Shipping with Dry Ice

Dry ice is the ideal coolant used to keep shipments frozen 

Dry ice is readily available, inexpensive, and maintains a frozen temperature for a long time. It also sublimates into a gas instead of melting into a liquid, like water ice, which would damage a shipment. Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide (CO2) and because of its extremely low temperature can be dangerous if not handled correctly. 

Dry ice can burn skin if touched, the gas vapor can explode if not allowed to vent. Because of this there are very specific regulations around shipping with dry ice.

There are 3 steps to shipping with dry ice, no matter what method of shipping you use:

  1. Get dry ice which is readily available at local dry ice suppliers and even some grocery or big box stores. Mercury couriers can also bring dry ice to any location such as your lab, office or a clinical site.
  2. Pack your contents into a thermal container. There are a variety of containers that can be used for shipping with dry ice from a simple styrofoam box to a vacuum insulated panel thermal shipper.* Depending on the specifics of your shipment, choose the box that is right for you.
  3. Follow the shipping regulations. Read our article about the specific regulations for shipping with dry ice, including how to label the boxes with a UN1845 label.

*For our clients, Mercury works with the best validated thermal shipper manufacturers to provide you with the boxes that are best for your specific shipment as well as temperature monitors and GPS trackers if you need them.

Replenishment of Dry Ice Is Possible While in Transit

Depending on how you ship dry ice can be replenished while in transit in case of a carrier issue or customs delay. The availability of dry ice replenishment during shipping varies with express carriers, but when using a specialty cold chain service such as Mercury's, it is possible to refill the dry ice during transit.

The Right Shipment Method

When choosing a shipping method, it is important to assess the importance of your shipment. For high-value, crucial shipments that cannot be replaced, it is advisable to use a specialty cold chain service or a same-day courier. On the other hand, routine, low-value shipments with dry ice can typically be sent through express carriers, particularly if they are within the same country.

Below is a general guide on which shipment method to use but we recommend to consult with an expert should you have any questions.

Express DeliveryCold ChainCourier Service
Used for ambient shipmentsTemperature-controlled 
international shipments 
Shipments within driving distance
Overnight shipmentsCritical domesticRequires fastest delivery method
Overnight shipments that need
to maintain +2 to +8 Celsius
Specific pickup or delivery 
Specific pickup or delivery instructions
Routine, low value international shipments

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