cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Dry ice cleaning: The coolest way to remove rust, grime, and undercoating | Hagerty Media

Abrasive media blasting is the preferred method for preparing a surface for a complete restoration. But what if your vehicle has survived all this time with its original paint intact, and it's got decades of grease, grime, undercoating and surface rust to contend with?
https://www.hagerty.com/media/maintenance-and-tech/dry-ice-cleaning-the-coolest-way-to-remove-rust-g...
55 REPLIES 55
Rob1
Instructor

Impressive technology I have been on the end of a media blaster a number of times mostly sand its not a preferred job sand gets in places that is hard to blow it out after on your equipment personal and otherwise this is a more selective way of prepping the underside of a car thanks for the article.R
OLDERbastard1
Detailer

Interesting. I heard of this before (a buddy's business does it on industrial equipment), but I never put too much thought into it (the hassle of the dry ice didn't appeal to me). Although different, I chose Vapor Blasting instead. My forte is more about skipping scraping/grinding/polishing & coming out with a beautiful result in several different finishes much quicker & easier. Thanks for the article.
edddurst-gmail
Intermediate Driver

There is also soda blasting. This can remove paint but the soda doesn't hurt the metal underneath. I happen to own a small soda blaster and the soda is fairly easy to get in 50 pound bags and it doesn't harm the environment. It very good for all forms of metal, too.
ThumperUSMC
Intermediate Driver

I have used soda blasting before, particularly on aircraft and aircraft engines, I never gave it much thought about cars though. I just may try that on my '67 Vette that I am working on... Thanks for the idea.
ACTCO2
Pit Crew

I’ve worked on fiberglass, it’s a great application! Feel free to reach out with any questions, 215-913-4835 or my email is Actco2blasting@gmail.com
Figuero
Intermediate Driver

I don't think you intended this sentence. I think you meant CO2 Blasting is probably not the best.

"And if your project requires removing paint, for example, media blasting is probably the best choice.
Oh, and by the way, how much CO2 is released during the cleaning of one car?
TonyT
Instructor

The process of making dry ice involves liquefying carbon dioxide (CO2) that separated from the air and freezing it. Hence, once dry ice is allowed to return to its gaseous state, the molecules return to their previous place in the atmosphere.
F360Spider
Detailer

I seriously doubt the CO2 used is pulled from the air. It comes from a company like AirGas. They certainly aren't pulling the CO2 out of the atmosphere. So this process does contribute to the CO2 but most likely, the CO2 released from driving over to do the job contributed more pollution than the minor release of a few pounds of dry ice.
OldCarMan
Instructor

Despite what the climate Chicken Littles say, CO2 is NOT a pollutant!
It is a natural product of life, used by plants and produced by life forms. The increase in it can be more easily traced to the extra 5 BILLION lives on earth, since the the 19th century.
ACTCO2
Pit Crew

Great question! Co2 is a byproduct of ethanol production, it’s captured and compressed into gas, liquid and a solid. So it this is a much better alternative to just venting the gas into the atmosphere, as well as eliminating the use of chemicals for applications where dry ice cleaning is viable.
farna
Detailer

Yes... and no. It's still eventually vented to the atmosphere, it's just used for something else first. Even if it's just used for cooling, as it evaporates it turns into CO2 gas, application doesn't matter.
TG
Instructor

There are plenty of people scrubbing CO2 out of industrial applications that I don't think anyone is manufacturing CO2 expressly for this process. Considering that the air reduction process that AirGas and others use to make industrial gases, it is entirely likely that it came directly from that. Nobody burned 5 tons of coal to make dry ice for blast cleaning
Unobtanium254
New Driver

F360,
You are correct. Companies like AirGas, Linde, etc. produce CO2 for industrial uses. One of the prime sources of CO2 is the industrial production of hydrogen, where CO2 is a byproduct. Oil refineries use H2 to purify gasoline and diesel fuels. Chemical plants use H2 in other processes, too. To get the required H2 they use a process called H2 reforming. The starting ingredient in H2 reforming is natural gas, CH4. It works to produce hydrogen like this:

CH4 (natural gas) + H2O (high temp steam) reacted over a catalyst at 1550 deg F ------> produces H2 + CO (carbon monoxide) + CO2 (carbon dioxide). Later in the process the CO is reacted to convert it to more CO2.

Bottom line: CH4 plus catalyst and a LOT of heat yields H2 and CO2.

This is one of the major processes to produce both hydrogen and carbon dioxide from natural gas, so we have plenty of industrial grade CO2 to use for processes like dry ice production.

BTW, this is one of the fallacies of people who say we have plenty of hydrogen for hydrogen-fueled vehicles. Pure H2 is NOT abundant in nature.
Hydrogen compounds are very abundant (think water, H2O), but it takes a helluva lot of energy to split the hydrogen off the molecule, whether it's H2O, CH4, etc.

It is far more efficient to simply use natural gas as a fuel directly in vehicles. It takes a boatload of energy to get the natural gas and steam up to the required temperatures to make the reaction "go" to produce the hydrogen and the CO2. Plus, of course, you are creating a lot of CO2, so if you don't capture it, it goes to the atmosphere and that's a no-no according to the "Green Experts".

Of course, power plants using natural gas, coal, or other fuels will belch a bunch of CO2 into the atmosphere as well, so I still don't understand how electric vehicles are going to solve this so-called atmospheric CO2 problem, unless you go to nuclear, hydroelectric, or solar. And more nukes and dams won't pass muster with the greens, and I don't think solar will ever be enough to power millions of vehicles. Just my humble opinion as a chemical engineer.
DAY
Intermediate Driver

Electric vehicles have one purpose, to cut the range people can live from cities. Do away with carbon fuels, and you make it hard for people in the country, (out of the DIRECT control of those IN CHARGE) to survive. It's all about Control folks. Batteries are worse for pollution (gathering the materials, then disposing of them) and then Charging them at night. Where do you find solar or wind at night? You don't, so you use carbon based fuels again to charge at night, when most are charged. And the current grid is NOT going to handle electric car charging. Remember how the incandescent bulb was banned BECAUSE IT USED TO MUCH ELECTRICITY? Now, how much do you think charging your car is going to use? GET READY FOR THE BROWN OUTS AND BLACK OUTS.
Figuero
Intermediate Driver

I hadn't considered that. Point well taken.
vespafitz
New Driver

"And if your project requires removing paint, for example, media blasting is probably the best choice."

This is correct. Dry ice blasting is not media blasting.

It's non-abrasive. The process freezes the surface contaminants off, the way your dermatologist would freeze a skin irregularity off.
 


ACTCO2
Pit Crew

You’re partially correct, it is not good for removal of well bonded paint, but dry ice certainly qualifies as a media while it will not profile metal it does on wood (fire and mold remediation)
The actual cleaning process is the instantaneous conversion of the solid co2 particles back to their natural gaseous state, in that conversion each particle expands 400x on an ambient surface and 800x at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The conversion from solid to gas creates an expansion within the concentrated area of the blast stream and that’s the cleaning action. If you’re interested please feel free to reach out Actco2blasting@gmail.com Thanks, Dave
Unobtanium254
New Driver

Hi Dave,
Do you think that dry ice blasting would remove carbon deposits on intake valves for cars with Direct Injection? Currently, they use walnut shell blasting for real bad cases, but I always worry about getting that media into the cylinder.

Thanks,
Don
hb
Intermediate Driver

We used a dry ice machine at Boeing Aircraft to clean our tooling of baked on carbon fibre resin. It needed a lot of air and was loud, but really did the job. One would be great in the garage. Its fun too!
Iso_Grifo
Advanced Driver

Looks like a great solution for a "survivor car". Get rid of all that rust and gunk.
55BelAir
New Driver

I rented a dry Ice Blaster from a local equipment rental house when I cleaned the underside of my Bel Air. worked great and wasn't too expensive
MATTMERICA
Instructor

About how much did it cost? I could get behind this for the right price on some of my vehicles, thanks
ACTCO2
Pit Crew

Matt, the average vehicle costs between $1250-1600. Which includes engine/bay, undercarriage and suspension (we remove wheels and clean the wheel wells, brakes and suspension) please feel free to reach out to us at Actco2blasting@gmail.com or my direct line 215-913-4835 if you’re not close me (we travel) I’ll point you in the right direction !
farna
Detailer

That's the cost for your company to do the job at $275 per hour. For most of us hobbyist that's steep -- for a big money collector it's protecting an investment (depending on the value of the car itself). I couldn't justify that kind of expense on my hobby cars. 55BelAir mentioned renting the equipment for a DIY job. That might be more feasible for a hobbyist.
Doug42
Intermediate Driver

I looked up rentals and came up with $2000 per day. This is close to seven hours of having it done. It saves the cost of repainting.
Dryceman
Pit Crew

Kudos to those who came before us and paved the way! Pioneers to be sure.

After watching the industry for 13 years, I finally made the plunge and setup (painfully) our Dryce® cleaning system in the spring of 2019. Instead of using it the more traditional way like this gentleman, my focus was to carefully clean and preserve the underbody, trim, wheels, and engine bay of vehicles NOT needing restoration. Removing decades of dirt, cosmoline, tar, road kill, grease, and even road paint from the pristine finishes that lie beneath! If you want to know more about this application, we're just now wrapping up our detailed video series on YouTube with Obsessed Garage. I spent 1000+ hours over the past 22 months, cleaning 75+ cars that needed NO restoration or repainting when finished, you'll see why our process is the salvation of the YoungTimer (20-30 year old cars) and Radwood vintage vehicles.

Scott Ales, the Dryce®man Cometh...
ACTCO2
Pit Crew

Very cool Scott not many of us in this business! Feel free to reach out anytime, my cell is 215-913-4835 or my email is Actco2blasting@gmail.com

For some before and after pictures my Facebook is the best place ACT Dry Ice Cleaning Services LLC
drhino
Instructor

“Conservation is the new restoration.”

Yes!!!!!!!!!!
ThumperUSMC
Intermediate Driver

I like it. I have used media blasting in the past, and while that still and always will, work great, this looks like it probably would be better, preserving the paint that is underneath the vehicle. I do wonder however, how well that would work on fiberglass bodied vehicles, such as Corvettes, to do the frames without having to removing the bodies, especially the newer Corvettes, such as the C5 bodies, which are more of a composite rather then just fiberglass. As I said, that would work really well, from what little I have seen, for some items, but the "glass and plastic" items, as a lot of Corvettes have been called, I'm not so sure. Anyone have further thoughts on that?
Dryceman
Pit Crew

I have preserved 75 cars over the last 2 years using the latest technology machines. And yes, we developed a method and use more aligned with preservation than restoration. You can find our work on Bring A Trailer, YouTube, Facebook, and our website, YoungTimer.com.
Or just Google Scott Ales or Dryce®.
It's been very exciting and rewarding. Cleaning cars without taking them apart to the highest level.
Swamibob
Instructor

I was going to write "That's a cool idea" but them caught myself. 🙂
I like the idea that it doesn't remove good paint or other coatings but does remove other gunk. Sounds like the perfect way to clean the undercarriage of a project. Love the concept.
Figuero
Intermediate Driver

That's dry humor Swamibob.
F360Spider
Detailer

Given the choice of doing it myself with walnut husks or some other DIY media, or hiring an outsider to come and do it for me with dry ice, I would choose the DIY method every time.

Sure, it's groovy technology but it requires a specialist with special equipment. No matter how careful they are, they could never be as careful as me, nor take the time required to do a bangup job.

So great for commercial purposes but worthless to the DIY restorer.
DT
Detailer

I love your positive attitude. Brings Sunshine into my day 🙂
MisterTorgue
Intermediate Driver

Experienced professionals who know what they're doing must find you a joy to work with.

Dolph
New Driver

Great technology..... I'm constantly amazed at how people don't understand chemistry. The release of a few hundred pounds of CO2 is nothing compared to the release of CO2 when you make ANY of the solvents used in paint removal, or when you move around and process the abrasives needed to clean these surfaces. That is, of course, if you're foolish enough to dis the primary building block of life, and buy into the hysteria. Science, it's a thing. It's repeatable. It's measurable. This is good tech that's better for the environment in all ways.
ACTCO2
Pit Crew

Hello, this is Dave with ACT Dry Ice Services if you have any questions please feel free reach out to me at Actco2blasting@gmail.com or 215-913-4835 (cell), if you’re looking for lots more examples of my work we’re on Facebook at ACT Dry Ice Cleaning Services LLC.
Jurgen
New Driver

Nice article,
We just started offering this service in the greater Sacramento area (www.2shoresdryicewerks.com) using state of the art German technology. The results are stunning, we have before and after photos on our website! Check it out!
Waterboy1KHY80
Intermediate Driver

Man, this mite be the answer to MY problem. I have a 1983 rust free car with a ton of OEM undercoating. I am staring at a major removal of this stuff with chemicals, scraper etc. But now I think I will look into this, IF it works that well. Slick - Thanks
Dryceman
Pit Crew

We have exact examples of your situation with before/after photos and videos.
Or...
Watch our full disclosure Dryce® video series on YouTube under Obsessed Garage.
Or my channel, Scott Ales
ACTCO2
Pit Crew

It will eat the undercoating for breakfast! I’ve been in business for 24+ years and traveled the country cleaning a variety of applications. Check out my B/A pics on my Facebook page ACT Dry Ice Cleaning Services LLC
dcurts
New Driver

As many of you have stated dry ice is in fact carbon dioxide. When the solid ice sublimates to its gaseous state it WILL DISPLACE OXYGEN. Be extremely careful to have enough ventilation in the area to prevent the room/garage or wherever you are performing the cleaning from becoming oxygen deficient. Best to do it outside if you can or have all the doors and windows open in the room. As an Industrial Hygienist by profession, I've had the unfortunate job to be part of the fatality investigations related to this type of cleaning.
The clean does work well but only do it an a very well ventilated area.
ACTCO2
Pit Crew

The only place where oxygen displacement becomes an issue is if you are working in a confined space or below grade (basement) without any ventilation. That being said this is definitely best left to professionals, such as myself who are safety trained and certified! (I’ve been in business for 24 years) feel free to check out my Facebook page
ACT Dry Ice Cleaning Services LLC
Papa-tony
Intermediate Driver

Did I miss something, like the cost of a new, lighter and portable machine... and how and where to get the dry ice media... and its general cost?
ACTCO2
Pit Crew

Machines cost from 15k to 30k usd, and the old adage “you get what you pay for “ .... dry ice can be purchased all over the country as it’s used in many industries, check out dryiceinfo.com they’ll be able to help you in your area. For us to do the average undercarriage, engine/bay and suspension (removal of the wheels to access) take between 4-6 hrs obviously contingent on the level of “dirt” undercoating may take a tad longer. On average a job costs the customer $1250-1600.
Please feel free to reach out Actco2blasting@gmail.com or my cell 215-913-4835 thanks Dave
Dryceman
Pit Crew

All those questions and more answered on our 5 part series with Obsessed Garage.  Episode 1 and 2 are live, #3 drop Saturday.  

brians356
Detailer

It removes only loose rust scale. It's obvious from the photos that it leaves rusted surfaces rusty. So this is not a substitute for more aggressive blasting media where rust-free steel is the goal. The title of the article probably should omit the word "rust".
Dryceman
Pit Crew

Here is informational video #1 of our 5 part series.  Our focus is on vehicles that need cleaned,   https://youtu.be/JA_KzI8qIN0

Ironworker1955
New Driver

Looks like a very slow process and tedious !