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Dry Ice Blasting: The Indoor Solution

Dry Ice Blasting: The Indoor Solution

(Pages 20-21 of the May 2012 eClean Magazine)

View the pdf file: Dry Ice Blasting: The Indoor Solution

by Paul Horsley, Publisher

There are numerous types of abrasive blasting options available for industrial use today. Growing in popularity is the use of dry ice blasting as a way to remove the toughest dirt and grime from a wide range of indoor surfaces. This fairly new alternative to other popular options, such as sandblasting, has truly changed the face of the power cleaning industry by providing a way to achieve the same results, but with a much lower impact.


Dry ice blasting consists of rice-sized pellets of carbon dioxide accelerated at supersonic speeds toward a contaminated surface. The pellets power through the contaminant and, once striking the underlying surface, create mini explosions that lift off the contaminants.

Compared to sandblasting, the impact on the underlying surface is minimized because the pellets released by the dry ice blast are much softer than grains of sand. Sandblasting tends to score the surface whereas dry ice blasting is completely nonabrasive.

This state-of-the-art process also minimizes waste because shortly after hitting the surface, the pellets evaporate into carbon dioxide gas. This is in contrast to sandblasting, which results in leftover grains of sand that must be removed.


Dry ice cleaning has proven very versatile in its application due to its gentleness and lack of waste or runoff. A wide range of industries employ dry ice blasting, from the aircraft, automotive and transport industries to numerous others that require more sensitive cleaning methods due to their presence in protected indoor environments. The following list of industries highlights the assortment of uses for this innovative process, along with its adaptability to each business’s individual cleaning needs:

Food and beverage. The food and beverage industry is an obvious candidate for the dry ice cleaning method simply because of its need for safe and non-toxic cleaning. The buildup of food waste and grease that can collect over time is no match for a dry ice blast, which will leave equipment in a pristine and sterile condition.

Foundry. With dry ice cleaning, the typical hazardous waste that is produced within this industry can be greatly reduced by the regular removal of excess grease, dust, ink or carbon from production equipment. Additionally, the production schedule will never be impacted due to a planned cleaning.

Historical restoration projects. Because of the immense sensitivity of historical restoration projects, this nonabrasive technique has received much praise since becoming more prevalent for this use over recent years. Historians can now breathe easier as they attempt to restore items and buildings back their original look and grandeur.

Packaging equipment. When production in a packaging plant must be halted for cleaning, management can expect a negative impact to the bottom line. Dry ice cleaning is especially appealing for cleaning wax or clay buildup on the critical machinery in a packaging plant, because the process doesn’t require taking machinery offline and won’t interfere with production schedules.

Plastics. In addition to allowing production to continue with no interruptions, dry ice blasting also meets the detailed cleaning requirements of the plastics industry. Molds, extruder screws, mold machines, ovens and mixers can all be thoroughly cleaned without leaving any secondary waste that is common when using the sandblasting technique.

Pulp and paper. The intricate nature of the equipment and machinery involved in the pulp and paper industry makes dry ice cleaning the preferred method of power cleaning, as it allows equipment to be cleaned “as is,” with no disassembly. Furthermore, the dirt, soot, grease and oil buildup removed via a dry ice blast can constitute a safety risk if not cleaned regularly.

The true allure of dry ice blasting lies in its simplicity. There are many benefits to choosing this 100 percent environmentally friendly method for your power cleaning needs – one of which being that your business and its workforce will remain entirely operational when the dry ice blast service is being performed. This fact can translate into savings of thousands of dollars when factoring in the usual downtime that is needed for more conventional methods of power cleaning.

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