Although dry ice is a reasonably safe product, because it reaches such extreme temperatures, it’s important to follow stringent handling, storage and shipping safety precautions.
Handling, storage & transportation
Before handling and using dry ice products, it is important that users are aware of the properties and potential hazards. This way you can take suitable precautions and set up procedures to guard against potential incidents and take swift action in the event of an emergency.
- Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide (chemical formula CO²).
- Dry ice appears as a translucent white solid which at normal temperatures sublimes from the solid state directly into a gas without passing through a liquid phase.
- Dry ice is a non flammable asphyxiant (see below).
- Dry ice emits a colourless gas with a slightly pungent odour which is only detectable in high concentrations.
- Asphyxiant – in high concentrations sublimed vapour may cause asphyxiation. 10kg of dry ice sublimes into approximately 5.4m³ of carbon dioxide gas.
- Extreme cold – the temperature of dry ice is -78° C; contact with product can cause cold burns or frostbite.
Important safety information
- Risk assessment: Know and understand the properties of dry ice. Before using dry ice in any area, establish the risks involved. Be sure to take into account the potential for the creation of atmospheres with a high concentration of carbon dioxide near the ground.
- Handling: DO NOT handle dry ice with bare hands. It can cause severe cold burns and frostbite. Only experienced and properly instructed people should handle dry ice.
Never play games with dry ice – and keep children and pets away.
Always wear eye protection and heavy insulated gloves suitable for the extreme cold temperature (-78° C) of dry ice.
Take care when carrying packages of dry ice.
- Ventilation: Always seek professional advice on suitable ventilation and install carbon dioxide monitors to warn of problems.
- Water on CO² increases sublimation which can result in a corresponding higher risk of asphyxiation.
Dispose of dry ice in a well ventilated area away from the public. Do not discharge into any place where its accumulation could be dangerous.
- Labelling: DO NOT remove or deface any product labels.
- Emergency procedures: Know what action to take in case of emergency – and ensure all handlers are aware of this.
In certain conditions dry ice sublimes from its current state into carbon dioxide which carries a danger of asphyxiation.
These conditions can include changes in the ambient temperature and humidity, the quality of the storage container, even the number of times the container is opened and closed.
The better the insulation, the slower the sublimation rate and the longer the quality of the dry ice product will be maintained.
- ALWAYS store dry ice in a properly designed container.
- ALWAYS keep the container lid closed when not in use.
- ALWAYS secure the container lid open before reaching in to unload the product. Avoid leaning into the container for longer than necessary.
- DO NOT store dry ice in any gas tight container. Within large containers, gas atmospheres will have built up.
- DO NOT expose dry ice to high ambient temperatures unnecessarily as this increases the sublimation rate.
- DO NOT store in cellars or unventilated rooms.
- ALWAYS Ensure adequate low level ventilation wherever dry ice is stored.
- AVOID transporting dry ice in the cab of a truck or the passenger compartment of a car. If this is not possible the load should be well insulated and adequate ventilation maintained.
- IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, transport dry ice in vehicles where the driver’s cab is isolated from the load compartment.
- ALWAYS ensure there is adequate ventilation – during transportation and before entering the load compartment.
- ALWAYS unload the product as soon as possible at the end of the journey and move it to a suitable storage location.