Your searching for that perfect performance cooler and you want to know how to use dry ice in a Yeti or other high end cooler? First you’ll be happy to know there are several high end coolers that will use lighter weight dry ice which has several other benefits over regular ice. Since dry ice is so much colder than regular ice I’ll explain how to combine the two for just the right temperature control in your new cooler.
What is Dry Ice
Just like regular ice is the frozen form of H2O or water, dry ice is the frozen form of Carbon Dioxide. The big difference is that water freezes at 32°F and this is the limit of cold it can maintain while dry ice freezes at -109°F which lets it freeze items quickly. [toc]This is why when shopping for a high end or performance cooler its important to make sure you select one that will work with dry ice and not be damaged by the extreme cold temperature. If the inner cooler wall plastic is too thin it could crack from the extreme cold temperature of dry ice. Because high end coolers are built with thicker roto-molded wall construction, they are more likely to be designed to hold up to the extreme cold temperature provided by using dry ice.
One big advantage to using dry ice in your new performance cooler is the fact that it does not melt like ice. It sublimates or more like evaporates into thin air. So this means it doesn’t leave a lot of water behind to water log your cooler content. It’s worth noting here that because dry ice changes back to its gas form of carbon dioxide when it sublimates, it’s important to use it in a well ventilated area.
This is important to know because the carbon dioxide it gives off will not hurt you but too much of it in an enclosed area, like opening the cooler in a closed vehicle can cause shortness of breath if the cooler has been stored for a few days without opening. So always try to open your cooler in a well ventilated area.
What makes dry ice so interesting for use in your high end cooler is that it weighs about half as much as regular ice but because it’s so much colder it can last up to twice as long. So it adds less weight o the load while giving you much longer and colder storage.
Dry Ice Coolers
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How Long Does Dry Ice Last
How long does dry ice last is kind of a complicated question. This is because it will depend partially on how good a cooler you invest in but also on whether you use dry ice alone or with regular ice. In order to get the best use out of dry ice or any ice for that matter, you need to pack the cooler as full as possible. Air space equals faster melting. This is why its important to select a cooler that is large enough for your average trip but not so large that you rarely fill it full.
If you use only dry ice you are going to freeze everything inside solid and be able to keep it that way for a number of days. This is because the dry ice is frozen to a temperature of -109°F. Even if you plan to keep everything frozen for as long as possible its still a good idea to fill all the spaces left between dry ice and cooler content with regular ice to help hold the temperature down.
If your goal is cold but not frozen then you need to place about a 10 pound block of dry ice for every 15 inches of of cooler length in the bottom of your cooler and then load the rest of the cooler full with content and regular ice. (Never touch dry ice directly with your bare skin). If you have a large cooler and not a lot of food or other content then try to find block ice to add with your dry ice. The block ice will stay frozen much longer than cubed ice causing less mess.
How to Use Dry Ice
You will buy dry ice in block form. Because of its extremely low temperature -109°F, you will want to handle it with protective gloves. Wrap the dry ice in several layers of old news paper before placing it in the cooler. Most people will load the dry ice in the bottom of their cooler for convenience but it will actually cool the best if placed at the top of the cooler.
When you’re filling the cooler, once the dry ice and food or drinks are inside, fill all remaining air spaces with regular water ice in block or cube form. Dry ice will sublimate or turn back to carbon dioxide gas leaving no mess except for the news papers. Remember about the carbon monoxide gas though and always use dry ice in a well ventilated area.
How to Keep Ice From Melting
Everyone wants to know how to keep ice from melting in their high end cooler? It’s important to remember that though you are buying a cooler designed to keep cold in, it will do just as good a job keeping hot in too. For this reason there are a few precautions you should take when storing your new cooler as well as getting ready for that next trip.
Load a Cool Cooler
Think about how well your new cooler will hold cool in and heat out. The same thing works against you if you’ve stored your cooler closed up in a warm location and decide to fill it and go. With the warm interior you could melt up to 10 pounds of ice just cooling the warm ice chest interior down. So always store your ice chest in a cool location and open it to cooler air for a while before loading it with ice and content.
Ice Temperatures Vary Significantly
Ice that appears wet or dripping (around 32°F) or warm ice at its meting point will not last as long as ice that has just come out of a freezer at a colder temperature. As mentioned above, dry ice (-109°F) is so much colder, it will actually freeze thawed food in the cooler. So pack your cooler with the coldest ice you can get to insure the longest cold storage time.
Better Block Ice or Cubed Ice
Here are the facts, cubed ice will cool your food or drinks down faster but cubed ice will melt much faster. If you have access to both, I suggest you place block ice in the bottom of your cooler and then load the contents and fill all remaining spaces with cubed ice. Because you will melt a lot of ice if you put warm contents in the cooler I also recommend pre-cooling everything that will go into your cooler. This means don’t pick up a case of beer off the shelf if you can buy it out of the cooler for the same price. It takes almost 10 pounds of ice to cool a case of beer from room temperature. In the end, dry ice is always the best choice for extended trips since it will outlast both block and cubed ice but it works best in a combination. Be sure and review our list of dry ice approved coolers before making a choice of which cooler to buy.
Water in Your Cooler
You don’t want to empty water out of your cooler while its in use. The water is almost the same temperature as the ice and will help it last longer. It’s important to keep any open food or meat out of this water and avoid contact directly with the ice as well. you should never use ice that’s been in a cooler to cooling cans or food to add to a drink. There are all kinds of bacteria on food containers and cans. So have a second cooler with just clean ice for drinks.
Yeti Cooler Dry Ice Summery
No matter whether you decide on a new Yeti Tundra, Grizzly, or Pelican high end cooler you will get much longer ice retention by adding dry ice blocks to your cooler set-up. You can find dry ice in most grocery stores and will buy it by the pound. It is best to use dry ice in combination with regular ice blocks or cubes in order to control the internal cooler temperature an extend the ice retention of your performance cooler.