Industries That Use Dry Ice Blasting

Let’s talk about specifically what industries use dry ice blasting.  If you have been following this blog, you now know how dry ice works, why you would use it, and how Portland Blasting got started. The industries are numerous and varied, but here are the most popular:

Food Industry

The most beneficial industry for dry ice blasting (in my humble, but accurate opinion!) is the food industry.  No other industry takes advantage of everything dry ice has to offer like the food industry.  Let me break it down for you.  

First, food prep facilities such as bakeries and processing factories are constantly being inspected for cleanliness.  Since water is most often used for cleaning, there is the potential (and in fact, near inevitability) that any water that goes undried after a cleaning will lead to microbial growth.  Not only does dry ice avoid this whole conversation (it is ‘dry’ after all) but goes a step further by sanitizing them as well.  So you get sanitization without any water or chemicals?  Sounds like a winner to me.

Second, the food industry routinely has buildup of contaminants during their process, not only from the food, but also from the packaging and labeling equipment. It is very labor intensive to properly clean many of these machines and equipment, and in a fast-paced industry like food, time is money.  By having Portland Blasting come in and dry ice blast either during a regularly scheduled shutdown, or at night when the plant is offline, you are not losing valuable production time.  Speaking of shutdown, because dry ice is non-conductive and non-abrasive, you don’t even have to turn the machines off, let them cool down (in fact, warm substrates clean faster and better… think thermal shock!) or disassemble.  So shutdowns can be drastically shortened, allowing for more production time in any given day.  Who doesn’t want more production time?

Last, because there is no spent media or anything to clean up once the job is done, you can literally sweep or mop off the little bit of contaminant that actually makes it to the floor, and go about your business.  No disposal, no waste products!

Power Generation

Some may argue that while the food industry is a great application, it is actually the power generating industries that can best benefit from dry ice.  Because dry ice is non-conductive, transformers and other equipment can be cleaned while the power is still flowing.  While power companies don’t care about sanitization, they have a much harder and longer process turning equipment off and rerouting power elsewhere.  So the timesavings is undeniable.  Again, with no spent media once the job is done, and no impact like you have with sand or soda, dry ice can be used to clean very sensitive and delicate equipment such as circuit boards and wiring.  

Fire Restoration

One of the major uses for dry ice is in the fire restoration industry.  With dry ice’s ability to ‘one touch’ clean almost any surface, it is far superior to today’s traditional methods.  For instance, currently the most popular method of cleaning smoke and soot is with a dry or chemical sponge.  If you have ever seen that method, you know how laborious it can be.  For those that haven’t, the basics are that you start at the top, and use short strokes downward in a straight line.  You then overlap each column you clean as you go along, similar to mowing a lawn.  This means that you will touch each square inch of surface at least three times, and possibly up to ten!  

The other issue with chemical sponges is that they take off much of the soot and/or smoke, but what they don’t remove, they push further into the surface.  That is because the goal with chemical sponge cleaning is to remove what you can, and push into the surface what you can’t, so that the surface can be covered in primer.  This inefficient method requires further odor-removal activities to be effective. Contrast that with dry ice---dry ice literally blasts the contaminant from the surface with one pass.  This means that not only is dry ice 6-10 times more efficient than hand-cleaning, but nearly, if not all, of the odor is removed in the process.  In many cases, no additional odor removal techniques such as priming/backspraying are necessary.

The other method often used in fire remediation is soda blasting.  Soda blasting is a very effective method for removing smoke and soot, and it neutralizes the odor effectively as well.  But where soda falls short is in the cleanup.  If you are shooting 100-300 lbs of soda per hour while blasting, that means that for every hour of blasting, you will have 1-3 hours of cleaning.  Once a soda-blasting job is done, all of that soda has to be vacuumed and/or swept up.  Once that is done, a fine or detailed vacuum must be performed, followed by a hand wiping of all horizontal surfaces such as doorjambs and window sills.  When you add the cost of cleanup and disposal to the cost of the soda blasting itself, there really is no comparison with dry ice.  Soda pencils out to about $6.51 per foot, give or take depending on the project, whereas dry ice usually comes in at $2.92 per foot.

Other Industries

As I mentioned before, there are many industries that use dry ice blasting. We have talked about some in this post, but some other applications are mold remediation/restoration, cleaning of plastic or rubber molds, extruding equipment, electrical motors, solar panels, electrical or steam generators, printing presses, oil, pulp and paper and even nuclear waste!

Contact Us:

Portland Blasting
6705 NE 79th Court Suite 1
Portland, OR 97218
Telephone: (503) 719-6859


Very professional, quick and courteous. Matt was excellent, kept us informed every step of the way. … Read more

Eric U, West Linn