How to Properly Pack and Insulate Your Shipments With Ice and Cold Packs

How to Properly Pack and Insulate Your Shipments With Ice and Cold Packs

Using cold packs to keep your items cool during shipping is the best way to ensure they arrive safely. Many of these packs contain a chemical mixture including hydroxyethyl cellulose and sodium polyacrylate (those beads we all know say ‘do not eat’).

These ice-free refrigerants have fewer shipping restrictions than dry ice and are perfect for food, pharmaceuticals, and medical samples. They can also be reused.


Choose the Right Size Container

Whether you’re shipping a steak from your local butcher or a dozen apples from your farm, proper packaging and insulation are vital in keeping your items fresh. Use an online shipping calculator to calculate the dimensions of your product and select a container that fits.

Consider the size of your product and the time it will spend in transit when deciding on a container. Small enough, you will pay for space you don’t need; too small, your products might shift during transport and become damaged.

Choose a container that is as insulated as possible to reduce heat transfer and maximize the time your products stay cold. Styrofoam cut sheets and liners are great options for insulating your containers, but you can also opt for other materials like bubble wrap or foam spacers.

Gel packs are a good option for refrigerating your products in addition to dry ice, especially when the items aren’t required to be frozen. These ice and cold packs for shipping are easy to handle and have fewer shipping restrictions than dry ice. They also dethaw much faster and can be reused.

Avoid direct contact between your gel packs and the products they will be cooling, as this can cause unintended freezing. Protect gel packs by creating a buffer with packaging materials like cardboard dividers and foam spacers.

Prep Your Items

When shipping perishables, you must ensure your item stays cold for the duration of its journey. It will prevent it from spoiling and ensure the item arrives pristine. For this, it is crucial to use the proper insulated packaging materials. Includes using an insulated liner for your container and ice/cold packs.

Dry and gel ice packs effectively maintain chilled temperatures in your shipment. However, each option has its benefits and drawbacks. Dry ice has the advantage of maintaining a frozen temperature for extended periods, but it is also more hazardous to handle and requires special labeling requirements. In addition, dry ice can leave residue in the container it is shipped in, so using an insulated liner is a must.

Gel ice packs are a safer and more convenient alternative to dry ice. These ice packs are made of a non-toxic, water-based material that expands when submerged in water and freezes at a lower temperature than dry ice. They are reusable, do not leak, and can be cut to your chosen size. In addition, gel ice packs do not leave any residual moisture in the container and can be used to maintain temperatures for up to 48 hours. However, they can only maintain a temperature below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and are not an ideal solution for foods such as meat that must be kept refrigerated.

Place the Packs Inside

Ice and cold gel packs effectively maintain refrigerated temperatures for temperature-sensitive goods during shipping. These are non-toxic, leak-resistant, and available in various sizes to suit various shipments. However, they may be less effective for longer trips or extreme temperatures and can add additional weight to the package, impacting shipping costs.

Another option is to use phase change material (PCM), which has the unique property of transitioning between solid, liquid, and gas depending on the temperature it is exposed to. It can effectively control the temperature for the entire shipment, offering better temperature stability than dry ice or gel packs. It is also more environmentally friendly and does not require special handling or disposal processes.

Insulated foam containers and box liners can help with your temperature control packaging needs, as they are lightweight and cost-effective. They are available in various sizes to fit most standard shipping containers and can be customized to the size of your payload for added protection.

When shipping items containing dry ice, adequately insulate the inner Styrofoam cooler and outer box with insulating foam or other insulation. It is essential to leave a space for expansion and venting of carbon dioxide gases as they evaporate from the ice and turn to liquid condensation.


Any item that can spoil if not kept cold or frozen will benefit from using ice or cold packs in transit. It includes meat, cheese, dairy products, pharmaceuticals, flowers, and cooked meals.

Gel ice packs are the backbone of insulated shipping, offering reliability and ease of use at lower costs than dry ice. They can be placed in the bottom of a cooler and work as an effective insulator to help maintain temperatures while in transit, protecting from temperature fluctuations.

They are easily adjusted and can be reinserted in a container during transit. They can also be used with insulated containers and foam or plastic liners to provide additional insulation and cooling capability.

Another excellent option for refrigeration is the insulated bubble roll. It provides reliable protection for your items during shipment while preventing damage caused by shifting and impact. It also acts as a moisture barrier, reducing condensation and odors.

When using insulated bubble wrap or other liners, ensure the lining is not too tight. As a result, there may be less airflow, which might raise the temperature inside the packaging and perhaps cause spoiling. For this reason, it’s best to use a liner large enough to fit over the entire contents of y

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