The 10 Key Benefits of Dry Ice Blasting

Saskia Prestidge
October 6, 2021


Dry ice blasting is a phenomenal breakthrough in the cleaning industry.  It solves so many problems that previously made cleaning very difficult.  

This method of cleaning with frozen CO2 has many benefits, including:

  1. Zero secondary waste  
  2. Zero water
  3. Zero chemical
  4. A sustainable cleaning method
  5. Non-conductive
  6. Sanitise as you clean
  7. Reduce plant downtime
  8. Non-abrasive
  9. Deep clean in place
  10. Odour-free cleaning  

  

1. Zero Secondary Waste

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Try this.

Close your eyes.  Take a mental picture of heavy-duty industrial cleaning.

What is your picture?

It probably includes guys in hard hats and hi-vis overalls, water blasting or steam cleaning, using powerful chemicals, or maybe even sandblasting.

You’re right.  All these cleaning methods are used routinely on industrial sites.

But they all have one common problem; they create secondary waste. Dealing with secondary waste is a real headache on most industrial sites. It can’t be released into waterways or put into the ground, so it often must be collected and disposed of at an approved waste facility. This is all rather costly.


The problem with secondary waste

 Most traditionally cleaning methods create some kind of secondary waste, such as:

  • solvents
  • water
  • chemicals and chemical residue
  • fibre cleaning cloths 
  • lint 
  • blasting media – e.g sand, glass

 All this waste needs to be removed before production can recommence.  


Dry ice blasting creates zero secondary waste

Dry ice blasting works through a process called sublimation. When the frozen CO2 pellets hit the surface, they dislodge the soil and immediately turn from their solid state back into a gas – they sublimate. The CO2 gas disappears back into the atmosphere leaving only the soil to be vacuumed up from where it has fallen to the ground. No residual cleaning agent is left on the surface.

The benefits this creates:

  • No rinsing is required
  • No dry out time needed
  • No clean up labour time
  • No risk of product contamination
  • No risk of human error failing to perform the critical rinse process
  • Shorter off-production window possible
  • Most maintenance tasks can be fit into the same shutdown window

Want to clean without clean up? Learn more about dry ice blasting here.


2. Zero Water

Water is the most common cleaning medium on the planet. It is cheap, non-toxic, non-hazardous and readily available (in most developed countries).

However, sometimes cleaning with water is not an option.  

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Presco Environmental technician, Henry, dry ice blasting around sensitive electrical componentry.

Why wouldn’t you want to use water?


1. Electrical componentry

 Water and electricity don’t mix.  You can read all about dry ice blasting for electrical equipment here.


2. To protect our environment

Dirty water must be disposed of somewhere. The chemical and contamination in the washdown water should never enter the wastewater system, unless your factory has its own wastewater treatment plant.

Many regional councils strictly monitor what is in the wastewater pipes from factories, especially if there is a natural stream or waterway nearby tat could be affected.  


3. Bacteria and pathogen control

Bacteria needs moisture to exist. Cleaning with water provides one of the critical keys for life to resident bacteria, not to mention the bacteria that is introduces in the water you are cleaning with.

Pressure washing cases splash back.  Despite the best of care, it can cause clean areas to be re-contaminated when the dirty water splashes back over them.


4. Dry process environment 

In a dry processing environment, such as a milk powder dryer, cleaning with water creates unwanted downtime; you have to dry the plant out before production can resume. Dry ice blasting does not create moisture, so production can recommence immediately after cleaning.


How does dry ice blasting work?

Dry ice blasting works through a process called sublimation. Normally, to get from a solid to a gas, a substance must turn to a liquid first. Sublimation is when a substance turns straight from solid to a gas. When dry ice blasting, the frozen CO2¬ pellets hit the surface and immediately turn back into a gas. No water is used in this process.


If you need to clean without water, learn more about dry ice blasting here.

Don’t think dry ice blasting is for you? Read this article: 3 Ways to Clean Without Water


3. Completely clean, chemical free

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Dry ice pellets are made of compressed CO2 gas; no chemicals are needed in the cleaning process.

Everyone has grown used to using powerful solvents, alkalis, and acids for industrial cleaning.  And for good reason: they work.  

But there are many associated health and safety risks when it comes to using strong chemicals.  This is unfortunate, because some things can’t be cleaned without them, right?

Wrong. Dry ice blasting removes the toughest build up using only recycled carbon dioxide, frozen into rice-sized gas pellets. The pellets freeze the soil on impact, dislodging it so it falls to the floor. The pellets sublimate (turn back to a gas), leaving no secondary waste.


What are the benefits of cleaning with no chemicals?


It is non-hazardous

 Dry ice blasting eliminates the chemical hazard.  Instead, it uses carbon dioxide – a naturally occurring gas essential for plant life.  Apart from use in confined space (where additional ventilation or breathing apparatus may be required) CO2 is completely harm free. 


No chemical clean-up

If you clean with chemicals, something needs to be done with the waste.

  • The chemical cannot be tipped down the drain; it needs to be collected and transported to an approved disposal site
  • The contaminated cleaning cloths often end in plastic bag; this creates a landfill problem
  • The chemical containers must be triple rinsed and taken to an approved waste facility.  

Dry ice blasting removes all these associated costs.


No chemical residue

 Food product cannot go back onto a surface with chemical residue.  Even with careful rinsing, it is difficult to achieve a 100% chemical-free surface after cleaning with chemical.  


Sanitise without chemical sanitiser 

Normally chemical is required to sanitise a surface. Dry ice blasting can sanitise without any chemical.

Due to dry ice’s extremely cold temperature (-78°C), bacteria, mould and fungi are killed on impact.


Wanting to clean without chemicals? Learn more about dry ice blasting here. 


4. A sustainable cleaning solution 

 Dry ice blasting recycles and reuses carbon dioxide before it is released back into the environment.  CO2 makes up more than 80% of the greenhouse gasses that we emit1.

Dry ice blasting takes this waste product and gives it a useful second life.  


5. Non-conductive 

Water and electricity don’t mix. Sadly, that doesn’t mean your electrical equipment and plant doesn’t get dirty. Cleaning this has always been difficult and time-consuming.

Dry ice blasting solves the problem of cleaning on or around electrical, live or sensitive parts, as it is waterless and non-conductive. This makes dry ice blasting one of the best cleaning methodologies for:


Electric motors

 Dry ice blasting allows motors to be cleaned in place.  This saves time and money through reduced labour and plant downtime.  The dry process means there is no secondary waste, no drying-out time and minimal clean up.  Dry ice blasting is also non-abrasive, so will not damage the small parts of motors.  


Generators

 Dry ice blasting is ideal for cleaning electrical generating equipment to reduce overheating issues and improves output efficiency.  Dry ice blasting also allows the units to be cleaned in place without damage to cables and insulation.

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Insulators and switches

 Dirt build-up on your insulators and switches can cause arc overs.  Dry ice blasting can remove this build-up without any equipment downtime.  Because the process is dry, there is no requirement to dry out the equipment after cleaning and the chance of corrosion from moisture is greatly reduced.


Cable trays

 Normal cleaning tools and solvents can cause damage to the cable insulation on cable trays.  Dry ice blasting is the answer to cable tray cleaning.  It can remove accumulated dirt, dust, grit, and other foreign materials simply and efficiently without damaging the insulation.  

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Stator and rotor cleaning

Dry ice blasting removes carbon deposits from winding and other dirt build up on the stator and rotor. Oil and greases are removed from the bottom of the rotor without damage to the insulation coatings.

The benefits of using dry ice blasting to clean your electrical equipment:

  • No dry out process required
  • No potential damage to any components
  • No power outage – you can blast live equipment
  • Instant energy savings/output improvements

Interested in non-conductive cleaning? Learn more about dry ice blasting here.  


6. Sanitise as you clean

Food safety 101: you must sanitise after you clean. You can’t sanitise dirt, so you must clean first. You can’t just clean if you want to completely remove pathogens, so you must sanitise.

Sanitising after cleaning usually means a lot of extra steps:

-    Mix the chemical at the right dilution rate

-    Apply the solution to the clean surface with a sprayer or a foamer

-    Ensure the sanitiser stays wet on the surface for the correct dwell time

-    Rinse the surface thoroughly (unless you are using a non-rinse sanitiser)

-    Wait for your surface to dry again


What effect would it have on your bottom line if you cleaned and sanitised in one pass?


Dry ice blasting sanitises as it cleans

Obviously, dry ice blasting is cleaning the surface as it dislodges the soil. Because of the super cold temperature of dry ice (-78°C), it also kills the bacteria, such as Salmonella, E-coli and Listeria, on the surface; disinfecting, sanitising and decontaminating all in one pass.

Bonus point: because the cleaning process is completely dry, you are not introducing moisture – one of the promoters of bacteria growth.


7. Reduce your plant downtime

Any production plant can only run for so long before the product quality drops out of specification and it it’s time to stop the plant for a deep clean.

Deep cleans cause plant downtime.  But if you keep running the plant you will be producing second grade product; if you shut down you will be producing no product.  Plant downtime is a necessary evil.

Dry ice blasting can help you reduce your downtime and be a better plant manager.  


How dry ice blasting reduces plant downtime

 Bringing in an experienced and qualified dry ice blasting contractor to assist with your deep cleaning is one of the best ways for a plant or process manager to increase their plant uptime.  


4 reasons why:


1. No waiting for the plant to cool down

The greater the difference in temperature of the dry ice and the surface being cleaned, the greater the thermal shock. Thermal shock is what causes dry ice blasting to remove soil from a surface, therefore the greater the thermal shock, the more effective dry ice blasting is. CO2 is extremely cold, -78°C, so you want your surface to be hot.

Instead of waiting for your plant to cool down before cleaning, you will get the best results if you dry ice blast as soon as you have shut your plant down, while the equipment is still hot.  


2. Less dismantling and reassembling plant

Normally, components of your plant can be dry ice blasted in place, or inside the production hall. No having to disassemble your plant and take it outside to a wash bay. This is possible because no chemicals are used, and no high-pressure water will push contamination deep inside your plant.

  • Time saved ✔
  • Less manual handling required ✔
  • Less wear and tear on your plant ✔

3. No drying time

Dry ice blasting involves no dry out time. Because the CO2 sublimates on impact, there is no moisture involved. For a dry production plant, this is huge: as soon as cleaning is complete, production can resume.

Please note: Cold dry ice can cause condensation on steel surfaces. This is something an experienced operator should know how to control  


4. No time is wasted disposing of secondary waste

By reducing the downtime and activities that are normally associated with deep cleaning, dry ice blasting substantially reduces the total cost of your clean.

Wanting to sanitise as you clean? Learn more about dry ice blasting here.  


8. Non-abrasive

Dry ice blasting can be extremely gentle on any substrate being cleaned. All other forms of blasting media are abrasive to some degree.

Dry ice blasting is so effective, yet it can be 100% non-abrasive: it can remove the toughest build-up from the softest surface.  It’s really something that needs to be seen to be believed.  

Seven ways non-abrasive cleaning benefits the food and beverage industry:


1. Bearings

 Unless you plan to replace them, you’re unlikely to sand blast around bearings.  Dry ice pellets sublimate – disappear on impact – so there are no residual abrasives forced inside the bearing roller tracks to chew them out in the next few hours of operation. You can dry ice blast all around your rotating plant without any worries about destroying bearings in the process.


2. Seals 

 As with bearings, rubber seals do not co-habit with abrasives. Instead of spending hours disassembling plant to traditionally blast it clean, dry ice blasting lets you clean right over rubber seals without any chance of cutting the rubber or pushing abrasives past the seal. Think of all those hours you have just shaved off your maintenance shut down!


3. Labels

 Yes, the plant will come up beautifully clean with sand blasting, soda blasting or bead blasting but oops - you’ve just lost all of those important labels and stickers. Who remembers what pipe/wire goes where now? Dry ice blasting can be so gentle that you can remove heavy stuck on soil, yet retain stickers and labels. (Disclaimer: in untrained hands, dry ice blasting can remove stickers unintentionally. Make sure you never use untrained operators.)  Interestingly, if you wanted to remove that pesky sticker on the side of your silo, dry ice blasting can do that too – the pressure just has to be adjusted to suit your goals.  


4. Glass

 No jokes: dry ice blasting will not mark glass windows, panes, gauges or screens. Think of throwing snow at your car window screen – you get the picture. Again, in the hands of an untrained operator, the ultra-low temperature of dry ice blasting, -78°C, can cause problems with glass. So do engage an experienced contractor please!


5. Plastics

 All those metres and metres of plastic conveyor and guides, all those knobs and handles and feet, all those switches, all those plastic covers and panels, dry ice blasting can clean them all without leaving a mark. Think of the time you’ll save over against manual scrubbing.


6. Nozzles

 Glue and ink nozzles are notorious for getting a heavy build-up of said glue or ink all around them. But these are sensitive components.  Get your blasting gun away from them, you say. Good news folks – put down your scrubbing brushes. The hours and hours of manually cleaning these components with solvents and/or hot water are gone. Dry ice blasting is aggressive enough to remove this build-up without any damage to the sensitive nozzles.


7. Electrical components

Now, this is simply amazing. In the right hands, dry ice blasting can clean all over and around electrical components, wiring, sensors and inside electrical cabinets. And that’s not all; it can do this LIVE!

Forget spending hours covering up sensitive components. Forget having to leave insides of electrical cabinets dirty. Forget having to manually clean in sensitive areas.

Dry ice blasting has just made your life much, much easier.

Sure, in untrained hands, dry ice blasting can cause problems with the sensitive surfaces listed above.  Despite that, dry ice blasting stands head and shoulders above all other blasting methods as being non-abrasive.  

If you need a little more cleaning effect than elbow grease, hot water or solvents can give you, yet you don’t ant to mark or damage the plant you are cleaning, talk to your local dry ice blasting contractor.  

Want our help with this? Learn more about dry ice blasting here.  


9. Deep clean in place

Three of the common hassles with deep cleaning your plant include:

  • Dismantling your plant and getting it outside your critical hygiene zone
  • Losing the first few hours of off-production time waiting for the plant to cool down
  • Spending an hour or two covering up all sensitive equipment before cleaning can commence

Wouldn’t it be great to have a method of deep cleaning that avoided all these hassles?

Dry ice blasting in place solves these problems. Here are three benefits of dry ice blasting in place:


1. No cool down required

As soon as production stops, dry ice blasting can commence. Remember when I talked about thermal shock in Benefit #7?

Even more amazing: dry ice blasting can sometimes be done while the plant is still live!


2. No protection required for sensitive equipment

 Traditional cleaning methods, especially pressure washing, can damage sensitive electrical components and seals, so time and resources are required to cover them all up before cleaning.  Dry ice blasting allows you to commence cleaning as soon as production stops.  No sensitive equipment will be harmed during dry ice blasting, because zero water is involved, only 100-150 psi of pressure is used, and the cleaning media has the abrasiveness of a snowflake.  


3. No secondary waste is introduced to food contact areas

Because zero water, chemicals, abrasives or fibres are used in the cleaning process, you can restart production immediately after dry ice blasting is finished. There is no foreign matter introduced, and no cleaning residue. The build up that you are cleaning off simply falls to the ground where it can be vacuumed, swept up or rinsed away.

As always, to get these results you need to enlist a skilled operator.  

Wanting to deep clean in place? Learn more about dry ice blasting here.  


10. Odour-free cleaning

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Sodium hypochlorite creates a strong odour when cleaning.

In food production, odour can be as big of a food safety risk as foreign matter, especially in more inert products such as milk powder.  

Let’s picture some common cleaning situations:

  • For heavy build ups of glues, oils, inks and greases, organic solvents are often used.
  • For heavy build ups of proteins and fats, sodium hypochlorite, with support of alkaline cleaners, is often used.  Sodium hypochlorite has a very strong odour.
  • For sanitising food surfaces where Quats (Quaternary Ammonium Compounds) are forbidden, traditionally sodium hypochlorite or isopropyl alcohol (IPA) are used.

These chemicals are effective cleaning and sanitising agents, but they all create the secondary issue of odour contamination of food product.

Dry ice blasting cleans and sanitises equally as well (or better) as traditional chemicals, without creating any odour issues.  This method uses frozen food-grade CO2 gas pellets as the cleaning media.  CO2¬ is odourless, hence is can be used around any sensitive food products.  

Interested in odour-free cleaning? Learn more about dry ice blasting here.  


Summary

Dry ice blasting is an awesome cleaning method for so many applications. Learn more about our dry ice blasting service here.


1https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases#:~:text=Carbon%20dioxide%20(CO2)%20is,gas%20emissions%20from%20human%20activities.