FAQs – Dry Ice Blasting FAQs

Q. Can I use my Sandblast Equipment to perform Dry Ice Blasting?
No. Dry Ice Blasting Equipment is unique and contains several engineering features not found on sandblasting equipment.

Q. What kind of Dry Ice equipment do you offer?
We are authorized dealers for Ice Tech equipment – we teamed up with them after evaluating other makes and models, as Ice Tech equipment was more user-friendly and built better. We offer different capacity machines for both sale and rent.

Q. How does Dry Ice Blasting work?
Dry ice blasting is a process whereby kinetic and thermal energy is transferred when the accelerated dry ice pellets strike the surface being cleaned. Dry ice and air combine to remove the unwanted material and leave a clean surface free of any contaminant.

  • Kinetic

Dry ice pellets are accelerated by compressed air to high speeds – fracturing the top layer of dirt/residue.

  • Thermal

Once the dry ice penetrates the dirt/residue, the temperature of both the dirt/residue layer and the substrate decreases. The different materials contract unequally and the adherence between them decreases. This thermal difference helps to separate the dirt/residue from the substrate.

  • Sublimation

After the dry ice makes its initial impact, it instantaneously turns from a solid to a gas. The volume expansion (by a factor of 700) causes a micro explosion that detaches the dirt/residue from the substrate.

  • Post Blasting

The substrate is clean, dry and completely intact.

Q. Is it true that Dry Ice Blasting doesn’t require any clean-up afterwards?
No – any contaminants which are removed during the Dry Ice blasting process need to be contained and disposed of properly.

Q. I’ve heard no containment is needed if Dry Ice blasting?
Containment is always job specific. Certain jobs do not require containment, no matter what method is used. However, “containing” dry ice can be more difficult than other methods. Because no dust is generated, a containment breach can go unnoticed for hours, whereas when blasting with any other abrasive, a breach is instantly noticed due to the dust that escapes.
Q. Can Dry Ice absorb odors like Soda can?
No. Only Baking Soda deodorizes the surrounding indoor environment. This is especially important when doing fire restoration work, as you want the soda dust to travel where the smoke went in order to completely eliminate any trace odors. When doing a fire job with Dry Ice, the end result may look the same, but it will not smell the same.

Q. How is Dry Ice handled?
Very carefully. Special PPE is required when filling the pressure vessel with Dry Ice (Soda or Glass can be handled with bare hands, and does not require special PPE when filling the pot, etc.)
Q. Does Dry Ice cause damage to soft substrates?
Yes. Dry Ice, although not technically harder than Baking Soda, will cause surface damage to wood structures because of the high velocity it requires in order to work effectively. Dry Ice can also cause an exothermic reaction on “layered” substrates, causing failure or damage. For example, printing rollers found on printing presses should never be blasted with Dry Ice, as the Ceramic top coat of the roller will “peel away” from the steel core it is bonded to when subjected to severe temperature changes.
Q. What is the shelf life of Dry Ice vs. other Blasting Media products?
Dry Ice only lasts 2-5 days, and is subject to sublimation (melting) from the moment it gets shipped to your job site. The longer the transit time, the shorter the “shelf life”. All other blast medias, if stored properly, can last for years.
Q. What happens if my job estimate is off – can I return unused material?
If this question was under any of the other blast media categories, the answer would be yes. With Dry Ice, it is not returnable, which makes estimating critical to the success of any Dry Ice project. Most companies “cushion” their Dry Ice order to ensure they don’t run out, and it is common to have costly Dry Ice left over at the end of a job.
Q. What do I do with the packaging the Dry Ice comes in?
Usually a deposit is collected up front for Ice Totes and Coolers, and these must be returned in usable condition in order to receive a refund. Keep in mind large amounts of Dry Ice are heavy and bulky, and usually require a fork lift and loading dock or lift gate at the job site. For hotter climates, indoor storage during the project is recommended.
Q. Is Dry Ice suitable for confined spaces and hard to reach areas?
Dry Ice literally sucks the oxygen out of any enclosed space, so wearing a proper tethered hood system is a must. For semi-ventilated areas, an oxygen level monitor is usually needed.
Q. Is Dry Ice more productive than Soda Blasting?
No. On a per square foot basis, coverage rates are about the same for both methods. However, Dry Ice blast hoses are shorter in length – usually only 40’ long (compared to up to 200’ for Soda Blasting). The short Dry Ice Blast hose is necessary to prevent further melting of the material, and also minimizes the freezing effect. The short hose also means more time is spent moving equipment around vs. time spent blasting. Lastly, most dry ice blasters we speak to confirm they are more fatigued at the end of the day when compared to other blasting methods.