How To Use Dry Ice In A Cooler


If you are tired of using regular ice in your cooler and finding soggy items in a puddle of melted ice, dry ice may be a good alternative. Dry ice will keep your drinks or food colder and it evaporates instead of melting. 

While most coolers are compatible with dry ice nowadays, you need to understand the correct way to use the dry ice to get maximum benefits. In this guide, we will focus on showing you how to use dry ice in a cooler. 

What is Dry Ice?

Before we show you how to use dry ice in a cooler, we need to ensure you understand what it is. Dry ice is made by freezing carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is the gas we breathe out when exhaling and it is also responsible for the fizzy stuff in sodas. 

Frozen carbon dioxide is extremely cold. Dry ice in a cooler can be as cold as negative 109.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike traditional ice, dry ice does not liquefy as it warms. It simply becomes gas and dissipates into the air. 

Step by Step Guide on How to Use Dry Ice in A Cooler 

1. Prepare Your Cooler 

Dry ice can be used with most coolers as long as they have a way of ventilating them. To ventilate the evaporating gas, the beach cooler should have a drainage cap or a lid that does not seal completely shut. 

If you need a small cooler – say, for your camping trip – choose a urethane-insulated box or a Styrofoam cooler. For larger coolers, choose plastic or roto-molded cooler. 

If you won’t be using a Styrofoam cooler, protect your cooler’s plastic interior by making use of pieces of cardboard or Styrofoam. Simply lay the pieces on the bottom and the sides of your plastic lunch cooler

As the dry ice evaporates, carbon dioxide gas can build-up within the cooler. To avoid damaging the cooler, leave the lid slightly cracked if you are using a urethane or Styrofoam box. If you are using the roto-molded or plastic cooler, unscrew the drainage cap for the gas to escape. 

2. Arrange the Dry Ice in Your Cooler 

When handling dry ice, you must wear protective gloves. Since dry ice is extremely cold, it can burn bare skin – your goal is to go camping with dry ice without getting burned. 

To make the dry ice last longer, wrap the blocks in an old newspaper. The newspaper will help slow down evaporation time by insulating the ice. To have the ability to access your drinks and food easily or frequently, arrange the dry ice blocks at the bottom of your cooler. 

Gaps will probably exist between the dry ice blocks. To help the dry ice in the cooler last longer, take sheets of newspaper, wad them into loose balls, and then place them in between the dry ice blocks. Space between the dry ice will speed up the rate of evaporation. 

3. If Needed, Cover the Dry Ice with a Piece of Cardboard

When going camping with dry ice, you may want to keep your drinks from freezing completely. If you are camping with kids and other people, you may want to keep them from accidentally touching the dry ice. 

Lay a piece of cardboard directly above the dry ice at the bottom of your cooler. Cut a hole approximately 1-inch wide in the cardboard so that the gas has a way to escape as the dry ice evaporates. The cardboard will act as a buffer. 

4. Put the Items in the Cooler 

Pack your cooler for camping by placing food and drinks on top of the dry ice. Ensure that the items are as close as possible to each other. If you have some spaces between the items, fill them up with pieces of newspaper as we did in step 2. 

5. If Necessary, Put Dry Ice on Top 

Maybe you are planning a long-distance hike and you would like your food to freeze as quickly as possible. If you are wondering how to use dry ice in a cooler in a way that transforms the cooler into a freezer, you will need to place the items at the bottom of the cooler instead of on top. 

For example, you can place meat from a hunting trip in storage bags at the bottom of your Coleman cooler. Next, set the dry ice on top of the meat so that it freezes quickly. If, however, you plan on getting in and out of the cooler – for example, when camping with dry ice – avoid putting dry ice on top. 



Q: How Long Is Dry Ice Good for In A Cooler?


Dry ice in cooler will last for 18 to 24 hours. The shelf life depends on how you store the dry ice and the size of the blocks. If you use big dry ice blocks that are well insulated, they should last for a long time.

Q: How Much Dry Ice Do I Need for A Cooler?


The amount of dry ice you need depends on the cooler size. For example, a 37 to 56-liter cooler will hold approximately 4.5 kg of dry ice for 24 hours.

Q: Can Dry Ice Explode in A Cooler?


Dry ice can explode if put in an airtight and unvented cooler. As the dry ice evaporates, pressure increases inside the cooler if vents that allow the gas to escape are not available. Ventilating a cooler can eliminate the risk of explosion.

Q: Is Dry Ice Better Than Regular Ice in A Cooler?


Dry ice may be a better option since it does not wet your items. Regular ice melts into the water which often makes the items in the cooler soggy. As it gets warmer, dry ice evaporates and dissipates into the air. At -109.3 degrees Fahrenheit, dry ice offers better cooling qualities than regular ice which is only 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Q: Where Do You Put Dry Ice in A Cooler?


If you intend to go camping with dry ice, the best place to put dry ice is at the bottom. If, however, your goal is to freeze your food quickly, placing the ice on top may be a good idea.

Globo Surf Overview 

Unlike regular ice, dry ice does not wet your food and drinks as it gets hot. This makes it a good alternative. However, you need to know how to use dry ice in a cooler to derive maximum benefits. If you intend to go camping with dry ice in the cooler, the steps outlined above should make things much easier for you.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!