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Smart Ways to Pack A Cooler With Dry Ice

Ice is a very common material for keeping drinks and other food items cold over a long time period of time in a cooler. There are two types of ice used for icing and preserving food and beverages. There is the common type called regular ice while the less popular is known as dry ice. Dry ice is simply frozen carbon-dioxide while regular ice is frozen water. Dry ice is formed by lowering the temperature of pressurized CO2 which is frozen into dry ice and when melting, it does not dissolve into water but is transformed into gas.

Knowing how to preserve dry ice in a cooler is essential if you want to preserve your beverages and food items for long hours without needing fresh ice blocks to replace the melted ones. Many coolers manufactured these days have specially designed features which are compatible with dry ice. Having such a cooler is one thing and knowing how to use it effectively is another thing entirely. The purpose of this article is to teach you exactly how to best pack your cooler with dry ice. First it’s important to know the uses and benefits of dry ice.

Benefits / Uses of Dry Ice

  1. Dry ice, as noted earlier, is frozen carbon-dioxide and it is much colder than the common regular ice. It is mainly used to keep drinks and food items frozen unlike the use of regular ice which only keeps items cold.
  2. Dry ice lasts much longer than regular ice. Its effect is longer lasing when large dry ice blocks are used for freezing. Large blocks sustain freezing temperatures much longer than smaller block pellets.
  3. When used, food items do not get wet while in the cooler unlike regular ice which melts into water. It is normal to open up coolers to find them filled with water from melted ice which keeps items cold for as long as the temperature can be sustained. While this may be fine for drinks, the reverse is the case when regular ice is used to preserve food items like snacks which could make them soggy. Dry ice does not dissolve into water but is sublimated into gas which freezes items and doesn’t get them wet in the process.

How to Pack Dry Ice?

There are different ways to pack your cooler with dry ice and each method has its advantages and disadvantages. Deciding on a method will depend on the nature of items to be iced and for how long you intend to preserve them before use. Below are two packing methods you can adopt


Pack the Dry Ice at the bottom of the cooler

The dry ice blocks/pellets are arranged at the bottom of the cooler and all the items are arranged at the top of the ice pile. This method is best used if you intend to store items in the cooler for longer time periods. It serves a dual purpose of freezing the items close to the ice blocks while refrigerating other items at the top of the pile


Pack the Dry Ice on top of the cooler

This is simply the reverse practice of keeping ice at the bottom. The items are arranged underneath and the dry ice is kept on top of the items. As the dry ice melts into gas, it drops onto the items below freezing temperature and cools them in the process.

To preserve dry ice longer in your cooler, there are some tips you can follow;

Use large blocks: Smaller block pellets melt faster than large block pieces. Use large dry blocks for a longer lasting freeze.

Wrap with insulated materials: Newspapers are very effective in preserving them. Wrapping the ice with newspapers reduces the propensity of the ice melting quickly. Towels can also be used.

Do not open the cooler except when necessary: Constantly exposing the ice and contents to air will increase de-freezing. To sustain the cold temperature for longer, only open the cooler when necessary.

Use regular ice: Use small crumbs of regular ice to fill up little spaces after arranging the items either below or on top of the dry ice blocks to maximize benefits.

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