Dry ice can be a great tool when you’re shipping items that need to stay frozen. There are, however, a number of precautions and procedures to follow when shipping dry ice. We’ll run through everything you need to know about shipping dry ice with USPS here so you don’t get burned.
Choose the Right Packaging to Ship Dry Ice
First, the fun part – pop on some goggles and gloves. Hell, even an apron might be the way to roll here. Now that you’re decked out like Bill Nye, you’re ready to pack your shipment!
Make sure to keep the ice separate from what you’re shipping, as the dry ice should never actually come into contact with your items. You’ll want to put the dry ice around your items to ensure that they’re properly cooled throughout transit. This will all need to go into a polystyrene container (at least 2 inches thick), with an absorbent liner to prevent any leaks.
Basically, the polystyrene container should also hold any moisture and condensation that might crop up during shipping, and the outer box should be taped securely. However, you should never put dry ice in an airtight container! If the package can’t release carbon dioxide from the dry ice, it could cause pressure to build up until the package bursts. We’re definitely not looking to blow up any products or special items you’re shipping. So, make sure to seal the package to prevent any leaks, but do not make it air-tight.
Pro Tip: You’ll definitely want to take some extra steps with shipping meats and perishables, so be sure to read up on those needs as well while you’re planning for your shipments.
Mark Your Shipment Accordingly
USPS requires a couple of different things on the outside of your packaging if you’re shipping something containing dry ice:
- Write “Dry Ice” or “Carbon Dioxide Solid” clearly on the shipment
- Add on a UN 1845 label
- Write the contents of the shipment near the label
- Write the net weight of the dry ice in kilograms (it’s about 2.205 pounds to a kilogram)
- Make sure that the name and address of the shipper, as well as the name and address of the recipient are also clearly visible
- Write “Surface Mail Only” on shipments containing more than 5 pounds of dry ice
It seems like a lot, but this will ensure that the package is shipped as safely as possible. Once you have all of those markings on that package, you’re ready to ship!
Choose the Right Service to Ship Your Dry Ice
To ship dry ice with USPS, you’ll have a couple different options, based on the speed at which you’d like your package to arrive, as well as how much dry ice is in your shipments.
For the following services, you can only ship up to 5 pounds of dry ice in each package:
- Priority Mail Express
- Priority Mail
- First Class Package Service (only with Commercial Services)
Any shipments containing more than 5 pounds of dry ice will need to ship with one of these services:
- Parcel Select Ground/USPS Retail Ground
Always make sure that you’re shipping your package out with enough dry ice to keep the items at the right temperature up until the shipment is delivered. You can always check the USPS Service Commitments to check out when your items will arrive, and plan accordingly.
Use Online Shipping Software to Save the Most Money on Your Packages
At the end of the day, all the packaging and materials needed for shipping dry ice can get pretty expensive…but we won’t leave you hanging! You’ll save a ton of cash by purchasing discounted postage through online shipping software, where you can get the lowest commercial rates available through USPS.
When you use shipping software to buy postage online, you’ll be able to save the most money on your shipping labels, avoid lines at the Post Office, and even schedule free, contactless pickups done by your local letter carrier. In this particular case, all of that freedom and control means you’ll be able to keep your items ice cold up until the moment they get shipped out. Talk about chilling!
In Case You Get Cold Feet, Here’s the Important Stuff
Yeah, shipping dry ice with USPS is a ton to think about—but it’s not so bad once you start. Basically, all you have to do is stock up on your packaging supplies, grab the documentation you’ll need, and get packing! The most important things to remember are:
- Make sure that you safely pack the shipment to prevent pressure buildup and leakage
- Double-check you’re not exceeding the maximum weight you’re allowed to include with your particular service
- Mark your package so that workers can handle it accordingly
Once you follow these three steps, you’ll be all set to ship!