How to Locate Dry Ice

Dry ice, the solid form of carbon dioxide (CO2), is a versatile substance widely used in various applications ranging from industrial processes to food preservation and even in theatrical effects for entertainment. Knowing how to locate dry ice can be beneficial when you need a refrigeration solution that doesn’t leave residue, or you are looking to create a dramatic fog effect for a party or event. This article will guide you through where to find dry ice, how to purchase it responsibly, and some considerations you should take into account.

Understanding Dry Ice and Its Uses

Dry ice is made by compressing and cooling carbon dioxide gas until it liquifies, and then allowing it to expand and freeze into a solid state. At a temperature of -78.5°C (-109.3°F), dry ice sublimates, or turns directly from a solid to a gas, bypassing the liquid form. This unique property makes it extremely useful for keeping items frozen without the mess of melting ice.

One of the most common uses of dry ice is in shipping perishables. It can keep food products frozen during transit; for example, meat and ice cream stayed solid in temperatures that regular ice couldn’t manage without turning into water. Moreover, because dry ice sublimates into carbon dioxide gas, it is also used to create fog effects in theatrical productions and haunted houses.

Where to Purchase Dry Ice

Finding a reliable source of dry ice requires some knowledge of local suppliers or the willingness to search online. Here are several places where you can typically find dry ice:

Local Grocery Stores: Many grocery chains carry dry ice. It’s commonly stocked in larger stores particularly those with significant frozen goods sections. The dry ice is usually kept in a special insulated container, often near the front of the store or in the frozen section.

Gas Suppliers: Companies that supply bottled gases for industrial and medical use often carry dry ice as well. These suppliers typically offer dry ice in larger quantities than retail stores, making them a good option for more substantial needs.

Online Retailers: There are various online retailers, such as Dry Ice Delivered or Penguin Brand Dry Ice, where you can order dry ice in various quantities. These retailers often provide shipping options that include proper insulation to ensure that the dry ice remains solid during transit.

Ice Companies: Many ice companies not only sell regular ice but also offer dry ice. They can be an excellent resource, especially if you need large amounts or if you require regular deliveries.

How to Purchase Dry Ice

When purchasing dry ice, weigh your needs against the availability and cost. Dry ice is sold by weight, and prices can vary depending on where you buy it. On average, dry ice costs between $1.00 and $3.00 per pound. When buying from a local store, you can expect smaller quantities, typically up to 10 pounds. Buying in bulk from industrial suppliers might reduce the price per pound but usually requires a minimum purchase.

Be aware that due to its sublimation into CO2 gas, dry ice cannot be stored indefinitely. Plan to purchase your dry ice close to the time it will be used. Storage can be managed in a cooler or an insulated container to slow sublimation, but anticipate regular weight loss (as much as 5-10 pounds per 24 hours depending on storage conditions).

Safety Considerations When Handling Dry Ice

Handling dry ice safely is crucial due to its extremely cold temperature, which can cause severe frostbite upon contact with skin. Always use protective gloves when handling dry ice. Additionally, because dry ice sublimates into carbon dioxide, ensure that it is stored in well-ventilated areas to prevent CO2 buildup, which could lead to asphyxiation.

Never place dry ice in airtight containers as the build-up of CO2 gas can cause the container to explode. For transport, use insulated but not airtight containers. Lastly, do not leave dry ice exposed where children or pets can reach it, and dispose of unused dry ice by allowing it to sublimate in a well-ventilated area.


Whether you need to keep something frozen without electricity, create dramatic fog for an event, or have another use in mind, locating and using dry ice appropriately can be extremely beneficial. Always remember to handle it with care and respect the peculiarities of this unique substance. By knowing the ideal places to purchase dry ice and how to handle it safely, you can effectively meet your needs while maintaining safety.

The availability of dry ice can vary, so it’s prudent to call ahead to check stock, especially if you require a significant amount. If managed correctly, dry ice is not only a practical solution for many problems but also an exciting element that can add a cool twist to your events.