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Jaidyn Farar

Beat the Heat: Keeping Products Cool During Shipping

by Jaidyn Farar

As we move into what’s expected to be a hotter-than-average summer, your mind is probably filled with thoughts of road trips, sandy beaches, and other warm-weather adventures. But summer is a double-sided coin; while you might enjoy soaking up the sun, packages containing temperature-sensitive goods don’t appreciate the heat. 

If your summer plans include shipping products that need to be kept cold—like pharmaceuticals or food—this article is for you. Let’s review some packing and shipping tips to beat the heat and ensure your deliveries arrive in perfect condition.

1. Choose the right coolant

First things first: choosing a coolant. When added to a properly insulated package, a coolant can keep temperatures low for hours. Depending on the type of product you’re shipping, choose from one of the following two coolant options.

  • Gel pack. To keep an item cold (but not frozen), use a gel pack. While this pack won’t melt or leak like ice, it can create condensation. You can protect your product by wrapping it in a plastic bag, lining your box with plastic, and adding an absorbent mat to the bottom. 
  • Dry ice. To keep an item frozen, use dry ice. Because dry ice is a hazardous material, you cannot ship by air if your package contains more than five pounds of dry ice. Make sure not to touch the dry ice when packing boxes, and avoid wrapping it tightly in plastic. 

2. Use an insulated container

Even the fastest shipping methods can take up to 24 hours, and your package could be exposed to hot conditions during that time. While a coolant will help keep temperatures down, your product won’t stay cold or frozen for long without the proper insulation.

We recommend using an insulated box made from foam or a sustainable alternative (contrary to popular belief, plenty of sustainable insulation options exist!). For further insulation, leave space between your product and the sides of the package. By adding filler material like shredded paper, biodegradable packing peanuts, or air pillows, you provide extra insulation against the heat. 

Make sure to place your insulated container into a sturdy corrugated box to protect it during transit.

3. Tape all box seams

Don’t just add a line of tape down your box’s main seam—tape every open seam to more effectively keep cold air in and hot air out. This is called the H-tape method because the tape will make an H shape on the top and bottom of your box.

4. Keep items cold until it's time to ship

The colder your product is when you put it in the box, the better! Keep your products refrigerated or frozen up until it’s time to pack and ship them. 

5. Use next-day shipping

No matter how great your insulation and coolant setup is, it will eventually fail. You need to make sure your package is delivered before that happens, so aim for shipping to take no more than 30 hours. If you’re looking to keep costs low, we recommend the following shipping services:

These are the most affordable overnight shipping options offered by the major carriers; packages are delivered in the afternoon or evening of the next business day. However, you can use more expensive services for an early morning delivery time.

6. Ship early in the week 

If you ship right before a weekend or holiday, your shipments could get stuck in a hot warehouse for several days. To avoid this, ship early in the week, and check your carrier’s policy on weekend and holiday delivery. 

7. Communicate with the buyer

All your efforts will be for naught if a package ends up sitting on a sunny doorstep for hours. Provide package tracking so the buyer can see when their shipment is on the way. You should also label packages so recipients know the contents need to be refrigerated. 

Dive into the specifics of temperature-controlled shipping

If you’re looking for a product-specific cold shipping guide, we’ve got you covered. Check out our other articles for more detailed information on shipping the following goods:

And if you’re looking for ways to streamline one of the most tedious parts of shipping—label creation—EasyPost can help! Our Shipping API allows you to automatically compare carrier rates, determine the fastest and most affordable shipping method for each package, and generate compliant shipping labels.

Get started for free.