Ice blasting vs dry ice blasting media cost

Comparing ICE BLASTING vs. DRY ICE BLASTING media cost: 


Approximate cost per pound

Ice: $0.00437 Dry Ice: $0.50 - $2.00

Approximate cost per hour of blasting

Ice: $0.79 - $1.31 Dry Ice: $257.40 - $429.00

Ability to obtain as much as you need

Ice: Yes – make ice on demand.

Dry Ice: Minimum order quantity of 500 lbs, when buying from supplier. Complicated and pricey to make on demand.  



Ice costs around 99.7% less than dry ice.

 That’s before any other considerations, such as the fact that:

-Dry ice sublimates during transport and storage, so a significant amount of it might be gone before you can use it

-Dry ice suppliers have minimum order quantities that may be higher than what you need

-You must order in advance to receive the dry ice on time

-Water ice can be made easily on demand, at the quantities you need



Calculating the cost of making ice:

The specification of a popular model of icemaker says that it uses 4.48 kWh and 18 gallons (68 liters) of water to generate 100 lbs (45.4 kg) of ice (it must waste a bit of water, since 100 lbs of ice should normally equal around 12 gallons of water). 

The price of electricity depends on where you are located and what your business is classified under based on your usage rate.  Coulson Ice Blast pays around $0.0906 per kWh.  Based on how much electricity the icemaker uses, that works out to 4.48*0.0906= $0.406 per 100 lbs of ice.  So that’s $0.00406 per lb ($0.00895 per kg).

Water prices also depend on location and business classification/usage rate.  Coulson Ice Blast pays around $0.45 per m3of water.  1 m3=264 US gallons.  So that means the price of water is $0.45/264= $0.0017 per gallon.  Based on the icemaker’s water usage specification to generate 100 lbs of ice, 18*$0.0017= $0.0307.  So that’s $0.000307 per pound ($0.000677 per kg).

So, adding the cost of electricity and water together, the overall ice cost is around $0.00437 per lb ($0.00963 per kg).  Even if you ran the IceStorm90 continuously at 5 lbs/min (the maximum setting), that would only be $1.31 per hour in media cost.


Calculating the cost of dry ice:

When we purchase dry ice, here at Coulson Ice Blast, the supplier we buy it from has a minimum order quantity of 500 lbs. Let’s say on average they charge $1.23 per pound.  On top of that, they charge us for shipping.  We pay around $100 in shipping costs.  So, in total, we pay a minimum of $715 every time we order dry ice.  That works out to $1.43 per pound.

In addition, we must place the order 1-2 days in advance of when we need it.

Some of the dry ice always sublimates during shipping and storage.  But, beyond that, there are times where almost all the dry ice we order goes to waste.  Perhaps we were performing a demo or doing a small cleaning job where we had no need for all 500 lbs.  Perhaps we planned on showing the technology to a client and they had to reschedule at the last minute.

These are all situations that commonly arise for anyone performing dry ice blasting. Last minute rescheduling is common, and you might suddenly be left with several thousand pounds of dry ice, costing several thousand dollars, sublimating away.

The opposite can be true as well, where a client might need your services immediately and you lose the job because they can’t afford the two day wait for you to receive dry ice media.

As a comparison, using the above calculations for water and electricity cost, 500 lbs of water ice would only cost us around $2.19.  In addition, using our icemaker, we only make as much as we need, when we need it.

Of course, it’s possible to buy a dry ice pelletizer, although they are expensive. Dry ice pelletizers can make dry ice on demand, in a shape that is suitable for blasting.  But these pelletizers must be supplied with liquefied CO2.  So you’d still be stuck buying cylinders of liquefied CO2.  Often pelletizers waste around 50%-60% of the CO2input into them, so you might need to order around twice the weight of CO2.  These CO2cylinders are under high pressure (classified as hazardous) and, considering the weight, shipping costs are high.

So, basically, no matter how you cut it, dry ice is expensive and inconvenient when compared to water ice.  Of course, dry ice blasting has its place, but ice blasting can replace it in the vast majority of applications.

This is the advantage of Coulson Ice Blast’s IceStorm90+.  It can blast with either ice or dry ice.  For most applications, you can get away with using ice and you’ll save money and hassle.  For the few other applications that require it and where the profit margin is high enough, you can use the same machine to blast, just as effectively, with dry ice.

Coulson Group