How to ship with dry ice
Use 8-10 pounds of dry ice for a 24 to 48-hour period in a standard well-insulated cooler. For longer times and larger coolers, multiply by this amount.
SHIPPING REFRIGERATED OR FROZEN ITEMS
From frozen lasagna to chocolates – from human tissue to prescription drugs – more and more goods are shipped refrigerated or frozen. A good video explaining shipping with dry ice: Airgas Penguin Brand Dry Ice-Transporting Food
FIRST, USE A WELL-INSULATED CONTAINER
An inexpensive Styrofoam cooler from the grocery store will rarely work. It breaks easily and usually is not the right shape for shipping. A thick polystyrene box such as Omaha Steaks or the insulated boxes from Control Temp Packaging or Thermosafe will reduce the amount of dry ice needed and allow extended shipping times.
Storage or Shipping Dry Ice
NEXT, DOES IT NEED TO BE FROZEN OR REFRIGERATED?
Use Dry Ice for shipping FROZEN goods as Dry Ice will freeze everything in the shipping box. Use “gel packs” or “blue ice” for goods to be REFRIGERATED. A combination of dry ice and gel packs will extend the shipping time by several days if the shipped items can be frozen or thawed for a short time.
FOR DRY ICE SHIPPING
Less efficient insulation and higher outside temperatures will need more dry ice. Use 8-10 pounds per day in a standard well-insulated cooler. For larger coolers, multiply by this amount.
FOR REFRIGERATED GEL PACK SHIPPING
Use one pound per cubic foot per day. (Most gel packs come in 1/2 pound size, but newer ones are up to 2 pounds.) For an extended period, gel packs can be combined with Dry Ice, although there is a possibility of freezing the goods initially.
Put dry ice or gel packs and the product as close together as possible with the dry ice on top. Fill vacant space with wadded newspaper, styrofoam peanuts, or the latest bubble packs, as any “dead-air space” will cause the dry ice to sublimate faster.
SHIPPING BY AIR
Be sure to check with the airlines ahead of time to see their procedures and regulations regarding dry ice. Most will allow up to 5.5 pounds of dry ice.
DRY ICE SUBLIMINATION (dry ice changes from a solid to a gas.)
The rate will vary depending on the outside temperature, air pressure (It will sublimate faster on an airplane with lower air pressure), and insulation efficiency. The more dry ice you have stored in the container, the longer it will last. At -109°F or -78°C, dry ice will freeze, and keep frozen everything in the container. These deep-frozen items will take time to thaw after the dry ice is gone.
Commercial shippers of perishables sometimes use dry ice for nonfrozen goods. Dry ice gives more than twice the cooling energy per pound of weight and three times per volume of regular water ice (H2O). Therefore, it is often mixed with regular ice to save shipping weight and extend the cooling energy of water ice. Sometimes dry ice is made on the spot from liquid CO2. The resulting dry ice snow packed on the top of a shipping container offers extended cooling without additional refrigeration equipment.