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How Long Will Dry Ice Keep Meat Frozen

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If for some reason you cannot keep meat in your freezer, the next best way to keep it frozen is to use dry ice. Dry ice is also a great option when you are transporting meat, so it doesn’t defrost during the journey.

When using dry ice to keep meat frozen, you need to know what the limitations are.

How long will dry ice keep meat frozen? In a regular cooler, dry ice will keep meat frozen for between 24 to 48 hours. In a higher-end cooler, the dry ice could keep the meat frozen for up to three days. This is quite a long time, but not nearly as long as meat stays frozen in the freezer.

Read on to find out more about using dry ice to keep meat frozen, and some tips to help the meat stay frozen for longer.

How Long Does Meat Stay Frozen With Dry Ice?

Typically, in a regular cooler, dry ice will keep meat frozen for between 24 to 48 hours. However, this can vary depending on a few factors.

The type of cooler you are using does have some effect on how long it stays frozen, as well as how much dry ice you are using.

Meat only needs to be at 32 degrees Fahrenheit once it is frozen, and as dry ice is much colder than this, it keeps meat frozen until there is no dry ice left.

Dry ice will last for up to 48 hours in a regular cooler, so it will keep the meat frozen for this length of time. If the dry ice starts to decline, you can top it up with more to extend the frozen life of the meat even more.

Dry ice will last even longer if it is kept in a high-quality cooler, as these work to insulate temperature better, so the dry ice lasts longer, which means the meat stays frozen longer.

In a high-quality cooler, the meat will stay frozen in dry ice for up to three days, and even longer if you top the dry ice up.

However, if you are planning on posting meat and need it frozen, it is advised to pay for 24-hour delivery to be safe.

Tips For Freezing Meat In Dry Ice

You can make the dry ice last for longer if you prepare the meat, cooler, and dry ice properly. Here are some tips on freezing meat in dry ice to ensure it stays frozen for longer:

Use An Insulated Cooler

By far, the best way to keep dry ice frozen for longer, and therefore the meat frozen for longer, is to use an insulated cooler. 

You don’t need an overly fancy cooler, but one that keeps the frozen ice cold for longer is obviously going to keep the meat frozen for longer. You will not need to top up the dry ice as often in a cooler that keeps the cold in.

The difference between a low-quality cooler, and a high-quality cooler, can be up to two days of freezing with dry ice, so it is definitely worth considering the cooler you will use.

Make Sure To Freeze Meat First

One great tip to make the dry ice last for longer is to freeze your meat before placing it in the dry ice if possible.

Dry ice can freeze the meat, but by freezing the meat first, and therefore not adding room temperature or warmer meat to the dry ice, the dry ice will not be raised to warmer temperatures.

Frozen meat will allow the dry ice to long for longer, and the longer the dry ice lasts, the longer the meat will stay frozen.

Choose The Right Size Cooler

Along with choosing a high-quality cooler, you should choose the right size cooler as well. The cooler should have enough room to hold the meat and the dry ice and not much more than this.

If there is too much space in the cooler, then the dry ice will not last as long, as it will have a larger space to cool. A smaller space that allows enough room to fit everything will help the dry ice last longer.

However, you also need to make sure that the cooler isn’t too small either, as you won’t be able to seal it shut properly if it is overfilled.

This cooler you can pick up on Amazon is a fantastic product for the money.

Insulate The Outside

To extend the freezing time even further, you can insulate the outside of the cooler as well. There are many ways to do this, but the simplest is to wrap blankets or towels around the cooler.

This helps to keep warm air out, and cold air in, and is recommended for coolers that do not insulate temperatures as well as the higher-quality ones do.

Make sure to also keep the cooler away from any heat sources, and to keep it out of direct sunlight.

Keep The Meat At The Bottom

It is best to place the meat at the bottom of the cooler, and then place the blocks of dry ice on top of it. Further to this, you should separate the meat and the dry ice with a layer of cardboard, so that the dry ice does not cause freezer burn.

The cold air will sink to the bottom of the cooler, where the meat is, which is ideal to keep the meat cooler for longer. Keeping the meat on top of the dry ice would create an uneven temperature environment.

Top Up The Dry Ice

If you need the meat to stay frozen for longer than 48 hours and you cannot place it in the freezer, then you should top up the dry ice in the cooler.

The dry ice will definitely lessen in quantity after the first 24 hours, and you don’t want to get to the point where there is no dry ice left.

Rather top up with a block or two every 12 hours or so to extend the life of the dry ice, and the freezing of the meat.

Will Dry Ice Burn Meat?

Dry ice is very, very cold, and if placed directly onto meat, even onto the meat packaging, then there is a good chance that it will cause freezer burn.

You do not want this to happen, as it destroys the texture of the meat and causes it to decline in quality quite a bit.

The dry ice will cause the water in the meat to freeze rapidly, and as the water freezes and expands, it ruptures the cells of the meat and causes damage to the meat.

Here is a great guide on keeping meat frozen with dry ice:

What Is The Benefit Of Using Dry Ice For Meat?

Ice does a great job at keeping things frozen, but when it comes to keeping meat frozen, and for transporting meat, then dry ice is possibly the better choice.

One of the main reasons for this is that ice melts down into liquid, whereas dry ice turns into a gas. This means that you won’t have a pool of water in the bottom of your cooler, and your meat or the packaging won’t become wet.

Dry ice is also much colder than normal ice, so it does stay frozen for longer if kept in the right conditions.

The downside to this is that the dry ice can cause freezer burn to meat, so the meat does have to be wrapped in aluminum foil, newspaper, or covered with cardboard to separate it from the dry ice.

The Risks Of Dry Ice

It is important to note the risks of using dry ice. It has many benefits, but these benefits do not come without risk.

The first is that dry ice is incredibly cold, and it cannot be handled with bare hands. It will cause a freezer burn on your skin, which is really unpleasant.

The other risk is that dry ice is solidified carbon dioxide, and as this turns back into a gas, it could cause asphyxiation if it is in a confined space and there is not enough oxygen present.

How Long Will Dry Ice Keep Meat Frozen?

Using dry ice to keep meat frozen is perfect for when you do not have power, or if you have to transport meat. Using the right cooler, dry ice can keep meat frozen for up to 48 hours, and even up to a day longer if it is a high-quality cooler.

You just need to make sure to store the meat properly in a cooler with dry ice, to prevent freezer burn, and to allow it to stay frozen for longer.

Related Questions

Can you keep dry ice in the freezer?

If the power goes out and you want to keep the contents of your freezer frozen, you can place dry ice in the freezer. It should last for up to two days in the freezer, as long as you do not open the freezer door often.

Can you eat food that has dry ice on it?

Never eat food with dry ice on it, or drink a drink with dry ice in it.

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