How to Choose Temperature Indicator Labels for Packaging
Published On:August 11, 2022 Revised On:March 16, 2023

How to Choose Temperature Indicator Labels for Packaging

The Temperature indicator label’s primary function is to identify, tag, categorise, and provide information about a product exposure during storage or shipment. In this article, let us share more information about packaging to protect goods against temperature damage.

What is a temperature indicator label?

A temperature indicator label is a small, easy-to-use, cost-effective control device. It determines and displays a product’s duration of exposure to excessive temperatures during shipping, storage or processing. Typical applications include monitoring the temperature of pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and fresh produce during transportation. The packaging labels change colour if there is a temperature excursion outside the preset limits.

There are a variety of temperature indicator labels. Labels such as the Time-Temperature Indicator indicate if the temperature deviation exceeds a preset time. The Freeze Check and ColdMark Temperature Indicator are used in shipments to indicate a temperature deviation below 0°C.

How does it work?

Temperature indicator labels have temperature-sensitive elements that produce unique, high-precision colour change effects using the sharply defined melting points of a series of specially purified organic chemicals. Each temperature point uses a different chemical compound and is made separately by applying a coating containing the chemical to a unique paper substrate. When the temperature exceeds, the chemical melts and is absorbed by the substrate, resulting in a permanent colour change.

They can be attached to almost any surface with their solid adhesive backing. This makes the packaging labels ideal for temperature monitoring as users can apply the indicator to the surface and monitor it later to determine the highest temperature.

Why is a temperature indicator label important?

Temperature is a packaging solution to help in determining the shelf life of perishable products. Deviations in the temperature profile can result in the growth or survival of microorganisms, which ultimately causes product spoilage. Furthermore, incorrect freezing can denature the proteins of meat or other products. Temperature indicator labels can be used to monitor if the cold chain or a required temperature is effectively maintained during the food supply chain.

Types of Temperature indicator labels

Three to five-level temperature labels

These temperature indicator labels provide a precise, affordable, disposable record of temperature changes. The irreversible temperature indicators are available in one, three, five, or eight temperature steps, with temperatures ranging from 32°C to 260°C. These temperature indicator labels can be utilised in the following applications: manufacturing, processing, storage, shipping, monitoring the shelf temperature of heat-sensitive products, dishwashers, heat sanitising, ovens, dryers, and curing operations.

One example is the Thermax five-Level Temperature Clock Indicators. They are simple temperature monitoring packaging solutions with five-alarm stickers that change from silver to black individually as temperature rises above specific values. Each alarm sticker is triggered at a different temperature level to provide better data on the temperature during shipping.

Time-Temperature Indicators

Time-Temperature Indicators have a variety of time and temperature ranges. They can be used to monitor the cold chain for perishable products, vaccines and a wide range of other applications during shipping and storage.

Types of Time-Temperature Indicators

WarmMark is a single-use time-temperature indicator that alerts users when their products are exposed to unacceptable temperatures. This single-use temperature recorder for shipping turns red when it reaches the temperature threshold selected. Then, unlike many temperature indicator labels, WarmMark starts a countdown, with its three individual indicator dots changing colour for brief, moderate, and prolonged exposure. Those durations vary by temperature. WarmMark provides insights into cold chain logistics so the user will know which packages may have experienced thermal damage and which were handled correctly.

The WarmMark Duo temperature indicator indicates the duration of temperature exposure at two different activation temperature levels, 10°C and 34°C, in one packaging indicator. If the temperature climbs beyond two specific thresholds, a red colour moves through the windows of the indicator with time. If the temperature returns below the threshold, the red colour stops moving. This way, handlers and shippers could know how long the product was exposed above the threshold temperature.

The WarmMark Long Run temperature indicators indicate a product’s long-term exposure to temperature excursions above either 10°C or 31°C. The WarmMark Long Run packaging temperature indicators will monitor for long-term vulnerabilities for up to 7 days, depending on the severity of the temperatures experienced. Also, it is helpful for products with known temperature stability and expiration characteristics at a specific time or temperature combination. The WarmMark Long Run can positively affect the business’s bottom line because it indicates a product’s long-term exposure to temperature excursions.

Freeze Check Temperature Indicators detect temperatures that are below 0°C. Once it reaches an out-of-range temperature, the irreversible temperature indicator turns white, and the check mark disappears.

ColdMark Temperature Indicators are available at 0°C and -3°C and apply to a product, package or carton of products sensitive to extremely cold temperatures.

Blood Temp 10 accurately monitors the temperature of Blood Bags during storage and transit. If the temperature breaches 10°C, the temperature indicator will visually alert handlers.

What is the difference between Non-Reversible and Reversible Temperature Indicator Labels?

Reversible temperature labels can change back and forth to indicate the temperature readings. One advantage of reversible labels is that they can be used repeatedly. Non-reversible temperature labels are usable once to indicate that the preset temperature has been reached. Non-reversible labels are useful when an operator is unavailable or does not have access to the label attached to the product tested. A non-reversible label can be evaluated at any time to see if the specified temperature has been reached.

Advantages of Temperature Indicator Labels

There are various advantages to using temperature indicator labels over other methods of determining surface temperature. First and foremost, the temperature readings obtained are undeniably from the measured surface. Since the temperature-sensitive indicator label is directly applied to the surface, it changes state in direct response to only that surface.

Another advantage of employing temperature indicator labels is that users do not have to worry about any signal delay. Since a mark made by a crayon has such a small mass, it quickly reaches equilibrium with the surface. Using a “huge” probe increases response time and may result in an inaccurately low value. There is no heat transfer away from the surface when using temperature indicator labels and no reliance on the duration of heating.

The third advantage of indicator labels is that their application is straightforward and affordable. Most alternative methods of determining surface temperatures necessitate technical skills, knowledge, and sophisticated instrumentation. Indicator labels provide surface temperature measurements with minimum effort, training, or cost.


Medical solutions

Temperature indicator labels are used in the medical field to maintain the integrity of medical devices, pharmaceuticals, vaccines, blood, organs, and tissue, among other things. All of these require different temperature ranges. Hence choosing the correct label is essential.

Food Temperature Monitoring

Proper temperature monitoring can distinguish between profit and loss, edible and ruined, and safe and hazardous. Hence, choosing the best cold chain monitoring selection for unique needs is crucial whether transporting Frozen, Refrigerated, Packaged Goods, Dairy, or Seafood.

Industrial Solutions

Industrial temperature monitoring is helpful for manufacturing processes, heat treating, electronics, aerospace applications, shipping and storage, automotive, sterilisation, bonding textiles and much more. Using an indicator label also maximises safe product handling as staff will follow relevant rules when handling products.

Key considerations when choosing the correct label

  1. Temperature range

The temperature to be monitored is the most critical factor in choosing the best label.

First and foremost, the target temperature must be included to examine the history of temperature transitions over the threshold temperature. If you only have one goal temperature, the one with the most detectable labels can be useful.

  1. Outdoor/Indoor use

Organising the products in the product portfolio matrix divides the products by two factors: the location of use (indoors/outdoors) and reusability. Choose the more durable labels if products are exposed to sunlight, water, oil, sand, and other elements.

  1. Reversible/Irreversible

The other factor in sorting the product portfolio matrix is reusability. Reversible labels are primarily used indoors to check cable and pipeline temperatures. In contrast, irreversible labels are used outdoors, such as for the safety control of outdoor electrical devices, lines, panels, and other components in power plants.

As there are a wide variety of temperature indicator labels in the market, choosing the correct temperature indicator label is especially important to measure product temperatures accurately.

Temperature Indicator Label