Dry Ice Pellets v Powder

There are currently two ways you can source Dry Ice for theatrical service in your On Trade venue:

1. Pellets

This is the traditional form of Dry Ice and is generally used commercially for refrigeration rather than for theatrical food & drinks service. Pellets are mass produced in a factory by a Pelletizer Machine. Co2 gas from a canister is pumped into the machine at one end which compresses it and then extrudes out the Pellets at the other end. Clean Surface in the UK is an example of this type of company.

Pros:

i) Invest

The Operator does not have to invest in equipment, you can order the finished product from a Dry Ice Supplier.

Cons:

i) Safety

Pellets are a compact version of Dry Ice. This means that the Pellets cannot be automatically injected into food/drink apparatus, so they have to be manually handled by an Operator. This relies on the Operator following the correct procedure each time. As the Pellet is compact it can take a long time to fully sublimate during theatrical use meaning it also has to be safely disposed of after use. 

ii) Waste/Cost

Even though the Pellets are delivered from a Dry Ice Supplier in a specific polystyrene box, as soon as the Pellets leave the Pelletizer they will begin to sublimate at room temperature. A standard 10kg box of Dry Ice Pellets will sublimate to gas within 24-48 hours of delivery. Meaning that a new box needs to be delivered each week and any Pellets that are not used go to waste. The average cost of a 10kg delivered box in the UK is around £40.

iii) Cooling

Even though the Pellet is extremely cold at -79oC, the compactness reduces the surface area, meaning it is not that efficient at cooling liquids.

2. Powder

This is the modern form of Dry Ice and is used primarily for theatrical food & drinks service. The JetChill Machine converts Co2 gas from a canister into a Dry Ice Powder instead of a compact Pellet. As it creates a soft powder instead of a solid pellet, the powder can be automatically be injected into food/drink apparatus. The density of the Powder is 1/10th that of a Pellet.

Pros:

i) Safety

The JetChill Machine is safe and easy to use because the automated process removes the need for manual handling. Once the Powder is injected into apparatus it is immediately safe to use. The Powder also sublimates quickly and fully and does not need to be disposed of after use. For food applications the Powder is also quicker and easier to manipulate than Pellets.

ii) Cost

The Co2 in the Cylinder which produces the Dry Ice Powder can be stored indefinitely. This means that the Powder is always available at the push of a button and there is no wasted Dry Ice. The cost to produce a charge of Powder from the machine is around £0.10 and over time this works out at a cheaper per serve cost than Pellets.  

iii) Cooling

As the Power has a large surface area it has good cooling properties. For example it will chill a 50ml spirit measure from room temperature to below zero degrees in less than 3 minutes.

Cons:

i) Invest

There is the capital cost to the Operator. In addition to upfront purchase however the Machines can also be installed on a lease purchase (3 year period) or lease hire (12 month period) agreement. Not only does this make it easier to get started but it also brings tax saving benefits which further increases Return On Investment.

Conclusion

Evidently there are numerous advantages for using Powder instead of Pellets for theatrical mixology and gastronomy. Not just from a safety perspective but also from cost and versatility. For some intriguing food and drink concepts please see below. If you would like to receive our newsletter with additional information then please subscribe here.

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