Cold Chain Logistics, Life Science Shipping, Shipping & Logistics - General

How Much Dry Ice Do You Need When Shipping

November 13, 2023
How much dry ice do i need

Calculating the Right Amount of Dry Ice for Safe Shipping

Written By: Narek Hakobyan

Knowing how long dry ice (a solid form of carbon dioxide) lasts and making the most of its cooling power is crucial for shipping biological samples worldwide. Unlike regular ice, which melts into liquid water at 0°C (32°F), dry ice sublimates directly from a solid to a gas at 78.5°C (-109.3°F).

Factors Affecting How Long Dry Ice Lasts When Shipping

There are several factors that influence how long dry ice will last in your shipping container:

  • Quantity: Larger quantities of dry ice take longer to sublimate.
  • Insulation of Your Packaging: Using a well-insulated container of good quality can extend the lifespan.
  • Ambient Temperature: The temperature of the surrounding environment has a big impact. Keep this in mind when shipping during hot summer months or to regions with hot temperatures all year around.
  • Dry Ice Pellet Size: Smaller pellets tend to sublimate faster than larger ones.

How Much Dry Ice Do You Need?

Mercury’s Recommendation: Dry ice sublimates at a rate of 5-10 lbs per 24 hours in a well-insulated cooler. We recommend 5-10 lbs of dry ice per day for items weighing up to 12.5 lbs. A shipment lasting 2 days requires at least 20 lbs of dry ice.

Safety Tips for Handling Dry Ice

Be careful when you handle dry ice. Here are some safety tips:

  • Wear gloves and use tongs to prevent frostbites.
  • Ensure proper ventilation when using dry ice in enclosed spaces to prevent CO2 buildup.
  • Don’t store dry ice in airtight containers, as the CO2 gas can lead to pressure buildup and container rupture.
  • Clearly mark your containers to indicate the presence of dry ice. Always keep dry ice out of the reach of children and pets.

Fact: Dry ice does not “melt” – instead it sublimates into gas

Dry Ice Replenishment Service is Always an Option

If you regularly ship specimen materials that require the contents to remain being frozen, consider using a specialty cold chain service that includes dry ice replenishment during customs clearance for peace of mind that temperature excursions won’t happen during unforeseen delays.

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