FAQ’s for CO2 / Dry Ice Cleaning Services

Q: What is CO2 blasting?
A: This process uses frozen carbon dioxide pellets, fired at high speeds to clean a surface. Our CO2 Cleaning Equipment is compatible with air compressors providing between 30 and 100 PSI.

Q: How does CO2 cleaning remove contaminants?
A: Depending on the buildup that is being removed, CO2 cleaning acts in a variety of different ways. If the buildup is flaky such as old paint, the high speed dry ice pellets create a supersonic wave that literally destroys the bond between the buildup and the substrate. If the buildup is viscous like gum or grease, the high speed CO2 pellets compress and expand on impact to flush the buildup off of the surface of the equipment.

Q: How does this differ from how sandblasting works?
A: Sandblasting is a much more abrasive cleaning method than CO2 cleaning is. The risk of damaging valuable surfaces is much higher with sandblasting than CO2 cleaning.

Q: What happens to the dry ice once it strikes the surface?
A: The frozen CO2 pellets will evaporate upon contact with the substrate, eliminating the toxic waste cleanup that is common with other cleaning methods. The impact of the evaporation of the CO2 on the environment is minimal.

Q: What happens to the contaminant?
A: The dirt and grime does not disappear in the same way that the CO2 cleaning pellets do, instead it is safely removed from the surface of the machine or equipment to the floor where it can easily be vacuumed or swept up. Unlike other cleaning methods, the leftover residue is non-toxic and easily manageable, reducing cleanup time and waste removal costs.

Q: Does the process damage the substrate?
A: Each CO2 cleaning job is unique and customized based on the individual surface needing to be cleaned. As long as the bond holding the dirt to the substrate is weaker than the substrate itself, there is a CO2 cleaning solution that can effectively be applied. CO2 cleaning has been proven to be effective on soft, fragile materials such as plastics, copper wiring and even fabrics, but each job will be examined on a case by case basis.

Q: Can CO2 clean “hot” or in-use machines?
A: CO2 cleaning works best when the surfaces are hot. The chemical bonds holding the dirt to the substrate grow weaker as the temperature increases. Other methods such as sand or soda blasting can leave behind particles that will eventually bond with the machinery once it cools down, however CO2 cleaning leaves behind no residue, thus eliminating this risk.

Q: Does the CO2 cool the substrate?
A: The CO2 ice pellets generally cool down the surface they are striking, but never enough to affect performance. Depending on the thickness of the substrate, the temperature difference before and during the CO2 cleaning can drop between 25 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Q: Will the process create condensation?
A: Depending on the thickness of the substrate you are cleaning, there can be condensation, although very rare. Since CO2 cleaning can be performed on “hot” machines, the risk of condensation is very minimal. Each individual project, however, is evaluated for the risk of condensation and different methods may be applied to reduce the risk in moisture sensitive environments.

Q: Does block dry ice have advantages over pellets?
A: The main advantage that blocks of dry ice have over dry ice pellets is that the pellets melt faster. Beyond that, the advantages of block dry ice are minimal. Machines that use dry ice pellets are easier to operate and maintain compared to those that use block dry ice.

Q: Are there differences in the cleaning effectiveness of dry ice pellets vs. the granules produced by the SDI-5?
A: Most of the time, the differences between granules and CO2 pellets is not noticeable. They each have their strengths and weakness, however, and therefore making one better for a job than the other in some cases. Pellets perform better against thick, viscous buildup since their larger mass can penetrate the buildup and remove it from the substrate. The higher number of surface impacts generated by the granules makes them better suited for removing flaky buildup.

Q: How did the technology for CO2 cleaning originate?
A: CO2 cleaning, began out of necessity as Lockheed-Martin engineers were looking for a way to effectively remove paint from old aircraft. Once the process patents and licenses were purchased from Lockheed-Martin in 1987, the CO2 cleaning process became commercially available.

Q: What is the ideal air pressure needed to operate the CO2 cleaning machinery?
A: Typical CO2 cleaning jobs are just fine using compressors with 130 CFM and 90 PSI. The nozzles used on our Cold Jet™ are all interchangeable and are designed to maximize the use of available air pressure.

Q: What are the best CO2 cleaning applications?
A: The nature of CO2 cleaning allows it to be used on nearly all surfaces and machine parts without causing any abrasion or other damage. CO2 cleaning has been successful in the cleaning of foundry equipment, delicate wiring, electronic apparatus, conveyer systems in the food packaging and pharmaceutical industry, and decontamination in the nuclear industry.

Q: How is dry ice blasting used in foundries?
A: CO2 cleaning has proven to be very effective in cleaning foundry equipment such as molds and core boxes.

Q: What are some successful rubber molding applications?
A: Almost all major tire manufacturers use CO2 cleaning in their rubber molds. Shoe companies as well as gasket and other small rubber companies have successfully been using CO2 cleaning as part of their routine machine maintenance.

Q: How is CO2 cleaning used in the food industry?
A: Since carbon dioxide is found in many of the food products we consume on a daily basis, CO2 cleaning is a perfectly safe and sanitary method of cleaning machinery and packaging equipment.

Q: What are some examples of applications where CO2 cleaning does not work well?
A: CO2 cleaning is not as effective as other methods when cleaning small individual pieces of machinery. Also, the CO2 cleaning method generally requires that the area to be cleaned is visible to the machine operator. Any areas that cannot be easily seen are going to be harder to clean.

Q: Can CO2 be used to remove paint?
A: CO2 cleaning is a very effective method of removing paint from all substrates, however, depending on the individual substrate, the thickness of the paint and the adhesive bond of the paint to the substrate, the time needed to properly remove the paint using CO2 cleaning can vary greatly.

Q: Will CO2 remove greases, oils, or weld slag?
A: CO2 cleaning will efficiently remove grease, oil and other fluid buildup from your machines, however, extra cleanup may be required. It is always a good idea to have a collection plan for the grease and oil as it is blasted away from the substrate, that way you can easily vacuum or hose it out once the buildup is removed.

Q: Can CO2 cleaning be used to remove rust?
A: CO2 cleaning is powerful enough to remove most buildup, but is gentle enough to keep the substrate intact. Because of this, CO2 cleaning is not ideal for removing rust since most rust is closely bonded with the substrate.

Q: Will CO2 clean glass?
A: Depending on the bonding level of the dirt with the glass, the pressure needed to break the bond might be more than the glass can take, causing it to shatter. Although CO2 cleaning will clean glass in some cases, it is not guaranteed to clean all types of glass.<

Q: Can CO2 be used to clean wood?
A: CO2 cleaning is very effective on wood and is in fact one of the leading methods of mold remediation today. The gentle nature of CO2 cleaning makes it less abrasive than sandblasting and an ideal method of cleaning wood.

Q: Does CO2 replace sandblasting / bead blasting / water blasting, etc.?
A: CO2 cleaning is an environmentally friendly alternative to the methods listed above, but each method has its strengths and weaknesses. However, CO2 cleaning can perform nearly all of the cleaning tasks of the methods mentioned above more effectively.

Q: What are the primary safety issues relating to the use of dry ice blasting systems?
A: The main safety issues that arise during the CO2 cleaning process are mostly related to the handling of the CO2 pellets. These pellets are often times below -100 degrees Fahrenheit and should never be handled without gloves and proper protective equipment. Furthermore, the high speeds with which the CO2 pellets are fired can be harmful if directed at an individual. Proper care should be taken to ensure that the blasting area is free of anyone not directly involved with operating the machinery.

Q: Is the CO2 cleaning system noisy?
A: Ear protection is required when operating CO2 cleaning equipment. The noise generated from the air molecules moving at supersonic speeds can generate noise in the 80-130 decibel range.

Q: Do the contaminants or dry ice particles ricochet?
A: The CO2 pellets do not pose any real risk since they evaporate on contact with the substrate. The particles being removed are often not seen or felt, however, eye protection is recommended.

Q: Is it okay to blast in an enclosed area?
A: Blasting in an enclosed area is safe, as long as there is proper ventilation at or around ground level. Open shop environments do not pose any risk of CO2 buildup in the air.

Send Us Your Questions