Frequently Asked Questions

Dry Ice Blasting: Basics

What is dry ice blasting?

Dry ice blasting, or dry ice cleaning, is an environmentally responsible cleaning and surface preparation technique.

It is similar to sand, bead and soda blasting in that it prepares and cleans surfaces using a media accelerated in a pressurized air stream. It differs in that dry ice cleaning uses solid carbon dioxide (CO2) pellets or MicroParticles, which are blasted at supersonic speeds and sublimate on impact, lifting dirt and contaminants off the underlying substrate.

The process is non-abrasive, non-conductive, non-flammable, and non-toxic. The dry ice blasting process also does not create secondary waste. The dry ice sublimates, or phase transitions from solid CO2 to gaseous CO2, when it impacts the surface being cleaned.

Read more about the dry ice blasting process

How does dry ice blasting work?

There are three primary factors that contribute to the dry ice cleaning process. The factors are Pellet Kinetic Energy, the Thermal Shock Effect, and the Thermal-Kinetic Effect. In order to more easily explain the process, we have created the following acronym (ICE).

Impact – Impact of pellets creates a Kinetic Energy Effect. The soft dry ice is accelerated by compressed air through specially designed nozzles at supersonic speeds.

Cold – Cold temperature of dry ice pellets creates a Thermal Effect. The temperature of dry ice (-109°F / -78.9°C) causes the contaminant to embrittle. This helps break the bond between the substrate and the contaminant.

Expansion – Expansion of the dry ice pellets. Dry ice pellets sublimate upon impact, volumetrically expanding in size, removing the contaminant.

Read more about how dry ice blasting works

What are the benefits of dry ice blasting?

Due to the unique characteristics of dry ice, it has many benefits that make it a more attractive cleaning solution than alternatives. The benefits include:

  1. Cleaning equipment in place with little or no disassembly
  2. Dry cleaning with no water or chemicals
  3. Reducing downtime associated with cleaning
  4. Cleaning without secondary waste
  5. Improving product quality and reducing scrap
  6. Eliminating equipment wear and tear
  7. An environmentally responsible cleaning method

Read more about the benefits of dry ice blasting

Dry Ice Blasting: Getting Started

What do I need to get started with dry ice blasting?

Dry ice blasting requires a simple setup. Along with your dry ice blasting machine, the systems will come complete with both a blast and air hose, an applicator, and a nozzle that is best suited for your application.

The only other items needed to operate the system are:

  • Compressed air source (either plant air or an air compressor)
  • Electric power source
  • Dry ice supply

An after cooler may be useful if you are using a portable diesel compressor as your air source. An after cooler removes most of the moisture from the system and can cool the air within 15°F (-9.4°C) of the surrounding air. This is primarily dependent on humidity levels.

Learn more about our dry ice blasting machines

Where do I get dry ice?

Most of our customers purchase their dry ice pellets or blocks from industrial gas suppliers, welding supply companies and other regional or local suppliers. Dry ice can be purchased on an as needed basis or a regular delivery can be scheduled to your facility. Most major metropolitan areas have regular delivery trucks that cover 100 mile radiuses. Dry ice can also be shipped using a common carrier and it is delivered in insulated containers.

For manufacturers who need large quantities of dry ice on a regular basis or that work in isolated locations, we suggest considering a dry ice production machine to keep up with high demand.

Learn more about dry ice production equipment

How much does dry ice cost?

Dry ice is a commodity and prices vary geographically.

How do I store dry ice and how long does it last?

Dry ice should be stored in an insulated container, which is provided by your dry ice supplier and picked up by them when needed. The thicker the insulation, the slower it will sublimate. Depending on the climate and thickness of your container, typical dry ice sublimation is approximately 2% to 10% per day.

How much dry ice do I need for a project?

The amount of dry ice needed to clean effectively varies from application to application and also can vary dramatically with each dry ice blasting system.

The average dry ice consumption for dry ice blasting equipment will range from approximately 0.7 lbs (0.32 kg) per minute for a MicroParticle system to 2 1/2 lbs (1.1 kg) per minute for a pellet system.

What type of air pressure (air compressor) do I need for dry ice blasting?

Dry ice blasting systems using pellets typically consume 100 cfm (2.8 m3/min) at 80 psi (5.5 bar), while MicroParticle systems typically consume 30 cfm (0.9 m3/min) at 80 psi (5.5 bar). Low flow nozzles for the MicroParticle systems can consume as little as 12 cfm (0.3 m³/min) at 80 psi (5.5 bar). However, your needs will depend on your application.

Dry Ice Blasting: Purchasing

How much does a dry ice blasting machine cost?

We have a number of different machine options depending on your application, air supply, and budget.

Contact a Cold Jet representative to find out what the best machine will be for you.

Contact us

How long does it take to get my machine?

On average 7-10 days.

Dry Ice Blasting: Safety

Is dry ice blasting environmentally friendly?

Dry ice blasting is an ideal solution for those looking for an environmentally friendly cleaning solution.

  1. Dry ice is made of reclaimed CO2
    All dry ice used in the dry ice blasting process is made from reclaimed CO2, which is a byproduct of other industrial processes. This CO2, which would have otherwise been released into the atmosphere, is captured and given new life as dry ice. Dry ice blasting does not produce more CO2.
  2. Dry ice blasting eliminates harmful secondary waste
    When the dry ice impacts the surface being cleaned, it sublimates – turns directly from a solid to a gas—and thus does not produce secondary waste. Similar techniques leave behind a residue that must be cleaned up with the contaminant. This media can become hazardous and create downstream contamination and harm the surrounding area and installations.
  3. Dry ice blasting is non-toxic and eliminates need for chemical solvents
    The dry ice used in the dry ice blasting process is a food grade media and is EPA, FDA and USDA approved for use around food manufacturing. It is colorless, tasteless, odorless and non-toxic. Dry ice blasting eliminates the need for chemical cleaning solvents in many applications.

Learn more about how dry ice blasting is environmentally friendly

Are there safety precautions with dry ice blasting?

When working with CO2, precaution must always be taken to ensure that the area is sufficiently ventilated and that proper PPE is administered when dealing with the liquid or solid form of CO2 (dry ice).

When operating a dry ice blaster proper protection should be worn, such as ear plugs, eyewear, gloves, and closed-toed shoes. Steel-toed shoes are useful but not necessary.

Read more about proper safety precautions

Dry Ice Blasting: Applications

What is dry ice blasting used for?

Dry ice blasting is an effective solution for many applications, including cleaning, surface preparation and parts finishing, within a broad and diverse range of industries.

View highlighted industries

View highlighted applications

Will dry ice blasting work for my application?

Visit the links below for a list of industries and applications in which our equipment has been used. If you have a more specific question about your unique application, we’d be happy to get in touch with you to discuss.

View highlighted industries

View highlighted applications

Contact us

Can dry ice blasting remove paint?

While dry ice blasting is effective at removing failing paint and paint that has a weak bond, dry ice is a gentle medium and in some applications it is not always successful with just dry ice alone. There are many variables that determine whether dry ice blasting can be successful or not, such as how well the paint is adhered and the type of paint and primer. Even high pressure dry ice blasting can be too slow, too gentle, or ineffective depending on the application.

Will dry ice blasting remove rust?

Dry ice blasting alone will remove any loosely adhered rust, surface rust, oxidation, and salts (SP 6), but it will not remove the deeply adhered or pitted oxidation. Due to the non-abrasive characteristics of dry ice, it is not aggressive enough to create a profile or a white metal finish.

Can dry ice blasting kill mold?

Dry ice blasting removes 99.9% of mold spores faster than traditional cleaning methods when IAQA standards are followed. The process eliminates timely manual cleaning and does not create secondary waste, which reduces mold remediation time and reduces total labor costs and project time. The dry ice blasting process does not utilize chemicals and has the ability to deodorize affected areas.

Read more about mold remediation with dry ice blasting

Does dry ice blasting leave a residue?

Dry ice blasting does not leave residue or waste. Dry ice sublimates upon impact with the surface being cleaned, which results in no secondary waste, no residue and no introduction of moisture. This eliminates extra cleanup, disposal of secondary waste streams and additional cleaning preparation, such as masking delicate sensors or wrapping electronic components before cleaning. This significantly reduces the duration of cleaning projects and the resulting shutdowns.

Elimination of secondary waste also allows equipment to be cleaned while online and still operating.

Can I automate the dry ice blasting process?

Integrated dry ice blasting systems combine dry ice production and one or more blasting system into one unit; allowing for continuous, completely automated blasting.

From simple customization to full automation, each integrated system can be engineered to meet specific customer requirements.

These systems are commonly used to provide cost effective cleaning and surface preparation solutions and are used extensively in the automotive OEM, tire, aerospace, semiconductor and many other industries.

Learn more about integrated or automated dry ice blasting

Dry Ice Blasting: Support

What type of customer service will I receive?

Our service team is available 24/7, 365 days a year and is dedicated to providing support and advice on all aspects of Cold Jet machines. From answering technical questions to offering guidance on the right part or accessory, our team is here for you. Cold Jet has 13 service centers located in 10 countries around the world and the largest install base of human technical resources.

Learn more about Cold Jet customer service

Where can I buy parts and accessories?

You can purchase spare parts and accessories from Cold Jet.

Learn more about our parts and accessories

How do I receive training?

We offer a range of training services that can be performed at your facility or at one of our global service centers. Our team will instruct employees on how to operate your machine more efficiently and discover how to take full advantage of all the technologies available to them.

Learn more about training

Will I receive help when installing my machine?

Our dry ice blasting units are simple to setup and use, but for more complex installations we are there to help. Our team is available to help to help in the installation of your dry ice production unit.

Learn more about installation

Dry Ice Production: Basics

How is dry ice made?

Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide (CO2). In order to create dry ice, CO2 gas is pressurized and cooled to form liquid CO2 (LCO2) and is then injected into a pelletizer, or dry ice production unit. Within the pelletizer, the pressurized LCO2 is released to atmospheric pressure, which causes it to solidify into a snow-like consistency. This is then compressed into pellets, blocks, or slabs.

Can I make my own dry ice?

Dry ice can be produced on demand using a dry ice production machine (pelletizer or slice maker). Producing your own dry ice must be economically viable and the amount of dry ice used on a daily and weekly basis must be considered.

Pelletizers, slice makers, and reformers can be equipped with multiple dies to produce a range of extrusion sizes (3 mm to 19 mm) and final product size. Dry ice production equipment can produce, dose, and package multiple sizes of dry ice for a broad range of solutions.

Learn more about our dry ice production equipment

Should I make my own dry ice?

In the right situation, making your own dry ice can save you a lot of time and money while eliminating headaches. Producing your own dry ice can give you greater control over your production, processing, and cold chain management systems, while also reducing waste and cutting operational costs.

By answering a few simple questions, you can determine whether producing your own dry ice is right for you. Those questions include:

  1. How much dry ice do you consume weekly/monthly?
  2. What are your current delivery costs?
  3. Is dry ice a part of a critical path in your operation?
  4. Do you waste a lot of dry ice per week?
  5. Does your facility have a CO2 tank and three-phase power?

Learn more about whether you should produce your own dry ice

Contact us to discuss whether you should make your own dry ice

Dry Ice Production: Getting Started

What types of infrastructure do I need for a dry ice production machine?

You need a liquid CO2 tank, three phase power, exhaust capability, supply and support lines, and adequate floor space for both the dry ice production machine and dry ice storage.

If you do not have a liquid CO2 supply already in place, Cold Jet can perform a site visit to help determine what you would need to do and what your investment and payback would be. Cold Jet can then arrange for the installation and leasing, if required, to be completed through our trusted affiliates.

Contact us to discuss your dry ice production options

How much LCO2 do I need to produce a pound of dry ice?

Cold Jet’s conversion rate is as low as 2.2 to 1 of LCO2 to solid dry ice. Most of our competitors remain at a 2.7 conversation ratio or above.

Dry Ice Production: Storage

How do I store dry ice and how long does it last?

Dry ice should be stored in an insulated container. The thicker the insulation, the slower it will sublimate. Depending on the climate and thickness of your container, typical dry ice sublimation is approximately 2% to 10% per day.

Dry Ice Production: Purchasing

How much does a dry ice production machine cost?

We have a number of different machine options depending on your production needs.

Contact a Cold Jet representative to find out what the best machine will be for you.

Contact us

Dry Ice Production: Safety

Are there safety precautions with dry ice production?

When working with CO2, precaution must always be taken to ensure that the area is sufficiently ventilated and that proper PPE is administered when dealing with the liquid or solid form of CO2 (dry ice).

Read more about proper safety precautions

Dry Ice Production: Support

What type of customer service will I receive?

Our service team is available 24/7, 365 days a year and is dedicated to providing support and advice on all aspects of Cold Jet machines. From answering technical questions to offering guidance on the right part or accessory, our team is here for you. Cold Jet has 13 service centers located in 10 countries around the world and the largest install base of human technical resources.

Learn more about Cold Jet customer service

Where can I buy parts and accessories?

You can purchase spare parts and accessories from Cold Jet.

Learn more about our parts and accessories

How do I receive training?

We offer a range of training services that can be performed at your facility or at one of our global service centers. Our team will instruct employees on how to operate your machine more efficiently and discover how to take full advantage of all the technologies available to them.

Learn more about training

Will I receive help when installing my machine?

Our dry ice blasting units are simple to setup and use, but for more complex installations we are there to help. Our team is available to help to help in the installation of your dry ice production unit.

Learn more about installation