Looking for the best way to store dry ice?
If you do not know how dry ice is stored, you are putting yourself and those around you at risk for some serious burn injuries.
As such, you would want to follow the best practices of handling dry ice safely.
How to store dry ice? Dry ice can be very beneficial where a freezer isn’t available and where super-low temperatures are necessary. With dry ice, you can sometimes end up buying far ahead of time or too much that you require storage. To safely store dry ice, wrap it using a towel and keep it inside an insulated container with a loose lid. Then, put the container in a ventilated area for safekeeping.
What is dry ice?
Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide gas that stays frozen below or starts “melting” above -109.3 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is extremely cold, and you can use it to cool or freeze items where a fridge or a freezer is not available.
The process of converting dry ice to carbon dioxide gas is called sublimation.
The same way ice melts to become water, dry ice also “melts” to become carbon dioxide gas.
Since carbon dioxide gas will sink in our atmosphere, we also use dry ice to create smoke effects for occasions and performances.
How long does dry ice last?
If you leave 20 pounds of dry ice out in the open, it will lose at least 10 pounds within 24 hours.
Any amount of dry ice appropriately stored for 24 hours loses only around 5 pounds.
The sublimation duration depends on the amount of dry ice you have and the storage practices you apply.
Factors such as ambient temperature and air circulation also drastically affect the solid-state duration of dry ice.
How do you store dry ice at home?
When storing dry ice at home, place it in an insulated container, like ice in a cooler, and be sure to keep the cooler in a well-ventilated area.
Never leave dry ice unattended.
Anyone who doesn’t know the proper way of handling dry ice is in for some ice burn injuries.
Things to Consider When Storing Dry Ice
Dry ice can bring a little bit of a hiccup, so consider the following helpful items before purchasing and handling dry ice.
You can slow down dry ice sublimation, but you cannot stop it. It is best to purchase dry ice close to the time that you plan to use it.
Extremely cold dry ice can burn your skin if you use your bare hands to handle it.
Prepare some protective gear before purchasing dry ice. Insulated gloves such as mittens or leather gloves should do the trick.
You can further add protection by wearing clothing with long sleeves to protect your arms.
As always, safer is better, so try to handle dry ice as little as possible.
If you have to break it, wrap it around a towel and use protective gear for your hands, arms, eyes, and face before breaking with an ice pick.
Handling dry ice in tightly enclosed spaces can also cause asphyxiation since it’s basically carbon dioxide gas.
Carbon dioxide weighs heavier than air. During sublimation, it automatically moves to lower areas and replace oxygenated air.
If you unintentionally leave dry ice in an enclosed space, avoid crawling down or staying low to handle it.
Container to Use
For storing dry ice, never use a completely airtight container.
During sublimation, tightly compressed and solid carbon dioxide takes on its gas form, which expands to replace oxygenated air.
Without proper ventilation and moving space, the excess carbon dioxide gas can cause the airtight container to expand or explode.
Use a thick Styrofoam cooler with a loose lid instead.
Where to Store or Place
Always store dry ice in a cold place with sufficient ventilation and air circulation.
Storing in a cold place lowers the rate of sublimation of dry ice.
And enough ventilation and air circulation can replace all of the accumulating carbon dioxide gas.
Do not leave dry ice to rest on top of any countertop or ceramics.
The extremely cold temperature can cause cracks and breakage to these surfaces.
Steps on How to Store Dry Ice
Here are the steps to follow when storing dry ice:
Step 1: Protective Gear
Before handling dry ice, always wear protective gear.
For simple container transfers, you can make do with just insulated gloves.
When breaking dry ice into smaller pieces, though, you would also want to cover up your arms, eyes, and face.
Step 2: Towel Wrap
If you want dry ice to last longer, wrap it in a towel before storing it inside an insulated container.
Like ordinary ice blocks, dry ice stays solid longer when wrapped in a towel or a piece of cloth.
Step 3: Insulated Container
After wrapping the dry ice in a towel, store it in an insulated container, like an ice chest or a cooler.
The best storage container for dry ice is one with walls made of closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam (XPS), more commonly known as Styrofoam.
Step 4: Crumpled Paper
Sometimes, you may have a container with more space than you need.
After putting the towel-wrapped dry ice inside, fill all the space up with crumpled paper.
Crumpled paper reduces air space inside the container and, in effect, works as more insulation.
Step 5: Loose Lid
Secure the top with a loose lid.
This will allow sublimated carbon dioxide gas to escape from the container.
Remember that an airtight container cannot accommodate pressure changes caused by sublimation and, therefore, can explode.
Step 6: Cold and Ventilated Area
Finally, if you have already gone through Steps 1 through 5, place the insulated container in a cold and well-ventilated area.
Doing this will ensure that the dry ice goes through very minimal sublimation.
Keep a watchful eye on your storage location to avoid unexpected accidents.
Lastly, as most dangerous substances would indicate on their packaging, keep dry ice out of children’s reach.
The focus of storage is to prevent the conversion from dry ice to carbon dioxide gas.
Once you learn the basics, storing dry ice in a completely safe manner is reasonably straightforward.
Use protective gear, loosely-lidded and insulated containers, crumpled paper for more insulation, and cold and well-ventilated storage space.