Can You Use Dry Ice For Camping? (Answered)

Can You Use Dry Ice for Camping

Do you have a basket full of perishables to pack for camping but don’t know how to preserve them so they don’t go bad?

Do you need to get some dry ice but don’t know how to pack them in a cooler for your camping?

Well, there’s so much you’ll need to know about dry ice. Don’t worry; I’ll tell you everything right here. 

Yes, dry ice is perfect for camping. It lasts longer than regular ice and is suitable for storing treats and drinks. As such, you should definitely use dry ice when camping, especially in the summer. Dry ice will serve as a freezer for all your edibles. Moreover, it won’t melt and mess up your cooler and snacks. 

In this article, you’ll learn all about dry ice and why it should be your first choice when camping.

Can I Use Dry Ice When Camping?

Can You Use Dry Ice for Camping

You can use dry ice for camping. It’s a lifesaver for preserving perishables and keeping drinks cool.

As such, dry ice is one of the important things you wouldn’t want to leave behind when packing your camping essentials.

Though taking dry ice for camping is generally advisable, it’s necessary for you also to know what to expect.

So, the table shows some pros and cons of using dry ice for camping.

Dry ice doesn’t melt easily.Dry ice can cause frostbite.
It helps to preserve perishable foods.Dry ice can cause cooler explosions.
You can use dry ice to preserve your fish if you go fishing.Dry ice can lead to carbon dioxide poisoning.
Dry ice would not wet your stuff because it sublimes into gas rather than liquid.

Therefore, with all that information in mind, knowing how much dry ice you’ll need when camping is important.

Furthermore, there are tips you must put in place when taking dry ice for camping to help avoid the cons accompanying dry ice usage.

They include:

  • Use a pair of hand gloves while handling dry ice to avoid frostbite.
  • Keep off the reach of children.
  • Use coolers that are dry-ice-friendly to avoid cooler explosions.
  • Take a space cooler for regular ice to serve as the refrigerator, while the cooler for the dry ice will serve as the freezer.

How Long Does Dry Ice Last for Camping?

Generally, dry ice for camping can last 18-24 hours. However, factors like the storage method, cooler size, dry ice brick size, and the outside temperature can influence the duration.

To help you understand the situation better, I’ll explain the influence of each factor below.

#1. Storage Method

The storage method you use for your dry ice determines how long it will last. 

For example, keeping dry ice in an enclosed space will enable it last longer. Contrarily, keeping it in the open will affect its efficiency and durability.

Also, the type of cooler you use to pack your dry ice matters a lot. A high-quality insulating cooler will keep your dry ice longer than a regular cooler.

#2. Cooler Size

How big or how small should the cooler be? That’s a common question you’ll find yourself asking.

Well, know that what determines the size of your cooler is how long you’ll be camping and the amount of food you’ll be preserving.

If you’ll be camping for many days, it’s ideal to take a larger cooler than when camping for just a day.

#3. Size of Dry Ice

The size of the dry ice you use determines how long the ice will last during camping. For instance, a large block of ice would last longer than pellets of dry ice. 

Also, while five-pound dry ice lasts up to 24 hours, 15 pounds of dry ice lasts up to three days if kept in the right condition.

#4. Outside Temperature

The temperature outside is another determinant of camping dry ice lifespan. If the outside temperature is low, your ice will stay longer than when it’s hot outside.

That’s because, when it’s sunny, the heat will cause the ice in the cooler to melt faster than when it is cold.

How Do You Pack a Cooler with Dry Ice for Camping? 

Packing a cooler with dry ice for camping is easy. You only need to arrange the dry ice in layers separate from your food.

Here are steps to rightly packing your dry ice for camping.

#1. Choose a Cooler With a Ventilation Opening

Using a cooler without a ventilation opening poses a great risk for cooler explosions. So, to avoid that, ensure the cooler you’ll be using has a ventilation suit.

The ventilation suit can be a cap at the bottom of the cooler, or the lid doesn’t close completely.

#2. Protect the Cooler Interior With Cardboard or Styrofoam

Protecting the cooler with cardboard or Styrofoam is necessary. You don’t need to line the walls of the cooler if you’re sure the dry ice won’t make contact with it.

#3. Get Your Blocks of Ice

What you need the ice for should determine the weight and number of blocks of ice you get.

If you’re going to camp for days to weeks, you’ll need bigger blocks of ice and bigger sizes of coolers.

#4. Set the Ice in the Cooler

Arranging the dry ice in the cooler is a critical step that needs great attention. 

It’s necessary to ensure you’re wearing a shirt with long sleeves. Shirts with long sleeves protect your hands from accidental cold burns as you gently stack the ice blocks.

You mustn’t handle the dry ice without gloves to avoid frostbite.

#5. Now Arrange Your Food

After arranging the dry ice in the cooler, place the food on it. Your next step depends on whether or not you want frozen food.

If you need the food to freeze, get other wraps of dry ice ready and lay them on the food layer. Otherwise, you’re done packing.

Is Dry Ice Better than Regular Ice for Camping?     

Dry ice is far better for camping than regular ice when you want to freeze food. However, some individuals may have different opinions due to their personal opinion and concerns.

Dry ice has its pros and cons, just like regular ice. So, the choice of ice for your camping depends on your need and preference.

To help you decide, I’ll give you a quick rundown of the pros and cons of each type of ice.

#1. Dry Ice

I’ll pick dry ice over regular ice any day and anytime. But since you need to decide, here are dry ice’s pros and cons.

#1. Pros

  • Dry ice is much colder than regular ice; that means your food will freeze faster at a higher rate than regular ice. While dry ice’s temperature is -109°F, regular ice reads 0°F.
  • Since dry ice sublimates into gas directly, your stuff won’t get damp.
  • Dry ice allows mixing with regular ice for a colder cooler.

#2. Cons

  • Dry ice freezes everything, so you must be careful with what goes into the cooler.
  • Handling dry ice with bare hands can cause frostbite. Regular ice doesn’t cause frostbite that easily, except if you touch it for longer periods.
  • Dry ice is more expensive than regular ice. 

#2. Regular Ice

Below are the pros and cons of regular ice.

#1. Pros

  • Regular ice is more readily available than dry ice. You can make regular ice yourself at home by freezing water.
  • Regular ice is cheaper to buy than dry ice. 

#2. Cons

  • Regular ice doesn’t freeze food like dry ice.
  • Regular ice has a lower lifespan than dry ice.
  • Regular ice changes to liquid, which means it will get everything it makes contact with wet.

How Much Dry Ice Do I Need for 3 Days of Camping?    

You’ll need about 15-30 pounds of dry ice for three days of camping. That’s because 5-10 pounds of ice can last a day if stored properly.

But if you fail to store your ice properly, even 30 ponds may not last three days. So, it’s important to learn the correct method of storing dry ice.

So, below are tips that will help you pack your dry ice to last three days while camping.

  • Use a high-quality insulator cooler to keep the dry ice longer. If you don’t have an insulating cooler, you can line your cooler with aluminum foil to trap the cold.
  • Ensure there’s no water inside the cooler; this will reduce the time it takes the dry ice to melt.
  • Avoid opening the cooler unnecessarily to reduce warm air entry. Warm air will cause the dry ice to melt faster.
  • Add an insulating layer over the dry ice to increase its lifespan.
  • If you open the cooler and it looks like your dry ice is beginning to melt, you can add more dry ice to make it last longer.
  • Purchase the dry ice close to its use date; that will help you make the most of it.
Josh Matthews

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