What is dry ice blasting, and what is it good for? Dry ice blasting has several names, including CO2 blasting, dry ice cleaning, and just simply ice blasting. Ice blasting, or CO2 blasting, was first patented in 1955 as a method of cleaning and polishing. It is a very efficient and cost-effective way to clean or prepare a surface.
How Does CO2 Blasting Work?
CO2 blasting uses three effects to thoroughly scour a surface of contaminants of all kinds. Dry ice is just the solid form of carbon dioxide at a temperature of -79°C. The dry ice is pushed through a pressurized stream of air directly at the surface to be cleaned. The stream of air is compressed to between 80 and 90 psi. The method is somewhat similar to sandblasting, or soda blasting, but unlike these methods, it leaves no chemical residue. Unlike cleaning something with water, cleaning with CO2 blasting leaves no moisture that could facilitate the growth of any sort of contaminant.
What Is CO2?
CO2, or carbon dioxide, is a naturally occurring gas that makes up approximately 0.05% of our atmosphere. CO2 is 40% heavier than the air that we breathe and is generally quite harmless. Changes in atmospheric conditions can make it dangerous, however, if a CO2 blasting area does not have proper ventilation and a large amount of CO2 should pool in a particular area.
CO2 can be toxic. If levels of CO2 in the air rise to 3 to 5% this can cause a person to experience headaches and rapid breathing. If levels rise to 7 to 12%, these symptoms become worse and the person may become unconscious. At levels higher than 12%, a person can easily suffocate. Despite the dangers of CO2 in high concentrations, a properly ventilated dry ice blast cleaning area is perfectly safe.
When is CO2 Blasting Preferable?
Dry ice cleaning has unique benefits over other types of cleaning. CO2 blasting is environmentally friendly, and no secondary contaminants like solvents or grit can get into whatever is being cleaned. Dry ice blasting is also not abrasive, is nonflammable, and does not conduct electricity. CO2 blasting does not damage mechanical or electrical parts, nor does it create any fire hazards. Yet it is strong enough to remove contaminants like paints, oils, bacteria, and even biofilms. Furthermore, it is safe for use in the food industry, and carbon dioxide as a liquefied gas is inexpensive and easy to store at a work site.
Why is Dry Ice Cleaning Important to the Food Industry?
The CDC reports that every year one in six people in the United States will become sick because of a contaminated food or beverage. This makes it imperative to prioritize the proper cleaning of everything associated with food packaging. There are three types of contaminants that can render food unsafe. The first is physical contaminants. These include things like hair or dirt. The second kind of contaminant is biological. Biological contaminants include microorganisms such as viruses or bacteria. Finally, food can be contaminated by chemical hazards, such as cleaning materials or pesticides. Dry ice cleaning is capable of removing most of these contaminants and is an excellent way to clean food processing equipment.
Dry ice cleaning services represent a viable and environmentally sustainable cleaning method for the food industry and many other industries, as well. It is safe, easy, inexpensive, does not damage machines or pose a hazard to workers as long as proper ventilation is installed, and is capable of cleaning without leaving any sort of residue behind.
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