Dry ice isn’t as accessible as bagged ice cubes. Even if every convenience store or supermarket in your neighborhood sells ice, you can’t guarantee that they also stock up on dry ice.
It’s not a basic commodity, so stores will lose money if they waste their resources storing dry ice since it doesn’t sell quickly.
Unfortunately, inaccessibility puts shoppers at a disadvantage. People buying dry ice for the first time often end up hopping from store to store since very few establishments carry it.
But don’t worry if you need dry ice fast. We made a comprehensive list of widely known convenience stores and supermarkets guaranteed to have dry ice in several locations.
That way, you won’t waste time scouring different shops.
Please read without skipping. We’ll explain a common, dangerous mistake that first-timers commit when handling dry ice. Overlooking safety precautions could cause serious injuries.
Let’s dive into the different stores that sell dry ice near you!
9 stores that sell dry ice
Dry ice has several commercial and residential functions. Consumers often use dry ice to preserve and display frozen foods in open containers, although it also works for making smokey visual effects, storing medicine, and mixing specialty cocktail drinks.
With that said, it still isn’t an everyday essential. Convenience stores and supermarkets can’t stock up on too much dry ice since it won’t sell fast.
You can’t just buy it at any local shop. If you need dry ice, we suggest visiting the following establishments:
Gas stations and convenience stores
Most people would go straight to big-box stores for dry ice. Contrary to popular belief, however, several gas stations and convenience stores actually have dry ice in some locations.
7-Eleven ranks among the biggest convenience store chains globally. It has 9,500+ stores in 37 states, so you’ll likely come across one almost everywhere in the U.S.
Unfortunately, locations don’t carry the same merchandise. But based on reviews, bigger stores in cities with high foot traffic are likely to sell dry ice.
Sheetz has 660+ locations nationwide, 290+ of which are found in Pennsylvania. Its locations usually have gas stations, convenience stores, and deli bars, making it the ideal road trip stopover.
Also, Sheetz sets low prices on its merchandise. For instance, it offers one-pound bags of dry ice at $2.00, while most convenience stores sell them at $3.00.
Speedway has 3,900+ locations in 34 states. Its convenience stores often have gas stations, so you can fill up your car while shopping for necessities.
We like that Speedway has a diverse inventory. You’ll find various items, from small snacks to unique purchases like bags of dry ice.
If you need to buy dry ice cheaply or in bulk, go straight to big-box stores. Although locations stock up on varying merchandise, nationwide brands generally strive to maintain a uniform inventory.
Costco has 800+ locations in 46 different states. You need a membership card to shop, although a cardholder can take up to two guests on one shopping trip.
Not all Costco locations have dry ice. We suggest calling before visiting, especially if there aren’t too many branches near you.
Walmart is one of the largest supermarket chains in the U.S. It has a massive supercenter in every state except for Hawaii, so you won’t have trouble finding a nearby location.
Walmart carries various brands of dry ice. However, based on our research, the cheapest one you can get is priced at around $1.80 per pound.
Kroger 2,800+ locations in 35 states. It carries a broad range of affordable all-natural food items, most of which the company manufactured itself.
No, the brand’s not as big as Walmart. However, we like that it has one of the lowest-priced dry ice products on the market.
Whole Foods has 500+ locations in the U.S. It serves as the go-to establishment for anyone who wants organic, all-natural food items.
Admittedly, $4.00 is quite steep for a pound of dry ice. However, note that Whole Foods primarily caters to the upper middle class, so expect its merchandise to be a bit pricier.
Giant Food has 150+ locations in five states. Although it doesn’t have as many locations as the other establishments on this list, it still carries a broad range of merchandise.
Not all Giant Food locations carry dry ice. However, some stores in areas with high foot traffic sell them at a moderately high yet reasonable price.
Hy-Vee is an employee-owned retail store chain with 280+ locations in eight Midwestern states. It takes pride in its neighborly, personable customer service team.
If you live in or visit the Midwest, you’ll likely come across at least one Hy-Vee supermarket. Many large locations sell dry ice.
Store sections where you’ll find dry ice
Establishments either keep their dry ice in the frozen foods section or near the store exit. You’ll find a special container specifically for dry ice.
Ask for assistance before taking them out of their coolers. For safety reasons, some stores don’t let customers handle dry ice themselves.
Most popular dry ice brands
For most consumers, branding isn’t a critical factor in buying dry ice. In all likelihood, you’ll grab the first bag or block you see, especially if you’ve already visited different stores.
With that said, you might notice some familiar brands while shopping. Although establishments carry varying merchandise brands, expect the following dry ice brands in several locations:
- Mie Chemical
- Techni Ice
Note: Expect big-box stores to carry generic, brandless bags of dry ice—which are often cheaper than branded ones.
Proper ways to store and handle dry ice
Before you even consider buying dry ice, ensure that you have the necessary tools to store and handle it. Please don’t treat it like regular cubed ice.
Unbeknownst to many first-timers, dry is quite dangerous. It can already cause frostbite if it comes in contact with your bare skin, so just imagine what would happen if you ingested it.
To avoid bodily injuries, secure the following tools:
- Insulated Gloves: Always put on thick, insulated gloves before going near dry ice.
- Tongs: Beginners should use tongs instead of shovels or ice pics when handling dry ice.
- Goggles: Wear a pair of safety goggles before stabbing blocks of dry ice with a knife or pick. Even small shards can burn your eyes.
Dry ice lasts several hours. If you buy a bag or two, you likely won’t go through them all in one go.
However, never store them in your freezer. Dry ice constantly emits carbon dioxide, which could eventually cause an explosion if it accumulates in an airtight container.
For proper storage, make sure you:
- Keep the dry ice in a separate container. Invest in a separate cooler or freezer for your dry ice. You can find some cheap, quality ones made of styrofoam for just a couple of bucks.
- Set the container aside in a well-ventilated space. Store the dry ice container in an open area wherein the emitted carbon dioxide can’t harm anyone.
- Leave the top slightly open. Leave a small opening so the carbon dioxide from your dry ice escapes.
You might have seen some mixologists adding dry ice to their drinks. It creates a unique smoke effect, plus it keeps the drink ice-cold for a long time.
WARNING: Now, the question is whether you can try it at home. Unless you have experience mixing specialty cocktail drinks, we highly advise against it.
As we mentioned above, dry ice can cause frostbite. Accidentally consuming a chunk of dry ice can freeze your lips, damage your esophagus, and rupture your stomach.
Please don’t take these risks lightly. You could end up with anything from frostbite on your lips to lethal stomach injuries.
Consult a professional beforehand. They should advise you on the safe, proper ways to mix dry ice into drinks.
Extending the lifespan of dry ice
Dry ice has a relatively long lifespan. A huge chunk weighing at least five pounds might take one day to disappear wholly.
However, external factors can significantly hasten sublimation. To ensure that you get the most out of your dry ice, make sure that you:
- Buy it at the last minute possible. Only buy and prepare dry ice once you’re ready to use it, especially if you plan on storing it outdoors.
- Store it in a separate cooler. Keep your dry ice away from anything that might contaminate it (i.e., raw foods, vegetables, blood).
- Cover with paper. Fill your dry ice cooler with crumpled balls of old but clean newspaper. Paper absorbs extra moisture in the air and acts as insulation, thus minimizing the heat that reaches the ice.
Don’t worry—most of the items needed for storing dry ice are widely available.
Getting cheap, accessible dry ice
Dry ice has a lot of uses, from food preservation to visual effects. However, since most consumers don’t buy it too often, fewer convenience stores and supermarkets sell it.
We suggest saving this post for reference so you’ll know where to go if you ever need dry ice. Otherwise, you’ll get lost if you don’t have a proper starting point.
Also, you’d do well to connect with a widely trusted ice distributor if you’ll start needing dry ice more often for your business or project. Shop around for the lowest prices.
Just don’t forget to buy the necessary tools for storing and handling dry ice if you don’t have them yet. Again, dry ice can cause frostbites, so never attempt to touch—much less eat—it.