Ice melts and turns into Carbon Dioxide gas without turning into liquid.

And lastly, Dry Ice keeps its form much longer than regular ice. Even better if you buy them in large blocks because they tend to keep their shape longer than small blocks.

Handling Dry Ice Safely

First thing you should know before learning how to use dry ice in a cooler, is how to handle them without endangering yourself and others around you.

Proper Ventilation

As I have mentioned earlier, Dry ice melts and turns into Carbon Dioxide gas. And you might also know that Carbon Dioxide is harmful to health if consumed more than the limit. So, make sure your room has proper ventilation so that Carbon Dioxide can pass out. Otherwise, you may pass out or feel the fizz.

Using Protective Gear

Dry ice is not like regular water frozen ice and they are extremely cold. That’s why holding them without any gloves or protective gear can cause skin burn or frostbite in the best case scenario.

Got your gloves? Now you are ready to know how to use dry ice in a cooler.

how to use dry ice

This is How to Use Dry Ice in a Cooler​​​​

You can use Dry Ice in your cooler in many ways but choose a way that suits your need the most.

Dry Ice on the Bottom of the cooler

This is the most common way to use Dry Ice in coolers. People use dry ice on the bottom when they are out for a camp or on a road trips.

  1. First, place a Styrofoam or Cardboard on the bottom of your cooler where Dry ice is going to touch. It is because Dry Ice is extremely cold and they can ruin your cooler.
  2. Then place dry ice over them using protective gloves.
  3. Although it is not mandatory, it’s better to place another piece of Styrofoam or cardboard over the dry ice blocks to keep your foods away from dry-ice touch. You should remember that dry ice can damage your anatomy if they go into your stomach. But if you are wondering about the cold reaching to your food, don’t worry. It will reach under the cardboard or Styrofoam.
  4. Layer the foods and drinks. Keep the things that you need frozen on the bottom and close to the dry ice, like steak or fish. Over them, you can place your drinks and other things that don't need freezing, like beer and fruits.

Dry Ice on the Top of coolers

When you go out for hunting, you need a cooler to bring the ham or anything you hunt without letting harmful bacteria growing on them. For that, you need to place the dry ice on top of the meat. Dry ice will melt down and the Gas Carbon Dioxide will sink lower on the cooler, freezing them quickly.

  • First, place a cardboard or Styrofoam on the bottom of your cooler. Although you are putting dry ice on top of the meat, the dry ice pieces can melt and fall on the bottom. That’s why, to avoid damaging your cooler, a cardboard layer is a must.
  • Place the meat over the Styrofoam or Cardboard.
  • Use gloves to place Dry Ice over the meat. You can put big blocks or small pallets on the top. Although small pallets will melt down quickly, they will freeze the meat faster than bigger blocks on the top.

Use Dry Ice in Roto-Moulded Cooler

If you don’t know already, vapor or gas form of any substance takes more volume than liquid and solid form. As you know, Dry Ice doesn’t turn into liquid, instead, it becomes gas taking more volume inside the cooler than it needed ion the soled form.

This won’t be a problem with cheap quality coolers that are not airtight and allows air to pass out. But if you own a roto-molded cooler like ORCA, Yeti or Pelican, you might think of a way to let the additional Carbon Dioxide gas pass out without affecting the ice retention.

When the dry ice turns into gas, it will need more area to expand and eventually strain the weak parts like drain plus or rubber latches if they can’t find a place to go out. Although it might not damage the body, it can weaken drain plug, gasket or rubber latches of the cooler.

So what you can do is unscrew the drain plug a bit so that excess gas can pass out. But don’t open the whole thing apart.

So, now that you know how to use Dry Ice in a cooler, you are good to go on your hike, camp or road trip without worrying about the foods and drinks inside. But if you are worried that your cooler won’t be able to keep Dry ice without damaging itself, you can check out Yeti tundra 35 Quart cooler or Pelican Cooler to buy one for your next big trip.

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