How to Store Dry Ice: A Comprehensive Guide

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Dry ice, a mysterious solid form of carbon dioxide, is used in numerous industries, from perishable goods transportation to medical and scientific realms. The proper storage of this substance is imperative, as improper handling can cause harm to people and equipment alike.

But why bother with the storage of dry ice at all? The answer lies in its benefits – a longer shelf life for perishable goods, effortless transportation, and cost-efficiency when compared to traditional refrigeration methods. And let’s not forget, dry ice is a versatile and eco-friendly alternative to conventional cooling agents.

How to Store Dry Ice
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In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unravel the dry ice characteristics, the varied types of containers, safety measures, and the best practices for successful storage.

What is Dry Ice?

Dry ice, an enigmatic solid form of carbon dioxide (CO2) with a chemical formula of CO2, astounds with its existence as a mere 0.04% of the Earth’s atmosphere, yet it holds immense significance in multiple industries. This white, opaque, and spongy entity, produced by subjecting carbon dioxide to pressure alterations, boasts a temperature of a staggering -109.3°F (-78.5°C), granting it the power to swiftly induce subzero temperatures in its surroundings.

Its unique quality of sublimating directly from solid to gas, bypassing the liquid phase, makes dry ice an unparalleled choice for cooling and preserving perishable goods. There are two forms of dry ice that marvel us – pellets and blocks. Pellets, the small cylindrical pieces, widely used for their ease of handling, stand in contrast to the large blocks, utilized for heavy-duty cooling and transportation.

How Dry Ice Is Used

FieldUse of Dry Ice
Food and BeverageMaintains low temperatures for extended periods
MedicalMedium for cryotherapy
ScientificTool for low temperature preservation of samples

From transportation to food and beverage, medical to scientific, the versatility of dry ice knows no bounds. In transportation, its exceptional ability to maintain low temperatures for extended periods surpasses traditional cooling methods. In the medical field, it astounds as a medium for cryotherapy, while in scientific experiments, it marvels as a tool for low temperature preservation of samples.

Compared to normal ice made by freezing water, dry ice does not introduce moisture which helps keep the humidity within the container constant. This is important to all fields of use listed above.

At my testing lab, we often receive food and other research samples packed alongside dry ice.

How to Store Dry Ice

Safe and effective utilization of dry ice requires proper storage to protect people and equipment from potential harm. Read on for vital information on the different container options, temperature and ventilation needs, label mandates, and optimal storage strategies for dry ice.

Choosing the Right Container for Dry Ice Preservation

When it comes to storing dry ice, there are multiple container options available, such as foam coolers, insulated (but not airtight) containers, and plastic containers. Foam coolers are a common pick for home use, as they are readily accessible and cost-effective. Insulated containers, on the other hand, are best for commercial and industrial purposes due to their durability and superior insulation. Plastic containers also have their own advantages – they are lightweight and durable, making them ideal for transportation.

Do not use airtight containers. As the dry ice sublimates and releases carbon dioxide gas, pressure will build up within an airtight container which can cause it to explode.

Critical Factors to Consider When Selecting a Container

When selecting a container for dry ice storage, various factors need to be taken into account, including size, insulation, toughness, and mobility. The container must be big enough to hold the desired amount of dry ice, and its insulation should maintain the dry ice temperature at a constant level. Durability is a crucial aspect as containers are prone to wear and tear during transportation. Portability should also be a concern, particularly if the dry ice will be transported to various locations.

Temperature and Airflow Requirements

The optimum dry ice storage temperature is between -130°F to -112°F (-80°C to -70°C).

Containers with dry ice in them must be stored in a well-ventilated area. The released CO2 gas can be very dangerous if inhaled in substantial quantities, as it can cause tachycardia, cardiac arrhythmias, impaired consciousness, coma, and even death. Hence, it is crucial to ensure sufficient ventilation while storing dry ice, especially when storing dry ice overnight while you are sleeping. The temperature of the storage area should be cool and must be consistent and not fluctuate rapidly, as this can cause the dry ice to sublimate faster.

Labeling Guidelines

All containers holding dry ice must be labeled with the date of storage, the quantity of dry ice, and any related safety information. This information will assist in ensuring that the dry ice is utilized within its shelf life and will provide crucial safety information in emergency situations.

Storing Dry Ice in Vehicles

When transporting dry ice in a vehicle, the container must be firmly placed, and the vehicle must be well-ventilated. The trunk is the ideal location, as it provides a secure and well-ventilated storage area. If the trunk is not feasible, the container must be securely placed in the vehicle, and the windows must be kept slightly open for ventilation.

Safety Measures for Handling and Storing Dry Ice

How to Store Dry Ice: A Comprehensive Guide 1
handling dry ice

Dry ice is a popular refrigerant that comes with inherent dangers that must be considered. We’ll delve into the potential risks associated with dry ice, personal protective gear and attire, safe handling techniques, emergency first-aid, and critical emergency procedures.

The Threats of Dry Ice

Dry ice is incredibly cold and may cause injury to the skin and eyes if not handled with care. Yes, dry ice causes burns, similar to frostbite. If your skin starts to peel or blister, you should consult your doctor. Consult your doctor. Additionally, as it sublimates, it releases carbon dioxide gas that can be hazardous if inhaled in large amounts. Hence, caution and safety measures must be exercised when handling and storing dry ice.

Protective Gear and Clothing

When handling dry ice, it’s crucial to wear protective gear such as gloves and safety glasses to avoid skin and eye injuries. Your attire must also be comfortable and free-flowing to reduce the risk of accidents. A lab coat is generally recommended.

Handling and Transportation of Dry Ice

When moving or transporting dry ice, it’s crucial to use suitable containers and to secure them tightly to prevent the release of carbon dioxide gas and minimize the risk of injury from the ice’s low temperature.

Fortunately, dry ice is not flammable. However, the foam container used to store dry ice can be highly flammable, so it is best to keep it all away from potential sources of fire.

Emergency Treatment of Injuries

In case of injury from dry ice, immediate first aid measures should be taken. Dry ice burns are similar to frostbite. For skin injuries, immerse the affected area in warm water until the pain subsides. For eye injuries, rinse the eye with water for at least 15 minutes and seek medical attention promptly. If carbon dioxide gas has been inhaled, move the person to a well-ventilated area and seek medical attention immediately.

Emergency Procedures

In the event of a dry ice emergency, it’s essential to follow the proper emergency procedures. If carbon dioxide gas has been released in a confined space, evacuate the area immediately and contact emergency services. If someone has been injured, provide first aid and seek medical attention immediately.

Best Practices for Storing Dry Ice

Observing the weight of the dry ice is important to track its sublimation over time. For maximum preservation, it is advisable to store it in small quantities and not reuse it.

Dry ice releases carbon dioxide gas as it sublimates, hence, it should be stored in a well-ventilated area. Label the container with the contents and date of storage for safe handling and transport. How long does dry ice last, read our article here.

  1. Optimal storage duration of 24-48 hours
  2. Optimal temperature is between -80°C to -70°C
  3. Monitoring the weight of dry ice to prevent sublimation
  4. Storing dry ice in small quantities and avoiding reuse
  5. Storing dry ice in a well-ventilated area
  6. Minimizing air space in the container to slow down sublimation
  7. Keeping dry ice away from sources of heat
  8. Labeling the container with the contents and date of storage
  9. Keeping dry ice away from people and pets.

Final Thoughts

In summary, the storage of dry ice is a crucial aspect that must be taken into consideration for its safe and effective utilization. Dry ice, being a solid form of carbon dioxide, has various applications but it comes with certain dangers that must be mitigated. The optimal storage of dry ice entails choosing the correct container, temperature, handling, and transportation procedures. It is imperative to adhere to the best practices of dry ice storage to avoid any hazards.


How long does dry ice endure?

Dry ice can endure for a span ranging from 24 to 48 hours, granted it’s stored with the utmost caution in a well-insulated container that maintains a temperature between -80°C to -70°C. However, the length of time may fluctuate contingent on the temperature, ventilation, and the volume of air within the container.

What’s the most appropriate method to store dry ice?

To ensure the longevity of dry ice, it’s imperative to store it in a well-insulated container with minimal air space. The container must be tightly sealed to prevent the escape of carbon dioxide gas and the infiltration of moisture. The optimal temperature for storing dry ice lies within the range of -80°C to -70°C.

Is it secure to transport dry ice in a vehicle?

Yes, it’s secure to transport dry ice in a vehicle, but with certain safety measures and proper handling techniques in place. The vehicle must be well-ventilated, and the dry ice must be stored in a well-insulated container with minimal air space.

Can dry ice be reused?

No, dry ice cannot be reused as it sublimates into gas as it is used.

What dangers does dry ice pose?

The dangers associated with dry ice include the release of carbon dioxide gas, which can lead to suffocation in enclosed spaces. The extreme cold temperature of dry ice can cause harm or damage to skin and eyes. It’s crucial to handle and transport dry ice with protective gear and clothing to avoid injury.

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