How much does dry ice blasting cost?

Saskia Prestidge
June 11, 2020

Presco Environmental technician, Rob, dry ice blasting paint from a scaffold before it can cross a redline.

Every dry ice blasting job is different which makes it difficult to have a standard price that will be accurate for all situations.

However, there are some key factors that make up the price of a dry ice blasting job. By looking at each of these you can get an approximate value of work.

Please note: all pricing mentioned is in New Zealand Dollars and is GST exclusive.

Input costs

1. Labour

  • This is usually a two-person job. One trained dry ice blasting technician/work supervisor and one assistant to keep the ice hopper full, manage hoses and provide safety watch. The combined charge out rate for both technicians will be around $150/hour depending on experience and qualifications.
  • Overtime rates normally apply for night work or weekend work. Allow 50% extra for overtime rates.

2. Travel and accommodation

  • If the dry ice blasting contractor is traveling to you from out of town, allow travel time at the labour rates above.
  • If the dry ice blasting contractor is traveling to you from out of town and the job runs over multiple days, allow approximately $250 per night per technician for meals and accommodation.
  • A dry ice blasting machine cost around $390/day.
  • Portable high-pressure (at least 10 bar) air compressor with aftercooler.
  • Air hose from compressor (must be outside) to work location.
  • The equipment charges will vary from contractor to contractor but you should allow $75 – $95 per hour.
  • There may be a requirement for access equipment – scaffolding or mobile elevated work platforms. This is extra to the pricing discussed here.

3. Dry Ice

  • 3mm dry ice pellets are usually used for blasting. These are purchased by the kilogram and shipped to your worksite in insulated bins. For multi-day jobs, a fresh delivery of dry ice will be arranged for each day.
  • Allow for consumption of 60 kgs per hour on average plus an extra buffer of 20% to allow for sublimation plus a bit extra so you don’t run out before the job is finished.
  • Depending on quantity ordered, allow between $5.00 and $7.90 per kg.
  • There is likely to be bin hire and freight charges as well.

Cleaning coverage rate per hour

Now that you understand the hourly input costs of dry ice blasting, the next factor is how much area can be cleaned per hour.

This is dependent on factors such as:

  • type of soil
  • thickness of soil
  • how strongly the soil is attached to the surface
  • sensitivity of the surface being cleaned.

Depending on the above factors, the best cleaning speed can be obtained by adjusting the following factors:

  • Air pressure (air speed)
  • Rate (volume) of dry ice feed per minute
  • Size of ice pellet (can be feed through mesh screen to reduce to fine ‘snow’ for sensitive surfaces.)

Trial to establish cleaning rate

The only accurate way to establish the cleaning coverage rate is to conduct a trial. Time the cleaning of a fixed area and record the ice consumption for that area. Then work out total area to be cleaned and multiply by the trial area rate to get your estimated total time.

Other factors to consider, over and above the price

1. Shortened down time = increased production time/up time

Dry ice blasting will reduce production down time in a food processing or manufacturing facility. This is because:

  • it can be performed on ‘hot’ plant. No cool down time required
  • there is no dry-out time required after cleaning, as with water cleaning. Faster start-up.
  • it is up to 10 times faster than manual cleaning on detailed surfaces. Shorting cleaning time.

2. Simultaneous cleaning and sanitising

In addition to the above time savers, dry ice blasting cleans AND sanitises at the same time (with an experienced operator.) Due to the intense cold temperature (-79°C) the surface being cleaned will be sanitised simultaneously.  Learn more about this: Can I clean and sanitise at the same time?

3. Waste reduction

Dry ice blasting is a unique cleaning method because ZERO secondary waste is created during cleaning. No washing water to dispose of, no chemicals to dispose of, no chemical containers to dispose of, no dirty cloths or mops to launder or dispose of. All cleaning waste has an associated disposal cost.  Dry ice blasting avoids this.

4. Ability to clean what other methods cannot

Dry Ice Blasting can clean what other methods cannot. In this respect, it is not comparable to the price of other cleaning methods. Examples are:

  • removal of soil from hot surfaces such as ovens, spray dryers and steam pipes.
  • soil on sensitive equipment such as electronics and sensors
  • removal of glue and ink without solvents
  • removal of soil in a dry production area without introducing any moisture/water

5. Non-abrasive, non-destructive clean

Dry Ice Blasting has no abrasive qualities. As mentioned above, dry ice blasting can be used for cleaning sensitive electronic equipment (with an experienced operator). Glass, rubber, plastic, casting moulds, seals and painted surfaces can be cleaned without damage.


So, if we add all these costs together, we can estimate dry ice blasting to cost between $3,200 and $6,000 per day

The hourly rate for dry ice blasting can appear high initially. However, once the five other factors are considered and costed in accurately, it usually proves to be the most cost effective – and often the only – cleaning method for challenging cleaning requirements.