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Using Dry Ice on Your Camping Trip

Camping in the great outdoors is an excellent way to unplug from the stress of daily life but dealing with melted ice and soggy groceries is no fun.

You can avoid the hassle and concern about spoiled food by packing your coolers with dry ice. With its incredible cooling power, dry ice will keep your food chilled all weekend! Dry ice is easy to find, too. In fact, there are more than 5,000 Penguin Brand Dry Ice® retailers around the country. Find one near you with our store locator tool.

Campers frequently ask The Penguin how to use dry ice to transport perishable or frozen foods. (Who wouldn’t enjoy eating ice cream while camping?) We’re happy to share everything you need to know about how to pack your coolers with dry ice.

First, a few general tips:

    1. Pack frozen foods and chilled foods in separate coolers, as you’ll want to use a slightly different packing technique for each (don’t worry, we’ll explain below).
    2. Make sure to pack enough dry ice to last your entire trip. We recommend packing 10 to 12 pounds per day in each standard-sized cooler.
    3. To prolong the life of your dry ice, avoid placing the cooler in direct sunlight.
    4. Purchase your dry ice on the day you head out on your camping trip, as it will begin to sublimate (transform from a solid to a gas) right away.
    5. When transporting dry ice, be sure there is sufficient ventilation. As dry ice sublimates, the carbon dioxide gas will displace oxygen. We recommend storing your cooler in the trunk of your car or bed of your truck while driving to your destination.
    6. If you’re using an air-tight cooler, keep in mind that the carbon dioxide gas will expand inside the cooler as the dry ice sublimates. Unscrew the drainage cap slightly to ensure that the gas has room to escape, or simply make sure to open the cooler a few times each day.
    7. Avoid storing glass containers in your cooler with dry ice, as the extremely cold temperatures can cause glass to become brittle.

 

How to keep food chilled while camping:

For items that don’t need to be frozen, use dry ice in conjunction with wet ice. The dry ice will help to keep the wet ice from melting over time. Remember to always handle dry ice with gloves or a hand towel, as dry ice is a skin irritant.

Step 1: Insulate dry ice with newspaper, cardboard, etc.

Step 2: Place dry ice at the bottom of the cooler. Then, layer wet ice over dry ice.

Step 3: Add items to be chilled. Then, pour wet ice over top.

How to keep food frozen while camping:

When items need to stay frozen, ditch the wet ice.

Step 1: Insulate dry ice with newspaper, cardboard, etc.

Step 2: Place dry ice at the bottom of the cooler. Then, add items to be frozen.

Step 3: Place dry ice on top. Then, close the cooler.

With these dry ice tips, you can avoid the leaks, the mess and the constant need for more wet ice! Give Penguin Brand Dry Ice ® a try, and don’t forget to read over our dry ice Safe Uses and Handling Guide to discover other tips and tricks for safely using dry ice.

P.S. If you’re looking for some recipe ideas for your next camping trip, here are some of our favorites!

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