How do I dispose of gel packs?

Gel packs may be safely disposed of in most municipal waste streams (your garbage). We recommend that you do not dispose of the gel down your sink.

I disposed the gel material down my sink, and now it’s clogged, what do I do?

Your best option to clear the blockage is to use either a plunger or a snake on your drain. If this doesn’t clear the blockage, call your local plumber. We do not recommend that you use a chemical solution to unclog your drain.

Can I use gel packs for therapeutic purposes – sore muscles, aching joints, etc.?

Our gel packs are designed for shipping items that need to maintain a certain temperature. As such, they are not recommended for therapeutic use, but can be with certain precautions. The main risk is freezing skin, so a buffer, such as wrapping the gel pack in a towel, is recommended.

Can I reuse gel packs?

Yes, as long as they remain in good condition and are not punctured or leaking.

What if my pet eats a gel pack?

Our gel packs are non-toxic, but your pet may require the attention of a veterinarian if a significant amount is ingested. You may download the Safety Data Sheet for our gel material here.

How long will frozen gel packs protect my shipment?

There are too many variables related to a package, its contents, and shipping conditions to give a simple answer. But in most cases, the proper amount of gel packs can protect your shipment from 24 to 72 hours. Please contact Plastilite for more information.

Can gel packs be warmed?

Yes, gel packs can be warmed. A hot water bath is the only safe method Plastilite can recommend. Caution is always advised when handling frozen or heated gel packs.

When and how can I use ice packs?

Ice packs are most commonly used to maintain refrigerated temperatures, but may also be employed to help keep materials frozen, or even to keep products from freezing.

For non-frozen payloads, the most common method of shipping with ice packs is to place them above the product. This is often ideal for larger volume payloads such as master cartons of medications, home infusion materials, processed meats and cheeses and even tropical fish. Since cold air flows downward, top-loading the ice also offers the most even distribution of refrigeration throughout the time of transport. However, condensation of thawing ice sitting on top of moisture sensitive product and packaging can be a real concern. For this reason Plastilite also offers M.A.G. PACKS (moisture absorbing gel packs) to limit potential damages.

Top-loading with ice packs is also the most common means of extending the shipping life of frozen products when dry ice is not an option. In this position, the ice packs can act as a shield to fend off the effects of heat at the most vulnerable area within a shipping container.
In other instances, products such as vaccine vials with especially low mass can be extremely sensitive to freezing or need to stay within a narrow non-frozen temperature window. These conditions can demand that a variety of packaging modifications be employed in order find a workable solution.

One method to prevent product from freezing can be to simply precondition ice packs to a less extreme temperature before using. Even though freezer settings can vary greatly, the frozen state of water-based ice packs is only self-sustainable at or near 0ºC (32ºF). Often simple exposure of ice packs for a sufficient period at room temperature is all that is necessary to reduce a freezing risk. This technique, however, does cause ice packs to burn off some of their initial thermal energy, which in turn can shorten their life.

Another approach can be to adjust placement of ice packs to beneath, around or even totally surrounding a payload to reach a desired effect. Keep in mind that cold air does not readily flow upwards and that the positioning of ice below a payload can result in the top layers of a payload being exposed to significantly higher temperatures in transit. This is especially true in larger shipping containers.

Buffering the payload from the coolant with a layer of corrugated ((NEED MATERIAL TYPE HERE)) or bubble wrap can also be effective, as can the addition of non-frozen ice packs as payload ballast to moderate the severity and speed of temperature changes.

Extending shipping life to take advantage of lower freight rates is often a balancing act between better packaging and greater amounts of ice. These choices can in turn increase parcel weights, dimensional weights or risk of freezing. One highly effective option with little down side is the use of Plastilite’s THERMALAST insulative liner bags within EPS foam coolers.

With all the possible variables, establishing a shipping protocol can be intimidating. An experienced Plastilite representative can offer direction on how to deal with these and other issues to help develop viable and sustainable methods of using ice packs for shipping your products.

See THERMA-FROST for more information on ice pack types, sizes and uses.

When and how do I use dry ice?

When readily available, dry ice is generally the preferred coolant used to maintain payloads in a frozen state. At -78.5ºC (-109.3ºF) dry ice can be very effective – though as with all things, it is important to understand its limitations. The rate in which dry ice sublimates depends on a number of factors that will in turn determine realistic shipping time expectations.

Locally sourced dry ice may be available as snow, pellets or blocks. For duration, consider that snow and pellets, though perhaps easier to work with, have significantly more surface area, which in turn increases their sublimation rate. Block ice, on the other hand, can be be cumbersome to handle, or only available in dimensions that will not work within your optimal shipping carton size.

Dry Ice on Top

Dry ice on top of product exposed to more heat, but tends to keep payload evenly frozen

Dry Ice on Bottom

Dry ice beneath products sublimates slower but may fail to keep payload frozen

Container quality, shipping conditions and placement can all have a significant impact on the overall effectiveness of dry ice. Positioning ice underneath a payload can effectively delay sublimation by limiting surface contact with air. Though the ice may last substantially longer in this manner, the cold may find it hard to access the upper reaches of the payload, leaving that area exposed to heat. This is especially a concern in larger shipping containers.

Placing the ice on top will generally cause the ice to sublimate faster, but since the cold is more evenly dispersed throughout the compartment, the entire payload may actually stay frozen longer. Center- or side-packing of the ice can also be a workable compromise, though payload shifting once the ice is gone should be considered.

Regardless of placement, using just a single block of ice while limiting dead air space will normally achieve best results. THERMALAST liner bags can also be used to increase dry ice’s life and keep products frozen longer once it is spent.

Since dry ice is treated as a hazardous substance by the Department of Transportation, it is always a good idea to consult with the intended parcel carrier to discuss proper documentation and labeling requirements before shipping.

Of your gel ice packs, MAG packs, and bricks, which works best?

All these packs perform about the same in comparable number of ounces. MAG packs, which absorb their own condensation, will help keep payloads dryer. Bricks maintain a more dependable shape when frozen and are ideal with tight package tolerances.

What type, size, and thickness of cooler do I need?

Such factors as the number of days in transit, size and type of payload shipped, the way the payload is packaged, the required temperature range to be maintained, and type of coolant used, will all need to be considered in choosing the right cooler. To get started, try our Packaging Shipping Calculator.

What is the r-value of an EPS foam Plastilite cooler?

Shipping coolers generally offer a 4.2 to 4.4 r-value per inch of thickness.

Does Plastilite require a minimum order?

We are very flexible in our order terms, but we can sell down to the case or skid level, depending on the product ordered. Contact Plastilite to confirm the minimum for the product you are interested in.

Do I need to ship coolers protected by a corrugated outer box?

Many of our foam coolers are strong enough to ship without boxes if taped or wrapped securely. However, boxes do offer added strength and security, and are especially recommended for larger sizes. Also be aware that there may be added handling fees by your shipping company, and in some cases, those fees can exceed the cost of a box. So make sure you contact them before you try to ship without.

Can I customize my product identity in a shipping cooler?

Plastilite can offer to mold your logo into cooler lids, or assemble the coolers inside custom printed boxes. Custom printing of ice packs is also an option. Certain minimums apply.

Are there ways to cut my shipping costs?

The best two methods are to minimize the Dim (dimensional) weight size of your package, and to consider longer transit times to reduce expedited shipping charges.

What is Dim (dimensional) weight?

This is the multiplier of exterior package dimensions to come up with an imaginary weight. In most cases the parcel service will bill for whichever is higher, the package weight, or the corresponding dim weight.

How can I extend transit times?

Plastilite offers a liner bag called Thermalast, which when used inside a foam cooler, can extend the safe shipping time of perishable packages by 25% to 40%.

Where does Plastilite ship from?

Plastilite ships from our centrally located warehouse in Omaha, Nebraska. Plastilite has distributors and manufacturing partners in select cities around the country that may be utilized to service your account.

How does Plastilite ship its products?

We ship small orders via UPS. We use a host of LTL carriers offering the best rates to locations across the country. We also use FTL carriers for large orders to all parts of the country. We offer prepaid and add shipping terms, as well as shipping using customer assigned carriers with collect or 3rd party billing. Export shipping is also available. Check with your Plastilite rep for more information.

How do I handle damaged products on shipments from Plastilite?

Contact Plastilite immediately upon receiving damaged shipments of our product so that we can process claims with the freight carriers. Please supply photos, delivery receipts and details on the number of damaged products for claim processing. Damage must be noted on the fright carriers delivery receipt or BOL in order for us to process claims.

What payment methods does Plastilite accept?

We offer NET 30 terms upon credit approval. We accept VISA and Master Card payments and will accept bank transfers if required.

Can I return unneeded product to Plastilite?

Plastilite accepts returns on a case-by-case basis. Return freight must be handled and paid by the customer. Generally, a 10% restocking fee will apply. Contact your Plastilite rep to discuss the details of your potential return shipment. Plastilite retains the right to refuse return shipments and credits at our discretion.

Does Plastilite offer samples?

Plastilite will supply samples of our products for customer testing and approval on a case by case basis. for adequately sized potential projects.

How do I receive MSDS/SDS sheets for Plastilite products?

You may download these documents by clicking on this link.

Does Plastilite offer customized products?

Yes, Plastilite offers custom products with minimum order runs. Custom items may include logos molded into stock cooler lids, custom molded foam coolers, logo coolant packs (gel and brick packs), special sized coolant packs (gel & brick packs) custom print corrugated outer boxes, and custom sized Thermalast bags. Call for details and minimums on each product.

How can I place an order with Plastilite?

We accept orders via phone, fax, email.

What are some tips for successful shipping of perishable materials?

Whether the product is a food, pharmaceutical, chemical, biological substance or even a live organism, a great number of factors need to be considered when developing a reliable shipping method, including:

  • The type of material being shipped
  • The thermal mass the product
  • Dead air pockets within a payload’s packaging
  • The product’s viable temperature range
  • Temperature state of product placed in container
  • Sensitivity to temperature incursions
  • Product value ratio to justifiable shipping costs
  • Tradeoffs between expedited and extended transit
  • Package weight vs. dimensional weight factors
  • Regional, domestic or international destination
  • Multiple-destination climate conditions
  • Seasonal or multi-season shipping protocols

Though perishable cargos and shipping requirements can vary greatly, there are often a number of commonalities within each product category. Through years of experience, our staff can generally offer advice on commonly successful packaging and shipping strategies to match nearly any situation. However, for highly sensitive and unusual products, or those with more stringent time and temperature requirements, our TESTING AND VALIDATION services may prove to be both necessary and invaluable.

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