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How to Ship Ice Cream Without Dry Ice


Shipping perishable frozen food items like ice cream can be a challenging task, as maintaining low temperatures during transport is crucial. While many assume that dry ice is the only viable option, there are alternative methods available that can effectively preserve the integrity of ice cream.

In this in-depth guide, we will explore various alternatives to shipping ice cream without relying on dry ice. Let's get started.

Why Should You Consider Alternatives to Shipping With Dry Ice?


dry ice in bowl
Credit: Envato Elements/ Wavebreakmedia

When it comes to shipping ice cream, it's important to consider alternatives to using dry ice. While dry ice can be effective in maintaining low temperatures, it poses several challenges and risks that make it less than ideal for shipping perishable goods. Let's explore some of the reasons why you should opt for alternative methods:

1) Regulatory Compliance

Shipping ice cream locally or internationally with dry ice involves navigating various regulations and guidelines due to its classification as a hazardous material. These regulations vary by country and can be complex to understand and comply with. By choosing alternative methods, you can simplify the shipping process and reduce the risk of non-compliance.

2) Safety Concerns

Dry ice is extremely cold, reaching temperatures of -78.5°C (-109.3°F). Direct contact without proper safety precautions can result in severe burns or frostbite. By opting for alternative shipping methods, you can mitigate the potential risks associated with handling dry ice.

3) Pressure Buildup

Dry ice sublimates, meaning it transitions directly from a solid to a gas without melting. As it sublimates, it releases carbon dioxide gas. If not properly ventilated, the buildup of carbon dioxide gas within a sealed package can cause pressure to accumulate. This pressure can potentially lead to package rupture or explosion. Avoiding dry ice eliminates the need to manage pressure buildup and ensures a safer shipping experience.

4) Cost Considerations

Dry ice can be expensive, adding to the overall shipping costs. Since it evaporates during transit, it needs to be replenished regularly to maintain the desired temperature. By exploring alternative methods, you can potentially reduce shipping expenses while still ensuring the quality and freshness of the ice cream.

Suitable Ice Cream Products for Shipping


ice cream popsicles with fruits
Credit: Envato Elements/ YMikhaylova


When it comes to sending ice cream across borders, there are various types of products that can be successfully transported while maintaining their quality and consistency. Here are some suitable options:


1) Ice Cream Tubs


These are the most common ice cream products to ship. Their sealed containers help maintain structure during transit, and the tubs themselves provide an additional layer of insulation.


2) Ice Cream Novelties


This category includes products such as ice cream bars, cones, and sandwiches. Each item is packaged separately, which not only aids in temperature control but also protects the product's integrity during shipping.


3) Specialty Ice Cream Products


This category includes gelato and sorbet. They are known for their unique texture and composition. Though these products may require lower shipping temperatures and shorter transit times compared to regular ice cream, with the correct packaging, they can arrive at their destination in perfect condition.


4) Ice Cream Cake and Pies


Despite their complexity, ice cream cakes and pies can be shipped successfully. These desserts often include layers or toppings that need careful handling, but with the right packaging strategy and expedited shipping, they can reach their destination intact and ready to be enjoyed.


How to Mail Ice Cream Without Dry Ice


ice cream in a tub
Credit: Envato Elements/ Vell

Below is a step-by-step process on how to ship ice cream locally as well as internationally without dry ice:

Step 1: Choose Insulated Shipping Containers

The first step in this process requires careful selection of the container for your ice cream shipment. Due to the need to maintain a consistently low temperature, insulated shipping containers are a critical component of the shipping process. These specialized containers act as a barrier to heat transfer, helping to sustain the low temperatures necessary for shipping ice cream.

Insulated foam shipping boxes are a common choice for this task. Available in a range of sizes, these containers are an accessible and affordable option. Another good alternative is insulated thick plastic liner bags. These liners can be fitted inside standard shipping boxes, providing an added layer of insulation.

Regardless of the type of insulated container you choose, be sure to select a size that allows for minimal empty space, while leaving enough room for the ice cream and the necessary refrigerant.

Step 2: Select Appropriate Gel Packs and Dry Ice Packs

When it comes to keeping ice cream cold during shipping, dry ice is not the only option available. Gel packs offer a safe and convenient alternative. These packs come in various sizes and can be easily frozen to low temperatures. When selecting gel packs for shipping ice cream, opt for those specifically designed to maintain frozen temperatures, typically around 0°F or lower.

If you require longer-lasting cold temperatures for shipping ice cream internationally, consider using dry ice packs as an alternative to gel packs. While not made of actual dry ice, these packs are designed to maintain low temperatures effectively.

Step 3: Pre-Cool Your Shipping Components

Before you begin packing ice cream shipments for the journey, place your insulated container and gel packs or dry ice packs in the freezer. This will ensure they start at a low temperature, reducing the initial temperature difference when you place the ice cream inside.

Step 4: Pack the Ice Cream

Take your ice cream out of the freezer just before you're ready to pack. Place the ice cream in the middle of the insulated container, and arrange the frozen gel packs or dry ice packs around it. The packs should surround the ice cream on all sides - above, below, and around - to maintain a uniform low temperature.

Step 5: Seal the Container

Once you've arranged the ice cream and refrigerants, seal the insulated container. If you're using an insulated foam box, ensure the lid fits snugly. If you're using an insulated bag, squeeze out any excess air before sealing. This will minimize the presence of warm air inside the container.

Step 6: Place the Insulated Container Inside a Sturdy Shipping Box

For added protection, place the sealed, insulated container inside a sturdy shipping box. This box will provide an additional layer of insulation and protect the container from any physical damage during transit. If there's any empty space inside the box, fill it with packing material. This is a great option to consider if you plan to ship ice cream abroad.

Step 7: Label Your Package

Finally, don't forget to label your package. Mark it as "Perishable" and "Keep Refrigerated" to inform the carrier and the receiver of the package contents.

Step 8: Choose Expedited Shipping

Opt for the quickest shipping option. Ice cream can maintain its quality with the use of refrigerants for about 48 hours, so aim for overnight or express shipping.


While using dry ice might seem like the easiest option, it's possible and often advantageous to use alternatives. With careful planning, the right materials, and expedited shipping, you can ship ice cream successfully, even without dry ice.

And for a reliable solution in shipping frozen foods, including ice cream, consider Nice Packs. Nice Packs offers high-quality dry ice packs and shipping boxes specifically designed for the transportation of perishable goods. Shop with us today.

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