Dry Ice Camping Uses – Some Practical And Others Weird

Large dry ice blocks

So What is Dry Ice? Dry Ice is frozen carbon dioxide. Dry Ice that is captured during various industrial processes is captured and recycled into Dry Ice.

Dry Ice is freezing (-109.3°F / -78.6°C). This makes it an excellent option for use in freezing products and keeping them frozen. You may wonder where the term “Dry” comes in. Dry Ice transforms directly from its solid state to gas in normal atmospheric conditions without first going through a liquid form – hence “Dry” Ice. This transformation is called “Sublimation.”

If placed in a standard regular ice chest, Dry Ice will sublimate at a rate of between five and ten pounds every 24 hours. Buy Dry Ice as near to the time you need it as possible.

Dry Ice is a natural product. It is merely Carbon Dioxide CO2, the same material that humans expel when they breathe and that trees suck in during photosynthesis.

Advantages of Dry Ice for Camping Compared to Regular Ice

Food cooled crisp using dry ice

When camping, it can be quite a challenge to maintain the coldness of your food and beverages. Most people will throw a bag of regular ice cubes in the cooler to keep things chilled, but the problem is that soon the ice melts, and you end up with a cooler full of iced water. Dry Ice solves that problem.

How Much Does Dry Ice Costs And Where Can You Buy It?

Probably the most accessible source of Dry Ice is by taking a visit to Walmart. They sell Dry Ice at between $1 and $3 per pound. I suggest that you phone the store first as not all stores may have stocks. Yes, you can buy larger quantities cheaper. A 50-pound block can be purchased for $35 at specialist Ice Suppliers.

9 Ways You Can Use Dry Ice When Camping

Beverage cooled outdoors using dry ice

Before we look at uses, here are just a couple of tips for using Dry Ice. When camping, you are probably going to need between 10 and 12 pounds each day. Keep it in a standard sized cooler. Do not keep it in an airtight container as there is the potential for it to explode if you do. Do not leave the cooler in direct sunshine. Do not keep glass containers in Dry Ice. The glass will become fragile. Always use insulated gloves or, at the very least, a hand towel. Do not touch with bare hands.

1. Freezing the Fish you Catch

Fishing is a great activity when out camping. It is not just the act of fishing that is rewarding. It is also the fact that you can come away with some tasty fish. A significant problem arises when you cannot eat the fish within a few hours, as it will start to spoil. The solution is to use Dry Ice to freeze the fish fast and then keep it frozen until you return home.

2. Use with Portable Fan to Keep Cool

Are you missing the air conditioning? Camping is great fun, but it is possible that excessive heat can spoil the fun. Get around this by placing a bowl of Dry Ice on a table in front of a fan. As the fan blows warm air over the bowl, it will suck up the sublimating Ice and blow a nice chilled air stream in your direction.

3. Protection from Mosquitos

Mosquitos can spoil a camping trip. They are attracted to the CO2 in our breath as we expel it, and they enjoy a feast, making life miserable. Place a cloth bag with a chunk of Dry Ice and hang it where you sit (on the porch of the tent), and the CO2 given off as it sublimates will attract the Mosquitos away from you.

4. Make Your Own Sodas

Mix root beer extract, together with sugar and water, and then add small chunks of Dry Ice into the mixture. Use a fruit extract instead of root beer if you wish. Then cover the mixture with cold water. Seal the container, occasionally checking that pressure has not raised too much. If the mixture begins to freeze, it means that there is not enough water. Make sure all the chunks of dry Ice have turned to gas.

5. Use in a Cool Box to Keep Frozen Foods

To make food last longer, you should choose the correct size of the camping cooler. You do not want to leave too much air inside the box, which will hasten the dry ice sublimation. Cover the food with Dry Ice and then fill available space with bags of ice cubes. Be careful to ensure that, if the box is airtight, that you release pressure occasionally.

Large dry ice blocks

6. Use in a Cool Box to Keep Chilled Food

Keeping food cold on a camping trip is the same as keeping food frozen, except you put a cardboard barrier between the Dry Ice and the food also keeping your cooler cold.

7. Keep Ice Cream Frozen Using Dry Ice

You may have tried in the past to take ice cream with you when you have gone camping. You will know that it does not work if you use ice cubes to cool a box. Dry Ice is substantially colder and will allow you to keep Ice cream cold. Treat the Ice Cream as you would any other frozen food (see above) and not leave large amounts of air in the chill box.

8. Make a Fizzy Fruit Drink

Place some berries into a small container with a small amount of dry Ice. Let the berries freeze and then place them into a glass of fruit juice with tiny Dry Ice amounts. The Dry Ice will bubble out of the berries and turn your fruit juice drink into a sparkling refreshing beverage.

9. Freshen up a Smelly Tent

Make a mixture of some essential oils and water. Please place it in a bowl in the tent’s center and drop some Dry Ice into the mix. This will create an aromatic fog that will permeate the tent, creating a pleasant smell. Make sure most of the CO2 is cleared before you sleep.

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Things to Consider Using Dry Ice

Seafood and garnishing cooled by dry ice

It is important to remember that Dry Ice is frozen Carbon Dioxide. Do not allow this Carbon Dioxide Gas to sublimate and escape into a sealed car as there is the danger that it might make the driver drowsy. When using Dry Ice in making drinks, ensure that all the Dry Ice sublimates before drinking the beverage. Do not swallow pieces of Dry Ice. They will harm the lining of your throat. It’s best to buy your supply of Dry Ice just before you set out on your camping trip, as the moment you collect it, the Dry Ice will commence sublimation.


Dry ice cooling fruit cocktails in summer

How to Buy Dry Ice?

Buy Dry Ice at specialist Ice Suppliers or some branches of Walmart. If you go to a specialist store, you can often buy Dry Ice in various formats. It is best to, but blocks as the surface area exposed to the air are less than the chipped or pellet varieties. This will make the Dry Ice last longer. Whenever the Ice meets air, it will start to sublimate and turn to gas.

Is dry Ice suitable for camping?

Dry Ice is colder and dryer than traditional ice cubes. It will keep food frozen, including Ice Cream, and keep it longer. It is also very efficient at keeping chilled food at the correct temperatures as well. Whereas Ice will turn to water and flood the cold box, spoiling the food, Dry Ice will turn to gas and leaves the cool box dry.

How long does dry Ice last camping?

Blocks of Dry Ice in a large cool box will lose about 5 – 10lbs a day. You should purchase enough to last the required length of stay. Should you choose to buy the Dry Ice already cut into cubes, pellets, or even spaghetti format, this will sublimate faster. It is better to purchase blocks and chop off smaller amounts if you need them.

How long will 10 lbs. of dry ice last in a cooler?

Some people have been known to place Dry Ice in a Deep Freeze before the camping trip. This is a terrible idea as the Dry Ice’s excessively cold temperature will switch off the Thermostat of the freezer. It is best to store in a cool box with as little exposure to air as possible to minimize the sublimation and consequent loss of Dry Ice. 10lns of Dry Ice will last one or two days in a cool box that is sealed.

How to Dispose and Is Dry Ice Safe To Dispose?

Dry Ice should not be touched with your bare hands. Use insulated gloves to avoid frostbite of skin irritation. If you have dry Ice to dispose of, the most responsible thing to do is mix it with a large volume of water and turn into Carbon Dioxide, which will naturally disperse. Do not do this in an enclosed space. It is best to do it outside. DO NOT dispose of Dry Ice in a sewer or garbage disposal. That can potentially cause damage.

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Final Thoughts

Bartender using dry ice for glamping event

Dry Ice is undoubtedly an innovation that can make camping so much easier and more convenient. No longer do you end up with plastic cooler boxes sloshing around with water. Now your cooler boxes stay dry and cold much longer than before.

However, my favorite trick with Dry Ice is to create Popsicles. Cut a small Dry Iceblock and make a cylindrical indentation in the top; fill the indentation with fruit cordial and lay a popsicle stick. Hence, it partly submerges in the cordial. Then leave this for ten minutes.

You can then lift out the popsicle using the stick (DO NOT TOUCH THE DRY ICE) and stand the popsicle in a cup for a few minutes to warm up. Voila, there you have your campsite popsicles.