How Long Will Dry Ice Keep Meat Frozen?

When it comes to preserving meat, especially for transport or long-term storage, dry ice is a game-changer. Known for its extremely low temperature and sublimation properties, dry ice can keep meat frozen for extended periods without the need for electrical refrigeration. But exactly how long can dry ice keep meat frozen? Let’s dive into the details to ensure your meat stays fresh and safe.

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What is Dry Ice?

Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide (CO2), and it’s much colder than regular ice. At a temperature of -109.3°F (-78.5°C), dry ice sublimates directly from solid to gas, leaving no liquid residue. This property makes it ideal for keeping items extremely cold and dry, which is particularly beneficial for meat storage.

Factors Influencing How Long will Dry Ice Keeps Meat Frozen

Several factors can affect the duration that dry ice keeps meat frozen, including:

  1. Amount of Dry Ice: The more dry ice you use, the longer it will last. A typical guideline is to use about 5 to 10 pounds of dry ice for every 24 hours you need to keep the meat frozen.
  2. Type of Cooler: The insulation quality of the cooler or container plays a crucial role. High-quality, thick-walled coolers with minimal air gaps can significantly extend the freezing time.
  3. Meat Packaging: Properly packaging the meat in airtight, insulated materials helps maintain the temperature and prevents air exposure, which can cause faster sublimation of dry ice.
  4. Environmental Conditions: Ambient temperature and exposure to direct sunlight can speed up the sublimation process. Keeping the cooler in a shaded, cool place will maximize the dry ice’s effectiveness.

Estimated Duration for Keeping Meat Frozen

With optimal conditions (good insulation, sufficient dry ice, and favorable environmental factors), dry ice can keep meat frozen for:

  • 24 Hours: Using approximately 5 to 10 pounds of dry ice.
  • 48 Hours: Using approximately 15 to 20 pounds of dry ice.
  • 72 Hours: Using approximately 20 to 30 pounds of dry ice.

For longer durations, additional dry ice will be needed, and it may be necessary to replenish it periodically.

Best Practices for Using Dry Ice to Keep Meat Frozen

To maximize the freezing duration of dry ice, follow these best practices:

  1. Pre-Chill the Cooler: If possible, pre-chill the cooler before adding the meat and dry ice to minimize the initial thermal load.
  2. Layering: Place a layer of dry ice at the bottom of the cooler, then add the meat, and cover it with another layer of dry ice. This sandwich method ensures even cooling.
  3. Ventilation: Allow some ventilation for the CO2 gas to escape, but ensure that the cooler remains mostly sealed to retain the cold air.
  4. Safety Precautions: Handle dry ice with gloves and avoid direct skin contact to prevent frostbite. Ensure good ventilation in the transport vehicle to avoid CO2 buildup.


Using dry ice to keep meat frozen is an efficient and reliable method, especially when considering long-distance transport or power outages. By understanding the factors that influence dry ice performance and implementing best practices, you can ensure that your meat remains frozen and safe for extended periods.

Whether you are a commercial entity shipping large quantities of meat or an individual planning a long camping trip, dry ice provides a powerful solution to your freezing needs.

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