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Advantages of Dry Ice Blasting vs Sandblasting

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Dry ice blasting and sandblasting are both methods used to remove surface contaminants.

They are both very effective at removing paint, grease, and other debris from a surface. However, you should be aware of some crucial differences between these two methods before deciding.

This article will compare the two methods and discuss the advantages of dry ice blasting vs sand blasting.

What Is Dry Ice Blasting?

Dry ice blasting is a technique used for removing paint, stripping contaminants, and cleaning surfaces. It uses solid CO₂ (carbon dioxide), also known as dry ice, at a temperature of approximately -78.5 degrees Celsius.

This dry ice is passed through a pressurized nozzle and creates ‘explosive sublimation‘. The dry ice pellets hit the surface and remove the contaminants without damaging the underlying substrate.

Where Is Dry Ice Blasting Used?

Cleaning with dry ice blasting is a common approach for cleaning industrial, residential, and commercial surfaces, including paint, smoke damage, grease and oils, and other unsightly contaminants like rust.

What Makes Dry Ice A Powerful Cleaning Agent?

Blasting dry ice particles onto surfaces removes impurities within milliseconds. In addition, machinery can still be operational throughout the cleaning process to reduce downtime.

Here are the three steps of dry ice blasting:

Thermal Shock

Due to the extreme negative temperature of the dry ice (-78.5 degrees Celsius), the dry ice creates a thermal shock upon striking the surface.

The thermal shock between the dry ice and the surface causes any contaminants to break and shrink and dislodge from the surface. In addition, dry ice blasting eliminates viruses and bacteria from surfaces.

The Impact Of Dry Ice

As the dry ice particles blast through rust, dirt, and paint layers, the force in combination with impact weakens the debris’ hold on the surface.

Dry Ice Particles Sublimate

When dry ice particles hit the surface, a chemical reaction occurs, turning the solid dry ice into a safe gas which expands 500 times under contaminants. This explosion results from a rapid transfer of heat and the vaporization of the solid dry ice.

In combination with the gas’s expansion, this chemical change causes the contaminant to release its hold from the surface and then fall off.

What Is Sandblasting?

Sandblasting, or abrasive blasting, is a surface finishing technique that uses highly pressured air to blast abrasive particles (sand) onto a surface; hence the name, ‘sandblasting’. The sand particles strike the surface, thus creating a smoother and more even texture.

How Is Sandblasting Performed?

The most common sandblasting method uses compressed air to force the sand particles through a nozzle.

The process starts by pouring sand into a sandblasting machine through a chamber on the top of the device. Then the sandblasting machine is connected to a conventional air compressor which propels sand out through a handheld nozzle.

Benefits Of Dry Ice Blasting vs Sandblasting

Even after learning the differences between dry ice blasting and sandblasting, you may be left thinking, ‘why should I use dry ice blasting and not sandblasting to clean?’ It’s a valid question. Here at Vinci Response, we want to make you well informed, so keep reading to find out the advantages dry ice blasting has over sandblasting.


The most comprehensive difference between dry ice blasting and sandblasting is that dry ice blasting is non-abrasive. Dry ice blasting does not strip, scratch, or damage the surface being cleaned as sandblasting does.

Dry ice particles sublimate on contact; they go directly into a gas from a solid. You can think of this as dry ice pellets ‘exploding upon impact and instantly releasing all their kinetic energy.

On the other hand, sand particles are large and abrasive; they work by shearing paint and rusting off surfaces. This process inevitably leaves scratches and damages surfaces.


Another advantage that dry ice has over sand is that it is non-conductive. Therefore, there is no risk of electrical damage or sparks when using dry ice to clean electronic equipment.

The non-conductivity of dry ice blasting is an essential consideration because sandblasting produces a lot of dust, which can be conductive. In addition, the dust created by sandblasting can cause electrical shorts and sparks, which pose a severe safety hazard.

On the other hand, dry ice blasting produces no dust because the dry ice particles sublimate on contact. This makes dry ice blasting the safer option for cleaning electronic equipment.

Increased Turnaround

Dry ice blasting requires significantly less time compared to cleaning surfaces by hand.

Moreover, since dry ice particles sublimate as they strike surfaces, there is no residue. It reduces the time spent cleaning and the amount needed to be cleaned.

Reduced Waste

Compared to other blast cleaning processes, dry ice blasting does not accumulate contaminants in the waste stream, therefore drastically reducing secondary waste for disposal.


Dry ice cleaning functions without chemicals, detergents, and solvents. The absence of chemicals is environmentally beneficial and reduces the need for hazardous waste management.

However, it is still necessary to be cautious as dry ice is frozen CO2 which can still be dangerous if the area is not well ventilated.

In contrast to other cleaning methods, such as sandblasting, dry ice blasting does not release particles which drain into the ground, sewers, lakes, streams, and oceans.


Unlike sandblasting, dry ice blasting does not use toxic chemicals or abrasives. There is no risk of inhaling harmful toxins when using dry ice to clean surfaces.

The lack of toxins makes dry ice cleaning the safer option for food-grade facilities and equipment.


Dry ice blasting machines are small and portable, making them easy to use in various settings. This is an essential consideration because dry ice blasting can be used to clean hard-to-reach places. It also makes dry ice blasting the ideal choice for cleaning delicate surfaces.

Protects Equipment

Although being tough on contaminants, dry ice blasting is gentle on surfaces.

For this reason, it will not damage any fragile pieces of property such as sensors, wire networks, and electronic circuits.

In addition, there is no water involved which makes it safe to use on electric circuits and moisture-sensitive materials.

Efficient Labour Allocation

Dry ice blasting is an efficient process that does not require manual labour. This means that labour and resource costs are reduced and time spent cleaning.

Find Out More About Vinci Response

Now that you know the advantages of dry ice blasting over sandblasting, you can decide which process is best for your needs. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us, and we will be happy to help.

For additional information or a quote, call us at 0333 577 2996 or email us at [email protected].