What Is Dry Ice?

Simply put, dry ice is the solid form of CO2 or carbon dioxide gas. Normally, dry ice is odorless, colorless, and non-flammable. It is primarily used as a cooling agent while shipping frozen items, but you might have seen dry ice used in fog machines for dramatic effect in theaters.

Dry ice is known for its extreme coldness. Another unique feature of dry ice is that it sublimates. That means dry ice converts directly into carbon dioxide without melting into liquid form, so there will be no mess when using dry ice as opposed to normal water ice.

Dry Ice Temperature

Normally, dry ice is frozen at a temperature of -109.3 F or -78.5 °C. So you can see that it is an extremely cold temperature. Thus, handling dry ice without any protection would be dangerous.

How to Use Dry Ice – Dry Ice Safety Reminders

The number one safety reminder while using dry ice would be to not touch the dry ice directly. You should store it in a well-ventilated place. Additionally, you should not close the lid of the container holding the dry ice, fully.

Read our full guide on HOW TO USE DRY ICE here.

How Long Will Dry Ice Last?

This is not a simple question to answer because many factors are involved in the longevity of dry ice. But usually, 5 lbs of dry ice would take only up to 24 hours to turn into gas. Some of the factors to consider while trying to keep dry ice for longer is:

The Quality of the Container/Cooler/Box

Of course, if you have a great cooler or a styrofoam box with thick insulated walls, then you will be able to keep the dry ice cold for longer than usual.

Amount of Dry Ice Used

As usual, the more dry ice you have at your disposal, the longer it will last. That means 15 pounds of dry ice will last longer than 10 pounds of dry ice if stored properly.

Amount of Empty Space and Products in the Container

Remember, you should try to fill the cooler as much as possible. If there is air space inside the cooler, the dry ice will not last as long as usual. 

Thus, if you have a little amount of dry ice, you should use a smaller cooler so that there is less space inside. But if you have a lot of food for your camping recipe, then you’ll need a bigger cooler and more dry ice.

How To Pack a Cooler with Dry Ice

Normally, if the dry ice is stored on top of the cooler, it will evaporate faster compared to if it was stored at the bottom of the cooler.

However, if you are keeping it at the top, it might not keep the food cold enough as hot air rises. Because of this, it is better if you can pack the cooler with dry ice on both the top and bottom of it.

How to Tell If Dry Ice Is Bad, Rotten, or Spoiled?

If you are seeing the dry ice, then it is in good condition. However, if you see nothing where you left the dry ice, then the dry ice has sublimated or turned into vapor.

Mistakes to Avoid When Using Dry Ice

Dry ice could be very useful camping equipment. However, you should follow some rules and regulations while using exceedingly cold dry ice. For instance:

Buying Dry Ice a Long Time Before You Need It

By this time you know that dry ice usually lasts for up to 24 hours. Based on the storage system and the amount of dry ice, the time could be less than that. So it is not ideal to buy dry ice more than several hours earlier than when you would need it.

Handling it Without Caution

Dry ice can be very dangerous if you are not careful. Remember, it is even colder than a standard freeze, so if you have been handling it bare hands, then you are risking serious frostbite. 

Never taste dry ice. You could damage your tongue, mouth, and even internal organs. It is always mandatory to handle dry ice with gloves, tongs, or anything with better insulation.

Tossing It in the Trash Bin or Sink

If you have leftover refrigerated dry ice, it might be tempting to throw it in the sink or trash. But it is not a great idea, because the extreme coldness of the dry ice can easily damage the sink pipes and drainage system. 

Also, if you have left the dry ice in a closed trash bin, it could explode. So, you should wait for the leftover dry ice to evaporate normally without throwing it away.

Storing Dry Ice in a Closed Container

Packing dry ice in a cooler is a good idea if you want it to keep frozen. However, you should not close the lid of the cooler or the container completely. When dry ice starts to sublimate faster into carbon dioxide gas, the pressure inside the cooler will increase. 

Eventually, the cooler or container might explode. Meaning, you should store dry ice in a way so that the gas can escape without any problem while keeping food cold.

Keeping Dry Ice In A Non-ventilated Place

Carbon dioxide is not a good gas to inhale. As a result, you should store the dry ice in a well-ventilated place to keep everything safe.

FAQ

Can Dry Ice Last 3 Days?

It will be very difficult, but dry ice can last up to 3 days if you are packing the cooler properly and have a high-end cooler. Otherwise, dry ice won’t even last for up to 24 hours.

How Do You Keep Dry Ice From Melting?

First off, you will need a premium cooler like Pelican, Frosty Cooler, or Yeti Cooler. Then you will have to follow all the tips we have shared above to keep dry ice longer while overlanding

How long dry ice lasts mainly depends on various external and internal factors. For instance, you should use as much dry ice as possible. 

Also, you should avoid keeping empty air space inside the cooler. You can also combine the dry ice with gel packs or normal ice.

How Long Does Dry Ice Last In A Styrofoam Cooler?

Generally, dry ice lasts between 12 to 24 hours in a Styrofoam cooler. However, depending on the wall thickness and the insulation of the cooler, and the amount of dry ice, the amount of time dry ice lasts will vary.

Can Dry Ice Last A Week?

It is usually not possible for the dry ice to last a week longer. If you have a lot of dry ice, such as more than 30 lbs of dry ice, and you are using a top-notch insulated cooler for camping like YETI, then it could last for several days. But lasting for a week is very difficult.

Ferenc Elekes overlandsite

Ferenc Elekes has been a devout Overlanding enthusiast for many years. During that time, Ferenc has explored 75 countries on six continents, with overland travel involved in 40 countries on three continents. From his trusty 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado with a roof-top tent, he’s blogged about experiences that can only be found in the remotest regions on Earth. Along the way, he's gained in-depth knowledge of the novel challenges overlanders encounter and practical ways to meet them. On his website, he shares informed opinions about everything from the best overland gear to how to get a vehicle unstuck. Ferenc has also written for Ih8mud, the Expedition Portal, the Overland Journal, and he is often invited as a guest to outdoors-related podcasts.