Dry ice is a great tool that you can use to keep your cooler very cold for a longer period of time. It will last for around 24 hours in a cooler and can actively keep things frozen.
But can you put dry ice in a Coleman cooler? Is it safe to do so or will it break your Coleman cooler?
Yes you can put dry ice in a Coleman cooler. The plastic inside can handle the cold temperature and won't break. However, you CANNOT put dry ice in a soft sided Coleman cooler as it can damage the inner lining.
Hard sided Coleman coolers are made from an external layer of polypropylene which can handle the extreme cold temperatures of dry ice without breaking or cracking. However you shouldn't put boiling water in a Coleman cooler.
If, like me, you have a Coleman Xtreme or any other type of hard sided Coleman cooler then dry ice is fine to use.
However, I do recommend that you wrap your dry ice in paper or towels. This both insulates the dry ice so it lasts longer but it also protects your cooler from direct contact with the dry ice, making it less likely to break.
Can You Use Dry Ice In a Soft Sided Cooler
Soft sided Coleman coolers have a soft interior lining that is much more fragile than the plastic in hard sided coolers. Therefore it's recommended that you do NOT use dry ice in a soft sided cooler.
However, Coleman soft sided coolers are extremely cheap and if you're willing to take the risk in order to keep things frozen then there is a way you can keep dry ice in a soft Coleman cooler and make it less likely to damage the cooler.
First wrap your dry ice in a towel (or paper if you don't have a towel).
Place items on the bottom of your cooler and up the sides and put the dry ice in the middle.
Here we are trying to create a barrier between the dry ice and the inner lining of your soft sided cooler.
Again place items on top of the dry ice so it sits snuggly in the middle and is less likely to touch the sides.
Doing this should keep your items frozen and shouldn't break your soft Coleman cooler, but do so at your own risk.
Can Dry Ice Damage A Coleman Cooler?
It's highly unlikely that dry ice will damage and hard sided Coleman cooler. The plastic and foam it is made out of can withstand the cold temperatures without any big issues.
When using dry ice in your Coleman cooler the plastic walls of your cooler will become more brittle and prone to breaking from impacts.
So when using dry ice in a Coleman cooler avoid throwing things in that will impact the plastic with force. Make sure you place items (including the dry ice) in your Coleman cooler gently and you should be fine.
Why Does the Coleman Cooler Need a Vent When Using Dry Ice?
When you put dry ice in your Coleman cooler you will need to make sure that it has a vent for the gases to escape.
As dry ice sits inside of a cooler, it sublimates from its solid state to a gas state. It won’t get your food wet because it skips right over the liquid state when it changes phases.
You need to have ventilation where the gas can escape. Most Coleman coolers don't have a lid that has an airtight seal (as you can see in the video below on whether or not Coleman coolers are leak proof).
Because the lid is not airtight gas will naturally escape through the lid. But it can be a good idea (especially with the high-end Coleman coolers) to open up the bottom drainage plug so gas can escape out this way also.
How to Put Dry Ice in a Coleman Cooler
There are several ways to use dry ice in a Coleman cooler. You can place it on the bottom and separate it from your food with a piece of cardboard.
Make sure that the drainage cap is open, and then put your food on top of the cardboard.
You can finish by placing another piece of cardboard with dry ice above it wrapped in newspaper.
This method works well when you are hunting and need to keep your game cool.
If you have a lot of dead space in the cooler, you can put bags of regular ice or balled-up newspaper in to fill the space. Learn more about how to keep dry ice longer in a cooler.
This is important because more space will cause your ice to sublimate more quickly.
Why You Want to Use Dry Ice in a Coleman Cooler
People use dry ice because it keeps food cold for a longer period of time.
It works well if you are going camping for a few days, and it does a great job of keeping meat cold and even frozen when you are hunting. If you're hunting you'll also want to get one of the best hunting coolers.
As long as you use it properly with ventilation, it is safe to use and it is ideal for keeping your food and meat cold.
In addition, it will not melt and get your items wet the way that regular ice does because it goes directly from a solid state to a gas state. Compare dry ice to regular ice and see which one is best for you.
As long as you have ventilation available, you can use dry ice in a Coleman cooler.