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Dry ice cleaning: how does it work? The cryogenic cleaning technique represents a tremendous advance concerning industrial cleanliness. However, it remains a mystery to many neophytes, and perhaps you are one of them. Discover in this article and this video the explanations of dry ice blasting


Dry ice blasting is an industrial cleaning technique free of all chemicals, water and abrasive products such as those used in sand blasting.
This process uses dry ice as a cleansing agent: it is carbon dioxide (CO2) in solid form, with certain characteristics that, in terms of benefits, make dry ice cleaning the method of cleanliness better than all others.

Find out below the benefits of dry ice blasting

Dry ice cleaning: how does it work?

The dry ice cleaning technique relies on the projection of dry ice pellets onto the surfaces to be cleaned.

The projection vector is compressed air (air under industrial pressure or thermal compressor). This will be done by using an ATX blaster, equipped with a firing hose, a gun, and a supersonic spray nozzle.

Loaded with kinetic energy, dry ice pellets (or dry ice) impact pollution or contaminant, causing surface pollution to be detached by:

  • mechanical shock (the pellets are charged with kinetic energy),
  • thermal shock (or thermal differential) and…,
  • sublimation or transition from solid to gaseous dry ice in a ratio of 1 to 700: dirt is then instantly removed from the support.

For more information on the cryogenic cleaning process, click at the bottom of the page on the link: Explanations of dry ice blasting.

Advantage of cryogenic cleaning: a non-abrasive process on metal

More details on the dry ice cleaning technique on the page base. Click link Explanations of dry ice blasting

Let’s compare cleanliness techniques

Traditional industrial cleaning involves the almost systematic dismantling of the machines to be treated. The cleaning of the parts is then carried out in a dedicated area.

Traditional methods are also limited when machines cannot be moved or other clean-up techniques would result in more cleaning and downtime.

As noted above, dry ice cleaning has many advantages over other traditional cleaning methods.

Let’s see which ones…

Dry ice blasting: dry cleaning

Cleaning techniques using water as a means of cleanliness, such as high-pressure cleaning, generate moisture in the treated area and require time to dry the parts so that they can be reinstalled.

Water cleaning can also cause rust, also damaging metal parts, or promoting the development of bacteria such as salmonella (or salmonella), listeria, and Escherichia coli.

Because dry ice is carbon dioxide in solid form, the cryogenic cleaning process has the advantage of being a dry and “disinfectant” cleanliness technique on the bacteria mentioned above, because of its extreme temperature that inhibits their development. The temperature of the dry ice is -80 degrees Celsius.

This is why today many agri-foods or pharmaceutical companies are equipping themselves with cryogenic cleaning machines such as ATX25 or ATX Nano, thus eliminating cross-contamination.

A quick reminder:

The media used is dry ice or so-called “dry ice” that goes from solid to gaseous without an intermediate liquid phase.

Dry ice blasting prevents the proliferation of the bacteria mentioned above, mould or the appearance of rust on metal surfaces.

Dry escalator cleaning by cryogenics

Cryogenic cleaning operation on escalator. High-pressure cleaning is impossible on this type of configuration…

Chemical-free cleaning

Chemical-using cleaning methods can not only damage parts of treated machines but can also pose a serious danger to operators as well as the environment.

In addition, the use of large quantities of chemicals involves the reprocessing of waste.

Free of any chemicals, the advantage of cryogenic cleaning is:

  • to pose no danger to users,
  • to leave no type of residue, thus saving the additional cost of the disposal of secondary waste, but above all,
  • by far the most environmentally friendly technique: dry ice sublimates on contact with the surface to be cleaned, thus returning to the gaseous or CO2 form,
  • does not require chemicals that have an impact on the ozone layer during its manufacture
  • does not generate bad odours, unlike the use of solvents…
Dirty trolley cleaned by cryogenics and solvent-free

With the projection of dry ice, even heavily clogged surfaces do not require chemicals such as solvents…

Increased productivity and profitability!

Traditional cleaning methods involve, in the vast majority of cases, stopping machines or manufacturing processes, disassembling, eventually letting the parts dry, and then reassembling the parts after cleaning them.

It goes without saying that traditional cleanliness techniques are time-consuming

Ideally, the re-cleaning phase should be fast, generate little residue, and require little or no dismantling…

Well, the time and money savings with dry ice cleaning are huge!

Indeed, the advantage of cryogenic cleaning lies in the fact that it is not necessary to “demount” and “reassemble”. Rooms can be cleaned on-site without additional downtime.

Example: Agri-food

Cleaning 2 conveyor chains of 750 linear meters each.


The traditional technique involves dismantling over 2 days, sending the 2 chains to another site for cleaning and “cleaning” for 3 days, then returning to the customer’s site and reassembling over 2 days. That is a total production stoppage 7 days, at a cleaning cost of 30,000 euros, not counting the costs associated with production shutdowns.

Cryogenic cleaning, with 2 Cryoblaster ATX80 and ATX25 cleaning units, allows the chains to be degreased, on-site, without dismantling in just 2 1/2 days, or 4 1/2 days less production stoppage.

Cryogenics cleaning is 2 to 8 times faster than traditional methods. So, the process is very fast.

Cryogenic cleaning of agri-food chains: 2 1/2 days versus 7 days with traditional method…

Dry ice blasting is definitely cleaning at high speed!

A quick reminder:

Dry ice cleaning is a dry process, no need to wipe or dry the treated surfaces: save time! Thanks to the various types of nozzles, cleaning is much more “pushed” and allows cleaning in every nook and crannies. As a result, the equipment works more efficiently and potential leaks (e.g. hydraulics) are revealed.

A technique that ensures the sustainability of production tools

Because dry ice is dry, it does not promote the corrosion of metal surfaces.
This technique can therefore be used to clean electrical equipment under-voltage: as these are not likely to cause electrocution by direct contact.

Cleaning electrical cabinets under voltage requires a technical clearance. Make sure the operator has taken this kind of training. Otherwise, and if an accident, you may be liable.
Cleaning off-voltage and recorded electrical cabinets require H0B0 clearance (France)

In addition, the hardness of the dry ice is comparable to that of the chalk and therefore does not scratch the treated parts, unlike some tools such as spatulas, scrapers, scraping sponges: industrial cleaning with dry ice increases the life of the work tool by minimizing wear and keeping the machines in good working condition. The process is non-abrasive.

Among the many atoning of dry ice cleaning, the gentleness of the treatment is much less dense than the sand and above all sublimates (transition from solid to gaseous state, in a ratio of 1 to 400) on contact with the surface to be treated.


To ensure the feasibility of a cryogenic cleaning project on a surface you are not used to treating (wood, plastic, etc.), always start at low pressure, and adapt the ice granulometry and the type of nozzle according to the contaminant, the support and… result.

Some tools or accessories can damage treated surfaces…

The hardness of the dry ice is only 2 mohs, which is the hardness of the chalk. Cryogenics treatment is not abrasive.

In summary, the benefits of dry ice cleaning are:

  • A safe industrial cleaning process for operators, machines, the environment: no chemicals (no solvents, no detergent, no abrasives).
  • A technique that does not contribute to the increase in greenhouse gases (as long as compressed air is electrical). Ice carbon dioxide is made with recycled CO2, which is ultimately given a second useful life.
  • A dry, non-abrasive, non-conducting cleanliness technique using flammable media, 2 to 8 times faster than traditional techniques, due among other things, that it does not always require dismantling to clean the surfaces.

Other articles on the same theme…


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