How to Store Dry Ice

Dry ice is amazing stuff and it looks incredible at parties, on theater sets, and at pretty much any event. As EmergencyIce mentions, it’s made of carbon dioxide that has been solidified by very low temperatures.

That means it will never melt but instead turns into a gas that looks amazing – but must only be used in a well-ventilated space. This is because you’re essentially adding a lot of CO2 to the room at once.

If you have purchased dry ice for a party, you may be wondering how to store it to ensure it doesn’t start activating and turning into a mist before you’re ready to use it.

First, it’s worth noting that dry ice doesn’t become a mist until it comes into contact with liquid, but it is pretty impossible to keep it inactive; it is always leaching carbon dioxide, and a block won’t last for more than a day whatever you do.

Dry ice is very tricky to store and it’s often best to buy it as close to your event as possible, but we’re still going to look at the best ways to keep it inert as possible so that it hasn’t all turned into a gas and dispersed before the party has begun!

How to Store Dry Ice

How To Store Dry Ice Properly

When you’re going to purchase dry ice, you will need an insulated but not airtight container to transport it in, such as the Coleman Ice Chest. You should take thick gloves in case you need to handle the dry ice. Filling the cooler with wadded paper around the dry ice can also help to reduce the rate of sublimation (similar to evaporation).

Coleman 316 Cooler 62QT WHL 5859 RCK/W/RCK SIOC
  • FULLY INSULATED: Lid and body Keeps the Ice up to 5 days in temperatures as high as 90°F; logo color on cooler may vary
  • FOR THE LONG HAUL: Heavy-duty 6-inch wheels and durable tow & swing-up handles designed for easy transport
  • CUP HOLDERS WITH DRAIN: Molded into the lid to keep drinks from spilling; fit up to a 30-oz. tumbler

While dry ice is not “ice” in the sense that water is when frozen (and it has no liquid form), it needs to be kept as cool as possible at all times. You should never handle it with bare skin, either; it will give you bad burns because it is kept at such low temperatures.

You should not travel long distances with dry ice in the car; the carbon dioxide that will be leaking from your cooler could suffocate you. Make sure you have the windows open, and keep the travel time to a minimum by purchasing it from the nearest store you can.

Once you’ve got it home or the dry ice has been delivered to your house (if you choose a delivery company instead), how do you store it?

In the home, you need to prioritize finding a ventilated room. No matter how airtight your cooler is, some carbon dioxide is bound to escape, so it’s very important to put the ice somewhere with good ventilation. If you don’t, you may find that the place fills up with carbon dioxide surprisingly quickly, which could be dangerous.

You should keep the ice in the cooler that you purchased it in, and try to keep the surroundings as cool as possible. Do not take the dry ice out of the cooler and put it in your fridge or freezer, however. Dry ice should never be stored in a sealed container, because as the gas escapes, it needs somewhere to go.

If the container comes under too much pressure, it might explode, so it is safer to let some gas escape than to try and trap it all. It is also much too cold to be stored in your freezer, and could damage the freezer.

How Long Can Dry Ice Be Stored For?

This depends a little on how much dry ice you have purchased. You won’t need more than a few pounds for a home party, so unless you’re buying dry ice for a commercial setting, a single block is often enough (unless the blocks are small, in which case you might want two in some circumstances).

Five pounds of dry ice will have completely sublimated within twenty-four hours, so you need to be buying it on the day that you intend to use it. You can’t do much to prevent this; the cooler and paper will help, but without professional containers, there’s nothing at home that will keep the dry ice cold enough to stop the sublimation.

While it may not be very convenient, you usually need to collect the dry ice on the day of your party. Alternatively, you can have it delivered to you by specialist delivery firms.

How to Store Dry Ice

How To Tell If The Dry Ice Is No Good

Dry ice will simply have disappeared once it is no good; it is constantly turning back into carbon dioxide, so there won’t be anything left to see!

How To Dispose Of Dry Ice

If you have leftover dry ice, the safest thing to do with it is to let it sublimate in an open space. You can leave the cooler outside with the lid half-off, but make sure it’s not anywhere that will attract curious birds, animals, or other people who might touch it.

You shouldn’t try to dispose of dry ice by putting it in the trash can, down the toilet, or down the sink. The extreme temperatures could damage any of these quite badly. Simply leave it outdoors and let it disperse in its own time. In a warm environment, it should be gone relatively quickly.

Check there are no small pieces leftover before emptying the paper from the container, and wear gloves as a precaution. The burns from dry ice can be very serious.

Avoid These Dry Ice Storage Mistakes

  • Putting dry ice in the fridge or freezer.
  • Touching dry ice with your bare hands.
  • Buying dry ice in advance.
  • Storing dry ice in any sealed environment.
  • Leaving dry ice in any environment where another person or animal might touch it.
  • Leaving dry ice in an unventilated space, e.g. a parked car, a room with no windows.
  • Using dry ice in an unventilated space.

Store Dry Ice Longer

Dry ice is fantastic for parties and dramatic effect, but it is not something you can store at home for any significant period of time. A few hours is usually the most flexibility you have, so buy dry ice at the last possible minute to minimize how much you lose to sublimation.