Why Dry Ice Looks so Cool, and Why That Makes it Good for Packaging

April 07, 2016

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You probably know that dry ice is good for making awesome party fog, but there’s so much more to this mysterious substance than Halloween atmospherics. It’s the perfect way to ensure your cold products—whether they’re chocolate or prescription drugs—arrive at their destination in good condition.

How Does it Work?

Even though it has “ice” in the name, dry ice is far from your typical frozen H2O. It’s actually CO2 (or carbon dioxide) in a solid state. Unlike typical ice, which melts into a big liquid mess when it gets warm, dry ice goes through a process called sublimation where it moves directly from a solid to gas.

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What does this mean for packaging? The cold means your product will arrive in the same frozen state it was when it left your facility—and the product and packaging won’t be soaked from melting ice.

It’s important to know that dry ice is extremely cold: -109º F, or -79º C. So it has to be handled carefully and never touched with bare skin unless you want frostbitten fingers or worse. And you really don’t want to ask about the “or worse.”

The Right Dry-Ice Packaging

Dry ice vapor buildup can be extremely dangerous if the container isn’t properly ventilated to allow the sublimating gas to escape. But the packaging must also be strong enough to withstand the usual not-so-gentle handling from postal employees. And to get your money’s worth, you’ll also want the container to maximize the amount of freezing time you get from your dry ice.

All that cooling power doesn’t come without some governmental regulation, too. Rules from the US Department of Transportation and the International Air Transport Association lay out the maximum amount of dry ice that can be used for shipping, the type of packaging that can be used, and the markings or hazard stickers that must be displayed.

Sound complicated? That’s because it is. Luckily, you don’t have to figure out all this stuff on your own. At Ernest, you’ll find dry ice as part of our TempEndure® system. We built TempEndure® to combine a bunch of different solutions together to give you the best packaging for temperature-sensitive products. That includes dry ice in pellet form, custom-cut blocks, or pre-bagged airplane ice.

Truth be told, it might not even include dry ice at all! One of the best parts about our TempEndure® system is that it’s all custom-designed to fit your shipping needs. That means lower freight costs and less lost goods due to damage or failed temperature.

Contact Ernest Packaging Solutions today to see how to protect your temperature-sensitive goods!