More and more industries rely on dry-ice blasting for green, effective, deep cleaning. From printing presses to automated production lines, dry-ice blasting is increasingly seen as an ideal method for cleaning commercial properties, inside and out. Many owners select dry ice blasting because it doesn’t harm the environment like other powerful cleaning methods do. Before listing the environmental benefits of dry ice blasting, let’s get a grip on how this powerful cleaning technique works.
Dry-Ice Blasting: Cleaning at the Speed of Sound
In dry-ice blasting, pellets of frozen carbon dioxide are discharged at the area being cleaned. The pellets are about the size of rice grains. As with wet/dry sandblasting and pressure washing, much of the cleaning work is done through pressure. Consider that the pellets are blasted out at the speed of sound, and you’ll understand the kind of pressure we’re talking about.
CO2 pellets contain an additional powerful cleaning agent: a change in form. As the frozen pellets hit the area being cleaned, they go immediately from a solid to a gas, skipping the liquid state altogether. This transformation lifts dirt, grease, and other gunk without pitting the underlying surface as sandblasting does.
With this basic concept of dry ice blasting under our belts, let’s take a look at how this efficacious cleaning method benefits the earth.
Environmental Benefits of Dry-Ice Blasting
1. No Release of Harmful Gases or Secondary Waste. Dry ice blasting does not release any new CO2 or other greenhouse gases. The CO2 in dry ice pellets is a natural byproduct of the petro-chemical industry. Companies won’t add to their carbon footprint with dry ice blasting, as this cleaning method makes good use of existing CO2.
No additional waste is created with the dry ice blasting process. Sand-, soda-, and even water blasting create toxic waste runoff that must be carefully disposed according to environmental regulations. Because the dry ice evaporates into the surrounding atmosphere, it doesn’t create a new form of waste. All that requires disposal is the surface grime that has been blasted loose by the dry ice pellets.
2. No Exposure to Toxic Substances. A professional power washing service’s chemical cleaning solutions may be likely noxious for workers and others nearby. Moreover, these toxic cleaning chemicals are often washed into nearby streams and rivers, poisoning downstream ecosystems. No chemical cleaning agents are required with dry-ice blasting, meaning no dangerous effect for nearby organisms.
Another form of high-powered blasting, sand blasting, creates a deadly environment for workers. When sand is blasted at dirty surfaces, crystallized silica is released into the air. Sandblasters must wear masks and self-contained air filtration systems to avoid exposing their lungs to silica. When silica is inhaled, it causes a deadly fibrous tissue to grow in the lungs. The resulting disease, silicosis, is also known as Sandblaster’s Disease, and is incurable.
The CO2 released by dry ice blasters is a natural substance that is already found in the atmosphere. It is safe to breathe, and it doesn’t poison watersheds either.
3. Preserve Water, Avoid Heating Water. Pressure washers recommend using heated water to blast away tough grime. However, compared to dry ice blasting, pressure washing requires far more water. And if the pressure washer doesn’t properly vacuum up wastewater, downstream ecosystems could be negatively impacted. Finally, with dry ice blasting you avoid the energy costs of warming up pressure washer water.
4. Extended Asset Lifespan. Eco-conscious winemakers are fond of the dry ice process, not only for the green properties listed above, but also because dry ice blasting is gentle enough to extend the life of wine barrels for an extra year or two. This not only reduces costs for the winemaker, but also minimizes unnecessary material use. Dry-ice blasting is gentle on equipment—so gentle compared to other cleaning methods that business owners often see big savings in equipment replacement costs.
5. Inhibits Mold and Bacteria Growth. The heated water that pressure washers leave behind is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and mold growth. For this reason, many food processing plants have turned to dry-ice blasting instead, which actually sanitizes 75% as it cleans. An example: the cheese industry now uses dry ice pellets to remove paraffin molds. The hot water previously used to remove paraffin was causing sanitary issues, as it encouraged bacteria growth.
Beyond these ecological concerns, business owners choose dry-ice blasting because it does not require equipment disassembly and reassembly. They also see labor savings thanks to reduced equipment breakage, and reduced downtime. Finally, dry ice blasting often requires only a fraction of the time needed for other cleaning methods. Put all these factors together and it’s obvious why so many business owners prefer dry-ice blasting over all other cleaning methods.
Paul Horsley is the president and owner of Scotts Pressure Wash. With more than fifty years of industry experience, Scotts Pressure Wash delivers high quality pressure washing results to improve a business’ bottom line. Scotts has seven pressure washing locations in Canada, with mobile fleet washing available throughout the country.