Dry Ice vs. Ice Gel Packs

The Function of Dry Ice and Ice Gel Packs

Dry Ice and Ice Gel Packs are placed inside packages containing frozen or cold products that need to be kept cool. Some of these temperature-sensitive goods include medical supplies, fresh produce, and meats, where their quality is prone to be compromised when exposed to heat. Dry ice and Ice Gel Packs are used as there is no liquid waste when heat is applied to the package. Dry ice sublimates, while ice gel packs contain all liquid within the pouch. Hence, be assured that your products will not come in contact with any liquids.

What is Dry Ice?

Dry ice is the same as carbon dioxide in a solid-state at -79ºC. Dry ice is manufactured by compressing carbon dioxide gas under high pressure to produce liquid carbon dioxide (dry ice). It does not melt when heated, and it changes into a gas, also known as sublimation. The sublimation speed is tied closely to the surface and cubic density area of the shape of the dry ice. Dry ice in the form of pellets and snow with higher surface area and less density will be more likely to sublimate quicker than a block of dry ice. Because dry ice is extremely cold, it is ideal for products that do not have a low-temperature threshold, lowering the product’s temperature to stay frozen or cold for a more extended period.

Dry Ice Packaging

Using dry ice keeps your products frozen solid throughout the whole journey. For transportation of products with a long journey, it is best to use dry ice. However, dry ice should not be used together with perishable items that cannot freeze. These include fresh meats and produce live seafood and flowers. Any food products shipped with dry ice should be completely sealed to prevent dry ice from changing the texture and taste of the product.

Dry ice can be beneficial when handled correctly. However, if dry ice is dealt with without the proper protection, it can be dangerous to the user. Dry ice is usually considered a hazardous material during shipping. Hence, users handling dry ice should wear insulated clothing and gloves. It should also not come into contact with bare skin as it can burn the user. Another point to note when shipping products with dry ice is to add the proper safety and hazard labels to the package before shipping it out.

Considerations on Dry Ice

  • Amount of dry ice to product
  • Density of the external packaging
  • Avoid the use of airtight packages; an air passage should be available
  • Proper labelling

What are Ice Gel Packs?

Ice Gel Packs are poly bags filled with water or polymer gel. They are typically water-based, so they have a phase change of 0 degrees Celsius, freezing and thawing around the same rate as water. Furthermore, the temperature ranges an ice gel pack can maintain is from 2ºC to 8ºC. Ice Gel Packs are ideal for perishable items that must not freeze. Unlike dry ice, they cannot reach frigid temperatures, which does not damage those products sensitive to freezing. They are also suitable for products that do not need much refrigeration. Ice Gel Packs can also aid in the dry ice sublimation process by placing them together with dry ice in the package, prolonging dry ice coolness, and providing more coverage for frozen products in transit.

Ice Gel Packs Packaging

Ice Gel Packs are best used for quick deliveries and journeys, where products such as fresh produce and meats, dairy products, and some pharmaceutical goods do not need to be frozen solid. These packs are easy to use and, because they are sealed entirely in poly bags, they eliminate the possibility of contaminating your products. While ice gel packs can keep your products cold, they thaw much faster than dry ice. Even after they melt, ice gel packs still have some thermal mass which slows the temperature down. Unlike dry ice, once it completely disappears, the products are on their own. Ice gel packs do not require any special handling too. When using ice gel packs, the factors to note are shipping destination, duration, humidity, container insulation, and size. These will ultimately determine how long the ice gel packs can last in the package.

How to Package Products with Dry Ice/Ice Gel Packs?

With suitable packaging, your frozen products and perishable goods can be kept cold for a longer time.

  1. Prepare the Container

Streampeak provides thermal liner boxes that reduce heat transfer between products and the environment to maintain the optimal temperature. The temperature control helps in restoring the freshness and quality of the goods in transit. If you do not have box liners, you can opt for Styrofoam containers. Place the box liners or Styrofoam containers into a corrugated cardboard box.

  1. Fill the Box Liner with Ice Gel Packs or Dry Ice

Set the bottom and sides of the box with ice gel packs or dry ice. Try to fill empty spaces with packing peanuts to ensure the product does not move around.

  1. Add your Products in

Place your products or food in the middle of the package. Add more dry ice, ice gel packs, or packing peanuts if there is still space between the box and your product. It is also recommended to package your products in an airtight bag to keep them colder longer. For frozen food, make sure to freeze them all the way through before placing them in the package.

  1. Seal the Box and Add Labels

Seal the box with heavy-duty tape. If dry ice is used, make sure to paste the required safety labels on the box.

For further information on the best option for your packaging needs, contact our sales team enquiry@streampeak.com.sg today for assistance.