How To Use Dry Ice in a Cooler

Are you tired of filling regular ice in your cooler? How about trying the dry ice to keep the things cool in the cooler? Dry ice is comparatively less dense than regular ice and doesn’t melt off quickly. Moreover, it doesn’t cause a spilling mess and escape in the form of gas.

Whether you want to go for a picnic or quickly freeze the food items in a cooler, dry ice is always preferable for longer-term use. But how to use dry ice in the cooler?

And how to prevent it from fast sublimation? These are the two biggest questions whenever anyone thinks of using the dry ice in the cooler.

This blog will explain how to use the ice in a cooler and various other aspects through step and step guides. So, let’s get started.

What is Dry Ice?

Dry Ice Nuggets
Dry Ice

Dry ice is prepared from liquid carbon dioxide and maintained at a lower temperature than regular ice. The dry ice passes through the process of sublimation which is mess-free. In this process, the solid ice is directly converted into a gaseous form.

Unlike regular ice, which melts off quickly, dry ice doesn’t melt off easily; instead, it turns into a gaseous form. Moreover, it is lighter in weight as compared to regular ice. This is why it is widely acceptable for shipping foods and picnic purposes.

Caution: The freezing temperature of dry ice goes to -78°C (-108°F). So, do not touch dry ice without wearing a certified glove. Otherwise, it will burn your hand.

How to Use Dry Ice in a Cooler?

Dry Ice Production

If you want to keep the dry ice in a cooler for a longer time, then here are a few steps that you need to follow.

1. Select The Cooler with Ventilation

Dry ice is generally used in those coolers that have ventilation. The ventilation system allows the gas to escape off easily, and it is essential when you are using dry ice. Without ventilation, the dry ice gas will accumulate in the cooler, resulting in faster evaporation.

Therefore, it is preferred to have a cooler with a ventilation system. Also, make sure to have a large cooler when you are using the dry ice. It would be great if you used the insulated box, which helps to keep the ice cool for a longer time.

2. Place a Cardboard Inside the Cooler

To prevent quick melting of the dry ice or internal damage, always place cardboard at the bottom of the ice cooler.

However, you can also place the cardboard on the inner walls to provide adequate insulation. The cardboard helps fill the gap between the cooler and the ice, which helps to improve the insulation for a longer time.

When you are placing the cardboard into the cooler, lose the drainage cap. This will help to evacuate the evaporated ice easily. Moreover, it is also helpful to prevent the cooler from internal damage.

The evaporated gas generates pressure on the wall, which can potentially damage the ice cooler. Therefore, always lose the drainage cap and lid slightly open to avoid damage.

3. Buy Large Blocks of Dry Ice

Before buying the dry ice, check for how long you need to have the dry ice. If you are going on a picnic, buy 10-20 pounds of dry ice, which would be sufficient to keep your beverage cold for 24 hours.

More than that, you need to check how much dry ice can be fitted into the ice cooler. For instance, a 56-liter cooler can hold up to 10 pounds of dry ice, keeping things cool for one day.

So, always consider buying large size dry ice blocks or in the form of pellets to keep in the portable ice cooler. Dry ice chunks are also great to buy if you have a small cooler because small chunks can easily fit into the ice cooler.

How to Arrange Dry Ice in a Cooler for Use?

As you have purchased the dry ice, it is time to place it in the ice cooler for use. Here are a few steps that you need to follow to arrange the dry ice.

1. Use Newspaper to Wrap the Dry Ice 

To use the dry ice for longer, you need to wrap it with a newspaper. The newspaper here will act as the insulated cover, which helps to slow down the process of evaporation and keep the ice for the last longer.

Moreover, the newspaper can also be helpful to prevent direct touching to the dry ice with bare hands, which can cause damage to you.

If you have bought the small chunks of the ice, it is impossible to wrap them with the newspaper. Therefore, it would be great to surround them with newspaper instead of wrapping. When you wrap the dry ice with newspaper, then it will slow down the process of evaporation.

2. Put The Dry Ice Always on Bottom of the Ice Cooler

Keeping dry ice on the top can evaporate faster. Therefore, always make sure to keep the dry ice at the bottom of the ice cooler. This will help prevent the ice from fast evaporation and make your food items accessible easily.

Also, if you are storing the drinks and food items in the ice cooler on dry ice, do not forget to pre-freeze the beverages and food items. This will help to keep things cool for a longer time.

If possible, then keep the cardboard between the dry ice and the food items. Keeping the cardboard can be further helpful to prevent the melting of the dry ice.

3. Place the Food Storing Box

Placing a food storage box on dry ice is also an excellent choice. The food storing box helps keep all the food items in place and is also helpful to keep the dry ice for a longer time.

In addition to this, you can also seal all the gaps between the ice cooler with newspaper help. Make small loose balls off the newspaper and place them between the gaps. This will help to prevent dry ice from evaporation.

4. Put the Dry Ice on the Top of the Food

Once you seal all the gaps, put some dry ice chunks on the top of the frozen food items. Placing dry ice on the top of the freezer helps prevent quick melting and keeps the things cool for a longer time.

If you are storing the meat in the ice cooler, always place the dry ice at the bottom, then meat storage bags, and place some dry ice chunks on the top.

But you can skip the step if you are going for a short trip, and it isn’t easy to take out the food items from the cooler. However, if you want to transport the meat items long-distance, always prefer to put some dry ice on the top of the items.

5. Cover the Ice Cooler with Cardboard

When you keep the dry ice on the top of the ice cooler, there are chances you may touch the ice directly, which can harm you. Therefore, to prevent accidental damage, you can cover the top of the ice cooler with cardboard.

It helps prevent unintentional touching and maintains the insulation in the ice cooler, allowing the dry ice for a longer time. 

Ideally, one-inch thick cardboard is sufficient enough to maintain the cooling. In addition to this, try to keep the lid slightly open.

This will help to escape the gas from the cooler, which can cause damage to the icebox. But make sure to don’t open it wider. A slightly crack size opening is also great for maintaining the ventilation. 

Final Verdict

Dry ice is best for retaining cooling in the ice cooler for a longer time. But if you inappropriately use the dry ice, it may lead to damage and may result in faster evaporation. Therefore, make sure to follow the steps and use the dry ice properly by following the steps. In this way, you’ll be able to keep it longer.