Frozen carbon dioxide, or more popularly known as dry ice, can be used in a variety of applications. From keeping food fresh to adding Halloween effects, dry ice can do better than normal ice. With dry ice being a great alternative to the regular one, you may be wondering, how much does dry ice cost?
Average Cost of Dry Ice
The cost of dry ice can be determined mainly through a couple of ways: based on its weight and based on container size or volume.
If based on weight, the average price of dry ice is usually between $1 and $3 per pound, but can be as low as $0.50 per pound depending on the retailer and the volume being purchased. It can also be as expensive as $6 per pound, depending on its form. You can also buy 2 to 4 lbs. of food-grade dry ice for $2 to $4 per gallon.
Dry ice needs an insulated container since it can sublimate rapidly when exposed to open air for a long time. To prevent this, you can buy a dry ice container or foam chest for $20 to $25.
It’s better to use cheap foam boxes instead of expensive airtight containers. Airtight boxes tend to explode because the vapor from dry ice can expand quickly. Remember that dry ice never melts in water—it changes directly from solid to gas!
If you don’t have a container, you can also buy one directly from your supplier. Most vendors sell insulated boxes when you buy at least 5 pounds of dry ice.
Generally, you can save more money when you buy larger containers:
- small box (1,000 cubic in. at 10 x 10 x 10) – $20
- medium box (1,728 cubic in. at 12 x 12 x 12) – $22
- large box (2,744 cubic in. at 14 x 14 x 14) – $24
For the more durable types, you can buy a Yeti Tundra cooler for $250 to $400, depending on capacity.
As a safety precaution, make sure that you have access to fresh air whenever you handle a container of dry ice. As the vapor escapes the container, it tends to displace oxygen from the ambient air. This can cause breathing difficulties if you are in a closed vehicle or room.
Dry ice, when handled properly, is definitely the better choice for freezing compared to traditional blocks or cubes of ice. After all, the temperature of normal ice is only 32°F, which is good only for keeping things cool.
On the other hand, dry ice has a temperature of -109.3°F, making it more effective in freezing things and keeping them frozen. Since dry ice is extremely cold, touching it or having direct contact with skin is not advisable.
With this, you will need gloves or tongs when handling it or you will get ice burns. You can get tongs for under $5 to around $10 and ice gloves for around $15.
Factors Affecting Cost of Dry Ice
There are a lot of things that can play a role in the actual cost of dry ice. The following are some of those:
Most retailers offer discounts when you purchase at least 100 lbs. of dry ice. For example, when you buy 100 to 249 lbs. of dry ice, the cost per pound decreases to $0.60 per pound. If you purchase 250 lbs. or more, dry ice will only cost $0.50 a pound.
For example, at Dry Ice Delivered in Baton Rouge, LA, the prices are as follows:
- 10 to 24 lbs. – $1.00 per lb.
- 25 to 49 lbs. – $0.80 per lb.
- 50 to 99 lbs. – $0.70 per lb.
- 100 to 249 lbs. – $0.60 per lb.
- 250 lbs. and up – $0.50 per lb.
Dry ice can either be sold in small blocks or pellets contained in plastic packaging. If you need larger amounts of dry ice, you may need to contact a supplier directly.
You can pick them up or you can have them delivered. However, there is a minimum 10-pound requirement for dry ice deliveries.
Here are some examples of dry ice prices with their corresponding weights:
- 5 lbs. (1/4) block – $12
- 25 lbs. (1/2) block – $18
- 50 lbs. block – $35
At Ben’s Dry Ice Co. in San Francisco, the price of dry ice blocks are as follows:
- 10 lbs. – $6 per pound
- 20 lbs. – $4 per pound
- 30 lbs. – $3 per pound
- 40 lbs. – $2.38 per pound
- 50 to 90 lbs. – $2 per pound
- 100 to 140 lbs. – $1.50 per pound
- 150+ lbs. – $1.25 per pound
On the other hand, its pelleted dry ice costs are the following:
- 50 lbs. – $2 per pound
- 100 lbs. – $1.50 per pound
- 150+ lbs. – $1.25 per pound
3. Other Uses
Dry ice is not just for shipping frozen goods. When used properly, it can also be used in a number of other different ways that are not food-related. However, there are also food-grade variants of dry ice that can be mixed with beverages.
For example, it can be used to create fog and mist for parties and several occasions. In fact, many types of smoke and fog machines use dry ice.
Mixing dry ice with warm water can set the mood for any Halloween party. It can also serve as a practical effect for studio pictorials and shootings.
More fog will be released quickly if dry ice is mixed with hot water. However, adding water to dry ice will consume the dry ice more quickly.
There is also a lot of dry ice for sale that can be used in a variety of ways. Here’s a list of alternative uses for dry ice and their estimated costs:
- 3 to 5 lbs. for fog effect up to 30 minutes – $3 to $15
- 50 to 100 lbs. for fog on heated Jacuzzi – $70 per hour
- 50 lbs. for an unheated swimming pool – $17.50 per hour
- 15 to 30 lbs. for fog in a small room – $20 per hour
- 50 lbs. for fog in a large function room – $35 per hour
4. Quantity of Frozen Goods and Transport Time
The cost also depends on the quantity of frozen goods and transport time. A chunk of dry ice can sublimate in an insulated box at a rate of 1% per hour. That would mean losing roughly 10% of its volume, or approximately 5 to 10 pounds completely disappearing in 24 hours.
Here’s a simple guide to how much dry ice you would need to spend on and the quantity required per weight of frozen goods:
- 3 lbs. of dry ice per 5 lbs. frozen goods – $5
- 5 lbs. of dry ice per 10 lbs. frozen goods – $7
- 8 lbs. of dry ice per 15 lbs. frozen goods – $8.50
- 10 lbs. of dry ice per 20 lbs. frozen goods – $11
As a general rule, start with 3 lbs. of dry ice for an initial 5 lbs. load. Just add 2 lbs. of dry ice for every 5 lbs. of frozen goods.
It is crucial to note that these quantities are intended for storage times of up to 12 hours only. The quantity of dry ice should be doubled if the storage time increases to 24 and 36 hours. Additionally, the initial amount of dry ice should be tripled if storage times are expected to reach 72 hours.