Traveling with Breast Milk

Why would I need to use dry ice?

If you are traveling with frozen breast milk for longer than 12 hours, you need to use dry ice to protect the milk.

What is dry ice?

Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide. It is often used to keep foods cold so that they do not spoil while being transported. Unlike regular ice, dry ice does not melt. It changes from a solid to a gas and creates a vapor that looks like fog or smoke.

How can I handle dry ice safely?

  • Dry ice is much colder than regular ice. It can cause severe frostbite if it touches your skin. Always protect your hands when you are working with dry ice. Wear oven mitts or work gloves. Use tongs to pick up items that are stored in dry ice.
  • Use protective eyewear when handling dry ice to ensure eye safety.
  • If dry ice is used in small, closed spaces, the vapor may fill the room and there will not be enough oxygen left to breathe. Only open the container of dry ice in a large room or a room with an open window or an exhaust fan in the ceiling.
  • If dry ice is kept in an airtight container, it can burst or explode. Store dry ice in a foam cooler. This allows the vapor to escape safely.

How do I travel safely with dry ice?

  • If you are traveling with dry ice in a car or truck, place it in the car trunk or truck bed
  • If your vehicle does not have a trunk — for example, an SUV, van, hatchback — do not put dry ice in your vehicle
  • If you are traveling with dry ice in an airplane, notify your airline as soon as you arrive at the airport

How do I dispose of dry ice?

  • Place the cooler outside in a wide-open space, away from children and pets
  • Allow the ice to evaporate completely
  • Do not dump dry ice in sinks or toilets

Reviewed by Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN on December 01, 2010