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Dry ice is a great way to keep food or drinks cool without using electricity. The problem is, it only lasts for a short period. How long would you say it lasts before it melts away?

Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide (CO2) gas. It has a very low boiling point, so it evaporates easily. This means it can be used to chill foods and beverages. Dry ice is also useful for keeping things cold longer because it releases CO2 slowly over time.

“How long does dry ice last?” You might be surprised at the answer. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, dry ice can stay in a freezer for about three months. That said, it’s important to remember that dry ice isn’t meant to replace refrigeration.

Instead, it should be used to extend the life of other cooling methods. In this article, we look at dry ice in closer detail and work out just how long it lasts in a cooler.

What Is Dry Ice?

Dry ice consists of solid carbon dioxide (dry ice). It’s made by compressing pure CO2 into blocks called “slabs.” Slabs are then placed in containers and cooled until they’re completely solid. Dry ice keeps the food and other items in your ice chest frozen, but when exposed to air, it evaporates back to its original form, which we all know as gas.

The average person uses approximately 2 pounds of dry ice per year. However, some people use more than 10 pounds of dry ice each month!

How Long Does Dry Ice Last In A Cooler?

Dried ice is most commonly used to keep foods cold for an extended amount of time. Ice retention does depend on a range of factors, but dry ice will typically last for about 24 hours in a cooler.

This is an average and in general, it usually lasts between 15-26 hours. It is therefore not long-lasting, but it will keep your food frozen solid, and at times, it can be a lot better than normal ice. This is especially true if you are trying to keep meat cold on long camping trips.

How Long Does Dry Ice Last In A Styrofoam Cooler?

The amount of dry ice used determines how much time the dry ice will last inside the styrofoam cooler, just as if you were measuring how long regular ice will last. A small amount of dry ice won’t last very long, but a large amount of dry ice will last longer.

A small amount will last no longer than a couple of hours, whereas by adding more it can last up to a few days. This is because the less dry ice there is, the less heat is required to alter its state. Simply using more of it, can therefore allow it to last longer.

A styrofoam cooler is a good insulator as it has tiny air bubbles to prevent heat transfer. The thickness of the styrofoam cooler affects how much time it takes for the dry ice to evaporate. You should therefore use a thicker cooler because it keeps things colder for longer with higher insulating ability.

By putting a smaller cooler inside a bigger cooler when you don’t have a thicker cooler, you can create an insulated container. You can glue pieces of styrofoam together to create a larger piece of styrofoam and make the container thicker.

How To Pack A Cooler With Dry Ice

Normally, around ten pounds of dry ice can keep its form for up to 24 hours when kept in an average 25-quart cooler, however, there are many factors to consider here.

You’ll need to consider what kind of food you’re storing, whether it is originally refrigerated or frozen, the cooler size, ambient conditions, and how long you plan to store the food.

To keep your food frozen for longer using dry ice, try storing your cooler away from direct sunlight and opening it as few times as possible. You can also add extra insulation as the day continues.

How To Handle Dry Ice

If you want to use dry ice to keep food chilled for longer, make sure you have enough. If you don’t have enough, you may end up with some of your food going bad

It is recommended that you do not put any liquid directly on dry ice. The liquid will freeze and expand, causing cracks in the slab.

How Long Does Dry Ice Last In A Cooler (1)

You can use dry ice to keep your drink cold, however. Simply place the container containing the beverage in a container with the dry ice. The dry ice will absorb heat from the liquid and cool it down.

Dry ice is even colder than normal ice, so it’s essential that you wear protective gloves when handling it. Using a pair of tongs to move it around is preferable to using your hands, and try your best not to inhale any of the gas that emanates from it as it heats up over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Buy Dry Ice?

You’ll find dry ice in grocery stores, convenience stores, hardware stores, and even online retailers like

Should I Freeze Items Before Putting In Them In A Cooler?

If you put room temperature items straight into the cooler, this might cause the dry ice to melt and evaporate more quickly as the heat from the items will warm the dry ice.

To stop this, always freeze your items before putting them in the cooler, and you can line your cooler with aluminum foil which is great at insulating heat conduction. Combining styrofoam and aluminum will make an effective insulator and this means your dry will last a lot longer.

For items that do not need to be frozen solid, use dry ice alongside regular ice cubes to simply keep your food fresher and colder for longer.

How Long Will Dry Ice Last?

In most cases, ten pounds of dry ice can keep food frozen for around 24 hours when placed in a 25-quart cooler, however, there are still so many factors to consider.

What Kind Of Food Should I Keep Frozen With Dry Ice?

Dry ice is great for keeping foods frozen for longer periods. It works well for meats, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and other perishable goods.

Final Thoughts

We hope after reading this article you have learned everything you need to know about dry ice and how long it will last in a cooler.

Dry ice is a great option for keeping food and drink frozen when on a camping trip and although it only lasts generally for about 24 hours at a time, it keeps your food frozen solid, as opposed to just cool as with regular ice.

So why not give dry ice go next time you go camping, and see for yourself how useful it can be!

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