The Process

CO2 dry ice cleaning is rapidly becoming the preferred method of cleaning among the industrial, commercial, utility, and environmental sectors.

CO2 Dry Ice Cleaning


Online cleaning of various types of equipment eliminates the need of disassembly and shutdown, allowing operations to continue.

How does it work?

Compressed air shoots the dry ice pellets out of a nozzle at -109.3 degree F or -78 degree C, somewhat like sandblasting or high pressure water or steam blasting, but with superior results.
The dry ice “blasting” against the material to be removed causes it to shrink and loose adhesion from its subsurface.
Additionally when some of the dry ice penetrates through the material to be removed, it comes in contact with the underlying surface. The warmer subsurface causes the dry ice to convert back into carbon dioxide gas. This gas expands up to 800 times its volume and expands behind the material, speeding up its removal.

The cleaning action of dry ice blasting is due to three factors:

KINETIC ENERGY: Compressed air propels the dry ice particles up to supersonic speeds. Though light in weight, they puncture the contaminate and chip away at it, thereby opening the surface of the contaminate.

THERMAL DIFFERENTIALS: An immediate and localized cold shock to the contaminate versus a substrate (surface) which cools down much less. This action promotes a contact break between contaminate and substrate.

SUBLIMATION: As the dry ice sublimes (becomes a gas) on impact, it increases up to 800 times its volume from solid to vapor, when it enters the cracks within the contaminate. This gas expansion, breaking up the contaminate from within, is the major factor responsible for the Dry Ice cleaning effect.

Dry Ice Blasting Sublimation

Instead of using hard abrasive media to grind on a surface, often causing damage, dry ice blasting uses soft dry ice, accelerated to supersonic speeds, creating mini-explosions on the surface to lift the undesirable item off the underlying substrate.

Dry Ice vs. Other Methods

Dry Ice Cleaning Comparison:

Blasting Cleaning Technique Waste? Abrasive? Toxic? Electrically Conductive? Performance
Dry Ice No No No No Excellent
Sand Yes Yes No No OK
Glass Beads Yes Yes No* No OK
Walnut Shells Yes Yes No* No Limited
Steam No No No* Yes Poor
Solvents Yes No Yes Yes Limited

* Each of these blasting materials becomes contaminated upon contact if used to clean hazardous objects. When this happens, these materials are then classified as toxic waste requiring safe disposal.

Advantages of Dry Ice Cleaning vs Traditional Methods:

Issue Traditional Dry Ice Blasting
Equipment Downtime
  • Relocated for cleaning
  • Disassembly/reassembly
  • Drying time required
  • Equipment can be cleaned in place
  • Dry process - equipment can restart immediately after cleaning
Hazardous Waste
  • Cleaner becomes and treated as as secondary contaminant
  • No additional contaminates
  • Dry ice sublimates (becomes a gas) with contact with the target surface
Labour Hours
  • Intensive hand scrubbing
  • Lengthy cleaning and follow-up cleaning
  • Dramatically reduced - often completed in a quarter of time or better
Quality of Cleaning
  • Poor to average
  • Excellent
Potential Equipment Damage
  • Grit abrasions
  • Grit contamination
  • Movement of equipment to and from cleaning area
  • No equipment damage
  • Preventative maintenance very realistic as labor hours are much less
  • Health threats from solvents
  • Water-based cleaning pose hazards around electrical equipment
  • Threats to the environment
  • Standard safety precautions
  • Dry process is safe around electrical equipment
  • Cleaner becomes additional hazardous waste
  • Expensive Solvents
  • Additional labor
  • Minimal cost of dry ice