Cecil

Anybody build a dry ice machine?

36 posts in this topic

In my business of shipping frozen fish, UPS is killing me with extra pick up fees (at least four) that for a small parcel can almost be as much as the shipping itself. Recently the shipping charge for a small box 14 inches X 9 inches X 6 inches and only 3.5 lbs. was $15.08 for a destination in the same state 2 hours away. I could live with that, but the four extra pick fees came to another $13.58. Pick up fee charge, rural surcharge, residential surcharge, and fuel surcharge. Having an account doesn't seem to help. I've become so fed up with the gouging I am going strictly USPS where there is no pick up fee and the shipping costs are much less. The same box for the same service with the Post Office was $8.34! 

 

I'm in a rural area and the nearest drop off place is at least 15 miles away with the nearest distribution center 40 miles away. Not a good option for a sole proprietor.

 

I also tire of talking with people in other countries for customer service that I have a hard time understanding. It irks me that my fellow Americans don't get those jobs so they can pay these people pennies on the dollar. 

 

Anyway, the problem with switching to USPS (The postal system) is once in a long while the box gets delayed. I have used dry ice with good success, but the nearest dry ice supplier is over 40 miles away. I've seen where one can purchase the machines, but it appears to be a simple process to make a machine. Appears to be simply C02 under pressure to produce the cakes? 

 

Thoughts? 

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We're on UPS "Smart Pickup" so we get one pickup per day (as needed) for $11.50/week... if we don't have a label printed (or manually click "request a pickup") by 3 pm then the system kicks us out for that day - no pickup.  We also get one "free" air/international pickup request per day that we can use if we happen to miss the cut-off time for the ground packages.  With automatic daily pickup, we would get dinged (I think) $29 on weeks where we didn't ship enough to satisfy UPS... including "short" weeks with holidays or if we were closed for vacation or something.

 

We also use Stamps.com for USPS postage.  I think it costs $15.99/month but I like their postage program much better than USPS.com so we use it.

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That sounds like it works well for you but my shipping is pretty much seasonal and I don't feel I should even be charged that weekly fee. 

 

I see UPS lost a billion dollars in business from Amazon as Amazon was ticked that they were late on shipments during the Christmas season. All my boxes from Amazon come via USPS or Fed Ex now. 

 

Just not a big fan of corporations gouging people and we have too many oligopolies and monopolies in this country so they do as they wish. Sure wish congress would quite the partisan bullshit and start doing their job. 

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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Well, there is some cost for them to have the truck stop and the driver come in to get the packages and load them up; I guess I would rather pay a fixed $11.50 than a higher rate that would cost more the more we ship?

 

Anyway, I do use some CO2 here.  It costs $21 to fill the little tank (about 15" high x 5" dia) about the size of a 10# fire extinguisher.  A 50# cylinder costs $44 to refill; but I would just guess you might get 25# - 30# of dry ice due to what gasses off while you're doing it?

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They go by here twice a day! I know a business needs to make money but nickel and diming me to death or a weekly fee doesn't sit well with me when pick up is free with the Post Office.  I used to take credit cards but stopped as hardly anyone here wants to use them and the bank was charging me a fee whether I used the machine or not.  Pee on them. They make a lot of money off both the credit car user and the businesses. 

 

That would be awesome if I got that much ice out of that size tank! 

 

I was afraid it was like the oxygen cylinder of the same size I use where I a fill 7 or 8 bags of water and oxygen with fish and the tank is empty! 

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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I think that might do the trick.  I thought they were more expensive than that. 

 

Thanks! 

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You're welcome, hope it works out.

 

FWIW, I just now sent a 1# 9oz package to Miami, Florida (from Wisconsin) so I ran it both (3) ways:  

 

UPS Ground was $9.89; they pick it up and it arrives Tuesday.

 

USPS.com Priority 2-day was $10.25 but arrives Saturday (Monday because it's a business address) and Stamps.com Priority Mail 2-day was $8.92 also arriving Saturday (Monday)... but I have to drive to the post office or pay $20 versus having UPS pick-up here.  (We don't have regular mail delivery, so no free pick-up from USPS apparently).

 

Not saying any of them is necessarily great, but UPS isn't any worse than USPS.  And, my intent isn't to start an arguement because I have plenty of issues with UPS... from losing/damaging packages to charging me extra because after they smash the package it becomes over-size!

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No argument from me. You have been very helpful. 

 

I forgot to add one more thing that irritated me about UPS though.  :sword:   Even though I weighed my boxes via a certified scale, and the boxes are standard size boxes I order myself, many times their "audit" said my boxes weighed more and were larger in size.   I can see were some of them may have bulged a little but not all of them. And my certified scale is very accurate. As far as I am concerned another gouge to bring in extra money. 

 

And I stopped sending fragile items UPS a long time ago. Even with a wooden frame and the item screwed onto the wooden frame they still managed to crush or break things. It's almost as if they were trying as hard as they could.  Never had that issue with USPS. 

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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We have the same problem, however every single time in the past 18 years that I have actually called and disputed their "audit"... they have dropped the adjusted charge.  I don't call if the $$$ is less than the time to make the call is worth and I suppose they bank on that,,, but they have been good about the ones I called about. 

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We have the same problem, however every single time in the past 18 years that I have actually called and disputed their "audit"... they have dropped the adjusted charge.  I don't call if the $$$ is less than the time to make the call is worth and I suppose they bank on that,,, but they have been good about the ones I called about. 

 

 

Did you talk to someone from Mexico or Puerto Rico? 

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No, not that I could tell... Atlanta maybe?

 

I don't like that, when fuel prices dropped by 50%... there was still a "fuel surcharge" on my bill (I mean, they knew they were going to have to use some fuel when they set the rates, right?) and I get tired of having to "verify" every detail of our account every single time I call; but overall they do a pretty good job.  :cool:

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if it works for you that's great. I'm done with them. 

 

I heard Amazon may start up their own shipping company. It would be great to see some competition!

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I haven't done the numbers but my best guesstimate is it is not possible to get a theoretical yield of better than 50% weight co2 liquid to dry ice by gassing of the excess heat.

 

essentially you need a co2 cylinder with a dip tube in it so that it extracts liquid, a valve to control the flow, a nozzle and an expansion cone to slow the gas and allow the heat transfer. The more ambient heat gets at it the worse the yield, I doubt those little blockmaking jobbies could do better than 20%.

 

i would favor a simple snowcone with no hose just screwed to the cylinder and just use an insulated sleeve to guide the snow down into a polystyrene box. it would also help a lot to precool everything in a chest freezer for a day or so, that would get you closer to 35-38%

 

50 pound cylinder will empty in under 2 minutes and hopefully give you 12-15 pound of dry ice

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Thanks Yahoo!

 

I'm shipping from the state of Indiana to North Carolina tomorrow Priority Mail. Supposed to get there in 3 days. I am adding ice packs that are supposed to last longer than ice for added insurance. They weigh less than ice too. Bought four for a dollar each at Dollar General. I will buy a box at cheaper rate from the link DavidWI gave me for future shipments. 

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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Well, there is some cost for them to have the truck stop and the driver come in to get the packages and load them up; I guess I would rather pay a fixed $11.50 than a higher rate that would cost more the more we ship?

 

Anyway, I do use some CO2 here.  It costs $21 to fill the little tank (about 15" high x 5" dia) about the size of a 10# fire extinguisher.  A 50# cylinder costs $44 to refill; but I would just guess you might get 25# - 30# of dry ice due to what gasses off while you're doing it?

 

Actually according to the literature for a dry ice machine I just looked at, it takes a 75 lb. cylinder (or was it 50 lbs.?) to produce 5 or 6 one kg. blocks of dry ice. Not sure it it's cost effective to produce my own dry ice at that rate. A block of dry I ice I'm guess at a kilogram costs me just under $8.00. 

 

It also says reducing the ambient temperature will allow one to produce up to 1/3rd more dry ice. 

 

Will be making a run to grocery store 40 minutes away today to pick up dry ice. Need to ship a box to Arizona and Minnesota from Indiana today. Since I no longer use UPS I'd feel better with the dry ice in case there is a delay. 

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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Yeah, not if these recommendations are correct... 25# of dry ice to ship 5# of food in 3 days?  http://www.polar-tech.com/dry_ice_guide_table.htm

 

I thought it was more like 1# dry ice per 1# of food.   :(

 

Perhaps that is without insulation? Still seems excessive.

 

I used a couple pounds of dry ice to ship several bluegills to Texas from Indiana in two days and most of the fish were still frozen when they got there. 

 

Learned something today. Made the mistake of sealing a chunk of dry ice in a ziplock bag, and temporarily put it into an insulated box while I worked on packing another one. I'm working away and suddenly a bang like a gun shot behind me! Apparently the zip lock bag that was sealed burst from the C02 build up.  From now on I'll leave the bags open. I also made a hole in the boxes on each top corner with a ballpoint pen to allow C02 to escape. 

 

BTW found in writing at a USPS site that dry ice is fine for domestic ground and domestic air as long it's kept under 5 lbs. (Can go over 5 lbs. for ground only). One of my postal clerks thought it was a no no. She's wrong. I told one of the clerks about it and she said, " that's good to know." 

 

And more good news: My other Meijer's that sells dry ice is only 26 miles away vs. over 40 with the previous one. I can handle that drive one day a week as I ship all my frozen fish on a Monday. 

 

Another advantage with USPS is I don't have to have the box ready to ship until late afternoon vs. UPS pick up that can be anywhere from 9 A.M. to 1 or 2 P.M. And of course the Post Office is right in town and I could have pick up for free if I wanted it. 

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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349.233 Dry Ice Mailability

Dry ice is permitted to be mailed when it is used as a refrigerant to cool the content of a mailable hazardous or nonhazardous material. Packages containing dry ice must be packed in containers that permit the release of carbon dioxide gas and conform to 49 CFR 173.217 and 175.10(a)(10). Mailpieces containing dry ice are subject to the following conditions, as applicable:

Note: A mailpiece that is prepared for surface transportation must not, under any circumstances, be routed via air transportation.

 

  1. International Mail. Dry ice is prohibited.

Domestic Mail via Air Transportation. Dry ice is permitted in quantities of up to 5 pounds per mailpiece. Mailpieces containing dry ice are subject to the conditions for Packaging Instruction 9A in Appendix C, as applicable.

Domestic Mail via Surface Transportation. A mailpiece sent via surface transportation may contain more than 5 pounds of dry ice. Mailpiece preparation is subject to the conditions for Packaging Instruction 9A in Appendix C.

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I'm not sure, reading their site they recommend 1.5" to 3" insulation, but there are 3 levels of "frozen" for food items in their info.

 

They claim up to 47% yield with their machine.

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I saw that. 

 

Here is how I insulate my shipping boxes. 

 

I purchase 1.5 inch white foam 14 X 48 inch board from a big box store (Menards). I get six pieces for about $15.00.

 

IMG_1318_zpsenkux1av.jpg

 

I custom cut it with a hot knife gun. Here you can see a bottom and foam board around the inside of the box.

 

IMG_1316_zpscr1dogpr.jpg

 

 

Both the bottom and the top lid have 1.5 inches of foam.

 

 IMG_1317_zpsaqbpzqay.jpg

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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Cool.   :cool:

 

They have a note about "packing" the dry ice firmly and filling any remaining voids with packing material to reduce sublimation and make the dry ice last longer.

 

But, I'm out of my depth here... no point in me just quoting them.  I really thought the "yield" would be over 50% in any sort of contraption that was actually designed to produce dry ice.   :(

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Not surprised on my part. I was really disappointed on how quickly one can empty a cylinder of oxygen when filling oxygen bags for fish transport. 

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Shipped a 1 lb. 4 oz. bluegill and a 1 lb. 12 oz. yellow perch in an insulted box as in post # 21 Monday USPS to Arizona from Indiana. I put in a half a brick of dry ice (about a pound) and packed the air spaces with paper. When the fish arrived today (Wednesday) they were still frozen according to the receiver. 

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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So dry ice is just being used to transport dead fish to help stay cold or do you ship live fish that go into suspended animation so the don't breathe to much and die before arrival?

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