November 10, 2020

Dry Ice Shipping

Dry ice is meant to store goods that require very cold or frozen temperatures. Medical supplies, gases, frozen food, vaccines, etc. are some of the common things that are used with dry ice when transporting or shipping. Once you or a shipping team has decided to use dry ice as a cooling agent in logistics, here are the steps that must be followed.

Due to the lockdown and quarantine period, the demand for pharmaceutical supplies, perishable foods, and other temperature-controlled goods has increased. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges to meeting that demand. Out of those challenges, shipping temperature-sensitive goods has become one of the most significant trials.

In these trying times, dry ice is the most popular and common material used to ship temperature-sensitive goods. Logistics and tracking companies are making the most of dry ice to store and save perishable goods during the cracking times of COVID-19.

As you might have guessed, our today’s article will introduce the concept of dry ice shipping. From the basic definition to dry ice history, our piece will be touching every corner of dry ice shipping.

Our piece will first brief you about the history of dry ice. Then, it will introduce you to the concept of dry ice shipping. And after that, it will cover how to ship with dry ice and a discussion of when to use dry ice. Lastly, we’ll tell what should be taken into account when shipping goods with dry ice.

We have a lot of things on the plate for you! Let’s get going.

What is dry ice?

Brief history

Dry ice is a solid form of carbon dioxide. The first person to observe the phenomena of dry ice was a French inventor Adrien-Jean-Pierre Thilorier. In 1835, Adrien published the first account of the dry ice. According to Adrien’s experiment, it was noted that on opening a lid of a large liquid carbon dioxide container, most of the liquid carbon dioxide evaporated, and the left substance was a solid material, now known as dry ice.

After the discovery, dry ice was only produced for and by experimentation. But in 1924, Thomas B. Slate applied for a US patent to sell dry ice for commercial use. Thomas B. Slate was the first person to make dry ice and introduce it to industries. Note that until 1924, a common name wasn’t given to what we now call as dry ice. But in 1925, the solid form of CO2 (what we call dry ice) was named dry ice by the DryIce Corporation of America. The same year, DryIce Corporation of America started to sell dry ice as a commercial substance for refrigerating purposes.

Manufacturing dry ice

To manufacture dry ice, gases with a high concentration of carbon dioxide are first produced. Then, the carbon dioxide-rich gas is pressurized and refrigerated until it reaches its liquid state. After that, the pressure of the container containing liquid carbon dioxide is reduced. Upon reduction, some carbon dioxide particles are vaporized, causing the temperature in the container to decrease rapidly. And as a result of extremely low temperatures, the liquid inside the container is transformed into a snow-like solid material. Finally, the snow-like material is compressed into small or large balls or pellets of dry ice.

Properties of dry ice

Dry ice is a solid form of carbon dioxide, also known as CO2. In carbon dioxide, there are two oxygen atoms bonded with one carbon atom. Dry ice directly converts into the gas from the solid form when the pressure is below 5.13 atm, and the temperature is below -56.4 C - this process is called sublimation. Dry ice is colorless and non-flammable, which makes it the perfect material for preserving temperature-sensitive goods.

Dry ice is a simple solid form of carbon dioxide. It’s used as a cooling agent in many industries due to its properties and characteristics. Dry ice can be easily manufactured and provided for commercial use.

Let’s move on and learn about dry ice shipping. 

Dry ice shipping

What is dry ice shipping?

For starters, dry ice shipping is the process of shipping temperature-sensitive goods like medicine, vaccines, frozen foods, and more. As dry ice doesn’t convert to liquid and evaporates as a gas directly from its solid form, it’s one of the most feasible materials used to insulate and protect temperature-sensitive products in logistics.

Dry ice shipping makes use of dry ice to keep the temperature-sensitive goods intact during shipping. Goods like ice cream, medicine, injections, meat, and vaccines are kept fresh and protected during shipping with the help of dry ice. In dry ice shipping, dry ice works as a cooling agent to ensure that the products around it are kept cold or frozen.

Safety requirements for dry ice shipping

Dry ice shipping requires some safety precautions to reduce risks and complications. Here are some basic safety requirements for dry ice shipping:

  • Dry ice can’t be sealed in an airtight container because it releases carbon dioxide gas during its decomposition. The package or container where dry ice is used must have an air passage to release carbon dioxide gas.
  • Proper labelling is necessary for dry ice shipping. All the goods must be marked with appropriate instructions and risks so that they can be properly accompanied by dry ice shipping.
  • Prolonged exposure to dry ice can cause severe damage to the skin. People in the service of dry ice shipping must always wear gloves to avoid any sort of harm. For more safety, dry ice handlers should also wear masks to prevent complications with dry ice when it sublimates.
  • Packages in which the dry ice is being stored must go through an integrity check as many materials can be compromised by dry ice.
  • Don’t enter poor ventilation areas where dry ice is stored as when it will go through the process of sublimation, carbon dioxide gas will be released. And if the gas is not properly ventilated, it will remain in the atmosphere of the respective area and affect people working nearby.

That’s about it for the introduction of dry ice shipping. Let’s move forward and learn about using dry ice in dry ice shipping.  

Using dry ice

The temperature of dry ice

Dry ice is extremely cold; it has a temperature of minus 78.5 to 109.3 degrees Celsius. The temperature of dry ice is ideal for storing products that are needed to be kept very cold or frozen, like sensitive medicine, meat, frozen food, vaccines, etc.

When to use dry ice

Dry ice is meant to store goods that require very cold or frozen temperatures. Medical supplies, gases, frozen food, vaccines, etc. are some of the common things that are used with dry ice when transporting or shipping.

But according to UPS Package Design and Test Lab, “You need to make sure dry ice doesn’t adversely affect the quality of the shipped product.” 

Dry ice can also negatively affect some products that aren’t meant to be stored at very low temperatures.

Which products are eligible to be stored with dry ice?

Every product is different in nature, and it may react differently with other materials at extreme temperatures. As dry ice has an extremely low temperature, safety precautions must be taken in order to identify if the goods are eligible to be shipped with it or not.

Some shipping companies recommend combining dry ice with other coolants like frozen gel packs for neutralizing the negative effects of dry ice on sensitive products. Next, other companies have put heavy emphasis on understanding the type of your product and then choosing the cooling agent.

Benefits of using dry ice

  • Dry ice provides up to three times the pound-to-pound cooling capacity of ordinary wet ice.
  • As dry ice is required less than ordinary wet ice, it’s very cost-efficient.
  • Dry ice doesn’t convert to water. It automatically sublimes to the gas state and then vaporizes to the surroundings.
  • When a product is shipped with dry ice, it will not be saturated with water.
  • Dry ice doesn’t produce any materialistic waste.
  • It’s readily available in quantity from different retailers and companies.

Finally, we are done with using dry ice; it’s time to step ahead and learn how to ship products with dry ice.

How to ship with dry ice?

Once you or a shipping team has decided to use dry ice as a cooling agent in logistics, here are the steps that must be followed:

Obtaining dry ice

Dry ice is commercially available to everyone. A company can obtain dry ice from local dry ice suppliers like grocery stores or big box stores. Some companies in the USA manufacture and supply dry ice to industries and businesses in bulk and at special prices.

Dry ice comes in different shapes and sizes. From pellets to big blocks and slices, a company can choose any form-factor according to the products they are shipping. Lastly, dry ice is inexpensive; the higher the quantity, the higher the discount.

Handling dry ice

Although the handling of dry ice is a no brainer, one must be careful in the process. As dry ice has an extremely low temperature, it can cause physical harm to the person who’s handling it.

In order to stay safe and sound while handling dry ice, handlers must wear goggles to protect eyes, special gloves to shield hands, and an extra layer of clothes to ensure that dry ice doesn’t affect your clothes. People who are in the supply chain of dry ice or handling must receive proper education and training about handling dry ice.

Storing dry ice

The next step is to store dry ice. Special containers are used for storing dry ice. Note that containers that don’t have a proper ventilation system or airtight must be strictly avoided to store dry ice.

Airtight containers or those with insufficient ventilation shouldn’t be used to store dry ice as it can create severe internal pressure and cause the container to explode. Additionally, dry ice isn’t suitable for glass containers, as ice can easily break or chip the glass.

Calculating exact usage of dry ice

Lastly, a company must figure out the amount of dry ice that’s needed to transport goods. The general thumb rule, while calculating the usage of dry ice, is expecting five to ten pounds of dry ice to sublimate every 24 hours.

Another vital factor in calculating the usage of dry ice is checking the density of the container foam. The higher the density of the container foam, the slower the dry ice will convert to its gas form.

That’s it for how to ship with dry ice. Stay with us to learn about the factors that should be taken into account when shipping goods with dry ice.               

What should be taken into account when shipping goods with dry ice?


When shipping goods with dry ice, the goods must be placed separately from the dry ice. The only use of dry ice is to keep the shipment cold, so the goods must be held at a reasonable distance from dry ice.

Dry ice must not touch the goods as it will affect their quality. Moreover, the containers must not be sealed airtight as the dry ice vapours require some opening to escape. And lastly, packing tape must not be overused.      


Dry ice shipments must be marked with a label like “dry ice” or “carbon dioxide, solid,” along with the description of how many pounds of dry ice is included. Labelling will make it easier for the next stop in the supply chain to handle the goods with care.

Data loggers can also be used to label the shipments that are making use of dry ice. Logmore provides data loggers for various industries, including dry ice shipping. They provide low-cost and high-performance devices that are ready for all the challenges.     


For keeping the shipment legal and out of harm’s way, regulations must be followed. For air transport, the amount of dry ice per parcel is limited to five or fewer pounds. For ground shipment, the amount of dry ice is not limited to any restriction. Check out more about dry ice shipping regulations at the official website of US Postal Service Guidelines.

Are you shipping products in dry ice? Learn how Logmore Dry Ice data loggers can help you ensure you get the most out of your logistics efforts.

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