What is an Ice Blaster?
An ice blaster is a piece of cleaning equipment that uses dry ice pellets to propel at a surface and remove dirt.
Ice blast cleaning or dry ice blasting can be ideal to quickly clean an area without leaving any residue.
It’s also useful if you don’t have access to water, and if you want a more sustainable cleaning option.
What is dry ice blasting?
Dry ice blasting means using an ice blaster to carry out cleaning.
How does a dry ice blaster work?
A dry ice blaster works by propelling ice pellets at a surface at high speed.
The abrupt cooling of the surface causes thermal shock which produces cracks in the dirt which the dry ice then penetrates to remove.
Liquid carbon dioxide flows into the pressing cylinder of the pelletizer and transforms this into dry ice.
The hydraulic cylinder then compresses the dry ice and presses the it through the extruder plate where rods of dry ice are broken into pellets of 3mm.
When the dry ice is sent at high speed (150m/s) towards the surface by a high pressure gas or centrifugal accelerator, the cold (a temperature of -79 degrees centigrade) loosens contaminates.
What is a dry ice blaster used for?
A dry ice blaster is used as a method of precision cleaning.
It can be used in many industries to remove a variety of contaminates.
A dry ice blaster can be used on metal, plastic, electronic and electromechanical parts, turbines, and generators.
In addition, it is an ideal cleaning machine for all areas where cleaning with water or sand is legally prohibited.
Is dry ice blasting messy?
Dry ice blasting is not as messy as many other cleaning machines.
There is no residue apart from the dirt itself because the pellets evaporate on contact.
Benefits of ice blasting
The benefits of ice blasting include:
- No prep
You don’t need to disassemble the machine after using which means it’s ready to go when you need it again.
- Can reach awkward places
The pellets easily reach into the smallest places and the ice blaster gun helps you direct them. You can use different nozzles to suit your task which are stored in the machine for easy access.
- Minimal machine downtime
You can quickly use the machine again as it does not freeze or form condensation.
- No additional chemicals
There are no harsh or toxic chemicals needed to use an ice blaster, making it better for the health of your staff.
- No damage
Unlike other cleaning methods such as sandblasting, ice blasting does not damage surfaces.
- No residue
The pellets dissolve into carbon dioxide leaving no water waste or residue apart from the dirt. This makes it quicker to complete your cleaning tasks.
- Environmentally friendly
With no harsh chemicals and no wasted water, it is a more environmentally friendly machine.
- Quick and easy
An ice blaster is easy to use with handles on the front and rear to make it easy to transport and a simple and clear dashboard.
- Extends the life of equipment
By maintaining your expensive equipment in your workplace, you are helping to prevent breakdowns and extend the life of the appliance.
- Cuts costs
With no extra chemicals needed and no additional clean-up, an ice blaster can help you cut your cleaning costs.
With self-made pellets, you don’t need to purchase these yourself. There are models which you do need to buy dry ice pellets for but with Kärcher Hire’s range of ice blasters, this is not necessary.
Disadvantages of ice blasting
Disadvantages of ice blasting can include:
- Having to wear safety equipment
Many cleaning machines will require you to wear some sort of safety equipment whether this is googles, a helmet, or hearing protection.
If you don’t already have these items then you may need to purchase them to be able to carry out ice blasting safely which is an added expense.
Ice blasting may lead to recontamination of surfaces due to the spread of viable bacteria.
This may only happen if you do not follow the correct cleaning procedure such as moving from one side to another and following a pattern so as to not move the contaminates into the clean zone.
However this is also an issue with several other cleaning machines such as with power washers.
- While it’s not particularly a disadvantage, the pressure and carbon dioxide quantity are important for cleaning efficacy. It is also advisable to use freshly produced dry ice pellets as ones that are days old can lose density which means you need more of them to clean.
Safety precautions when using an ice blaster
While there are safety features on Kärcher ice blasters, it is also important to ensure you use it properly to avoid any issues.
Ensure you have the proper ventilation
Too much exposure to carbon dioxide can become uncomfortable and possibly cause serious health issues.
Make sure you have enough fresh air circulating.
You may also need a breathing apparatus and a carbon dioxide detector.
Ensure you have the correct safety equipment
You will need various equipment to protect yourself including googles, gloves, helmet, breathing apparatus, and a carbon dioxide detector.
A long period of skin contact with dry ice can cause frostbite and skin damage, so make sure you use gloves and cover your arms.
Features of an ice blaster
The rubber insulated nozzle avoids the ice blaster from freezing. You can remove the nozzle quickly and easily and add another type of nozzle to suit your task.
Ice blaster gun
The gun is long to let you get into hard-to-reach places. It is lightweight to ensure it is easy to reach into high spaces and continue to use for longer.
Some models have the advanced blasting gun XXL which has an integrated remote control and ice volume adjustment.
There is a mechanical lock on the gun to prevent pressing on it by accident.
Condensation caused from the oil and water separator can be drained using a tap. The oil and water prevent the blaster from freezing.
Residual ice and tank emptying
With just a push of a button, the blaster is ejected to prevent freezing.
The clear display is easy-to-read and shows the blasting pressure and ice volume which are easily adjusted.
Blasting pressure adjustment
This allows you to change the pressure for each task you undertake.
You can store nozzles, gloves, or other accessories in the ice blaster for easy access. This avoids having to carry more items which can injure your back and it avoids having to make numerous trips to stop what you are doing and travel to another area to change nozzles.
Different nozzles for your ice blaster
There are various flat nozzles which can be used from small to long, short to XXL. Some of these allow for air flow adjustment.
There are long and extra long round blasting nozzles. They both have an innovative nozzle contour to provide a high standard of cleaning.
There are also several round blasting nozzles of different sizes. These can be used for more aggressive cleaning and have a low-noise operation.
Configurable mini angled
The angled blaster is useful for confined spaces and deflects the blast about ninety degrees.
Round and flat angled
Round and flat angled nozzles are useful for small spaces.
Guide to ice blasting pressure
Very low blasting aggressiveness
If you want to clean light soiling or sensitive areas then using a 2 or 3 on the pressure is best.
This will remove dust, grease, and oil.
Low blasting aggressiveness
This is useful for light soiling such as soil, grease, adhesive residues, and rubber. A 4, 5, and 6 pressure in bar is best.
Medium blasting aggressiveness
This setting is for heavy soiling such as removing rust, cleaning of wielding tongs and other such jobs. For heavy soiling, use 7, 8, 9, and 10 pressure.
High blasting aggressiveness
Very stubborn stains such as paint will require 11, 12, or 13 in pressure.
Very high blasting aggressiveness
For the toughest of cleaning such as cleaning moulds and power plant furnaces use pressure 14, 15, and 16.
Ice blaster vs sandblaster
Is dry ice blasting better than sandblasting?
It can depend but generally an ice blaster is the better option.
Sandblasting or abrasive blasting is like an ice blaster only it uses sand instead of dry ice.
An ice blaster tends to be a better option as sandblasting can leave residue which you have to clean after you have used it, whereas an ice blaster doesn’t leave residue. The only thing that is left from ice blasting is the dirt itself.
With an ice blaster, the ice pellets dissolve into carbon dioxide but with sandblasting there is waste which takes time to clean up and can cost to remove it.
The sand from sandblasting can also damage surfaces which an ice blaster does not do.
Sandblasting is also not permitted to be used in certain circumstances. It uses silica sand which is prohibited for use by the HSE in the UK as the dust may contain respirable crystalline silica which can cause serious or fatal lung problems.
What do you need to work an ice blaster?
To work an ice blaster, you need to wear safety equipment and you should be trained in how to use the ice blaster efficiently.
When you hire from us, we train your team how to use the equipment for free.
Safety equipment you may need is:
- Hearing protection
- Safety goggles
- Helmet or visor
- Carbon dioxide detector
- Possibly breathing apparatus if there is a large amount of dust.
How to choose the right ice blaster for you
The dry ice capacity will vary with each model. For example, the Dry Ice Blaster IB 15/120 has a capacity of 40kg whereas other models will only have 15kg.
You should consider what areas or equipment you will be using the ice blaster for to ensure you don’t need to keep stopping and starting due to the amount of capacity you have.
All the models are easy to move due to the handles on the front and rear and the wheels, but you may need to store the ice blaster in a small space.
Make sure you have room to store whatever model to choose.
Some models will have storage for gloves or nozzles, but others won’t. If you work on a large site, you don’t want to carry additional things with you or have to travel to another part of the site to get these items.
It can also avoid losing these items.
How much is an ice blaster?
Dry ice blaster prices vary.
An ice blaster can cost from £2,000 up to £20,000 and possibly more.
An ice blaster is a considerable purchase especially when you may only use it periodically.
Ice blaster rental is an easier and cheaper option.
With Karcher Hire you only pay to rent our equipment for as long as you need it and for a small monthly fee you get support, training, servicing, and a replacement should you have any problems.
An ice blaster could be the perfect cleaning machine you need to speed up your cleaning and reduce your costs.
Get in contact with us today for a free quote.