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Dry Ice: A Guide For Camping And RVing

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Let’s face it: we’re all a little stir crazy after three months of Zooming with relatives and staring at four walls. But how do we get out of the house in a safe way this summer?

Your best bet might be an RV or camping trip, according to some experts. If you’re ready to hit the road, be sure to pack your favorite food so it lasts. The best way to do that?

Use dry ice.

Dry ice makes it possible for you to transport frozen or perishable food in a sturdy, quality cooler, helping you to avoid the leaks, mess, and constant need for replenishment that comes with using regular ice (when dry ice melts, it simply turns to gas – no puddling involved!).

Dry ice tips for your summer RV or camping trip

  • Always follow safe handling instructions for dry ice!
  • Pre-chill your cooler. The night before you leave for your trip, put a sealed bag of regular ice in your cooler to chill things down before you pack it.
  • Have enough on-hand. Plan on using 10 to 20 pounds of dry ice for every 24-hour period, depending upon the size of the ice chest. Dry Ice normally comes in 10-inch squares that weigh about 10 pounds each; plan to put one square per each 15 inches of ice chest length (that’s approximately two squares, weighing 20 pounds, for an average 40-quart cooler). For larger containers and longer travel times, multiply dry ice quantities by these rates.
  • Pack frozen items first. Remember: Cold air SINKS, so put frozen meats and vegetables in the cooler first. These frozen items will take some extra time to thaw because they have been so cold, so plan accordingly.
  • Pack essential items last. Keep milk, cheese, condiments, and any other foods you will need on top of the dry ice, where the air will be (slightly) warmer.
  • Fill in the gaps. A full cooler will stay colder than a cooler with air pockets; one easy way to fill the voids is to place bottles of frozen water in between your food items. You can also use wadded newspaper.
  • Choose your cooler wisely. The best storage container is a three-inch thick urethane insulated box.
  • Insulate. Lining the inside of your ice chest with sheets of Styrofoam will increase the life of dry ice. Sublimation will vary depending on the temperature, air pressure and thickness of insulation; the more dry ice you have stored in the container, the longer it will last.
  • Transport your dry ice safely. If transporting your dry ice by car or RV, try to insulate the ice chest with sleeping bags; this will make the dry ice last longer. If the dry ice is inside the car (not in the trunk) for more than 10 minutes, keep windows slightly open to avoid overexposure to CO2 (signs include rapid breathing, headache, and blue fingernails or lips). Open windows immediately if you or anyone in the car experiences these symptoms.

Need dry ice for your next RV or camping adventure? We have it! Visit one of our convenient locations to pick up yours today.

The Irish Family of Companies