You can preserve your perishables during transportation in a variety of ways, but the two most prevalent are dry ice and gel packs. However, determining which coolant is appropriate for your shipping needs might be tricky. In this post, we compare the benefits and drawbacks of gel and dry ice packs to help you choose the right solution for your needs.
What Are Gel Packs?
Credit: Insulated Products Corp
A portable plastic bag filled with water, refrigerant gel, or liquid used to provide cooling is called a gel pack.
There are two types of gel packs. The reusable kind, which acts as a thermal mass and requires freezing, and the immediate type, which cools itself down using chemicals but can only be used once.
The instant type is typically used as a cold compress to relieve the pain of minor injuries, whilst the reusable type is used as a cold compress as well as to keep food cool in portable coolers or in insulated shipping containers to keep products cool during travel.
Benefits of Gel Packs
1) Good for Products That Do Not Require To Be Frozen
Cold packs are the best dry ice substitute for perishable products that do not require to be frozen. The melting point of gel packs is around 32 degrees Fahrenheit. They do not reach the severe cold temperatures of dry ice, so they will not cause temperature damage to objects that do not require freezing. Depending on the product's weight and beginning temperature, gel packs will normally keep the product's temperature between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius.
2) Gel Packs Are Good for Quick Deliveries
Gel packs are ideal for products that do not need to travel vast distances. They're best for products that need to be delivered within a couple of hours. Fresh produce, cheese, and other dairy items, baked goods, chocolate, and bread are all examples.
Drawbacks of Gel Packs
1) Lasts Only for a Couple of Hours
Gel packs are not recommended for long journeys. When used in conjunction with ice and an insulated container, gel packs remain frozen for a maximum of 6 hours whereas dry ice packs last for a much longer time. As a result, they should only be used for short trips. While cold packs are great for products that do not require too much refrigeration, they're not suitable for products that require to stay frozen solid.
2) Melts Faster
When shipping meat and fish items, melting and condensation can be a major problem. When something starts to melt, the surrounding water vapor transforms into its liquid form, which is known as condensation. Water can speed up the breakdown process and cause a plethora of problems, including mold and fungus growth on the products. Water-based freezing is used in gel packs, which greatly increases the danger of water contamination due to condensation.
What Are Dry Ice Packs?
Credit: Nice Packs
Dry ice is made by putting CO2 gas under pressure. The outcome is a frozen solid with a temperature of -78.5 C or -109.3 F. The product comes in a variety of sizes, including blocks, pellets, and snow. They are also available as ice packs.
Benefits of Dry Ice Packs
1) They Don’t Become Wet When They Melt
One of the biggest issues with gel ice packs is that when they melt, they fill your cooler with water, which sloshes around, spills everywhere, and makes your food soggy. There is no water to deal with dry ice packs, so your food is less likely to go soggy and water is less likely to leak out of your insulated container.
2) Ideal for Long Journeys
Dry ice can lower the temperature of a product, allowing it to stay frozen for longer. Dry ice is frequently used for shipping ice cream products and sorbet, as well as frozen meats, frozen food, and seafood. Dry ice will keep your food products frozen solid until it reaches their final destination. It is ideal if you need to send something across the country or on a long voyage.
Drawbacks of Dry Ice Packs
1) Not Suitable for Temperature Sensitive Products
Because of the low temperature of dry ice, it should never be packed with products that are vulnerable to freezing. Live fish, flowers, and fresh food are examples of this. It's also vital to remember that any food items shipped with dry ice must be fully covered to avoid the texture and flavor of the product being altered by the dry ice.
2) It Has The Potential To Be Dangerous
Since dry ice is so cold, holding it for more than a second can severely burn your skin and possibly induce frostbite if you're not careful. Always use gloves or cover your hands with a cloth when touching it.
So, who won the dry ice vs gel packs debate? Which one do you think you should go with? Is it better to use dry ice or gel packs? It all depends on the goods you're shipping. If you're shipping frozen products that require temperature control and extremely cold temperatures, dry ice packs are suitable. Consider using a gel ice pack if you're sending products that don't need to be frozen but still need to keep the food cold. Gel ice packs will keep your products at the desired temperature range.
While both gel packs and dry ice may keep your products cool, they do so at different temperatures and for different durations. So, before you can decide between gel packs and dry ice, consider what you're transporting.