Shipping With Dry Ice Vs Gel Ice Packs

When shipping items you want to make sure that certain cargo maintains a required temperature to keep them from spoiling or melting right in front of you. There are several options for packing temperature-sensitive items and we will discuss two of the most common choices for temperature control with dry ice and gel ice packs. Choosing the most efficient type of ice pack for your needs depends on a few different factors. We will explore which type of ice is best for some different scenarios.

What is dry ice? 

Dry ice is from carbon dioxide frozen in a solid form. It can be used as a way to keep items frozen or even cool. How cold is dry ice? Dry ice temperature is around -78.5 degrees Celsius. At this temperature, it is actually a dangerous product to handle and must be handled with gloves or tongs to prevent frostbite. In addition to the cold, the gas that is released by dry ice shouldn’t be breathed in and could cause carbon dioxide to build up in your bloodstream. Using dry ice in a ventilated area is always suggested.

How Long Does Dry Ice Last

Dry ice not only does an excellent job keeping food cold but also can keep the food frozen. But how long does dry ice last? There are several factors that can play a role in the length that dry ice stays frozen. The dry ice brick can last for different amounts of time depending on the size of the brick and how the ice is stored. A good estimate for 5 lb brick of dry ice can stay cold in water for about 15 to 45 minutes. If you leave dry ice outside you could roughly get 3 to 5 hours. but the best way to keep dry ice solid is by using an insulated cooler where you could get an estimated 18 to 24 hours. The use of dry ice has allowed food distribution companies to ship products across the country and expand their market shares. Dry ice evaporates at about 5 to 10 lbs of carbon dioxide every 24 hours disappears completely with no trace or residue.

The storage of dry ice is a little different than a standard gel ice pack. You must handle dry ice with gloves to prevent frostbite and it must be stored in a cooler that is not airtight. An airtight cooler could allow the buildup of carbon dioxide as the dry ice evaporates and cause the container to explode. Dry ice storage is not recommended in a freezer due to the fact it is so cold that it will cause the thermostat in your freezer to turn off. If you are transporting dry ice in a vehicle you should crack your windows to allow the sublimation of the carbon dioxide. Once you are done with the dry ice it can be disposed of by leaving it outside in a container to evaporate into the atmosphere.

What is a gel ice pack?

A gel ice pack is what people normally use when packing lunch or trying to keep drinks and perishables cold in a lunch box or cooler. A gel ice pack is a plastic-filled package usually containing a refrigerant gel or another form of cooling liquid. Gel ice packs work by absorbing heat from items that are trying to remain cool. The goal of an ice pack is to keep foods from the spoiling temperature range while outside of a refrigerator or deep freezer.

How Long Does Gel Ice Packs Last

How long do gel ice packs last? Just like dry ice the conditions greatly influence the ability to keep food cold but it can normally stay cold for several hours in the right conditions. One advantage the ice packs have over dry ice is that they are reusable and can be refrozen in the freezer and used again so they can last a long time. Gel ice packs are made out of a gel that is non-toxic so a break in the ice pack won’t ruin your food. It has the ability to contour to the surface it is cooling by providing a quick reduction in temperature. Another advantage of the gel ice packs is the ability to use these on the skin for pain relief, reducing swelling, and even cooling someone down on a hot day. With dry ice, this isn’t an option due to the extreme cold.

The Costs of Gel Ice Packs Vs Dry Ice

The costs of both of these options are relatively similar. Gel ice packs can be purchased from a few dollars for a small ice pack to $10 for a larger ice pack. Dry ice is sold by weight and on average a pound of dry ice can range in price from $1-$3. Gel ice packs have the advantage of being reusable compared to dry ice’s sublimation.

Find The Shipping Supplies You Need for Shipping Perishable Goods at Astro Asia

Whether you are sending perishable goods for business purposes, or you are doing it to surprise your friends and family, it is prudent to put all measures in place. 

If you’re a business owner who ships perishable goods in large amounts regularly, Astro Asia can provide custom solutions for your shipping requirement. Need a thermal box, cold box or an insulated shipping blanket? Get in touch today for a custom quote.


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