Summer is here and if you ship out a bunch of corals every week like I do, you’re going to need to keep them cool. Ice packs from most shipping supply companies cost anywhere from $1.00 – .50 cents each, that means I used to spend a few hundred dollars per year just on ice packs and you generally only have two size options. I have made ice packs out of gelatin in the past, but I find it to be messy, time consuming, and not vegan friendly. It had been in the back of my mind for awhile to try using water polymer crystals to make ice packs after seeing them used in floral arrangements, so I recently started doing it.
Water polymer crystals http://science.howstuffworks.com/dictionary/geology-terms/question581.htm are super absorbent polymers that can soak up a huge amount of water in gel form. I bought a 5 pound bag of water polymer crystals from eBay for $35, these crystals can uptake 80 gallons of water so my ice packs end up costing me pennies and they are super easy to make.
I take about 4 tbsps of water polymer crystals and toss it into a container filled with 8 cups of warm water. Using warm water will help the crystals grow faster. I leave them to absorb the water overnight, by the morning the crystals have soaked up nearly all of the water and are ready to be used. I use small bags to ship my frags and these work well for making ice packs. I fill the bag with crystals about three inches deep, loosely tie off the top, and then flatten it out so the ice pack will be easier to pack in a box. Then I put all the ice packs in the freezer. It takes about half a day for the ice packs to freeze solid. Since the crystals are in gel form they will stay frozen longer than water alone. These ice packs are reusable, they can be frozen and thawed many times. Water polymer crystals are earth safe and will biodegrade after about four years. Keep your shipments cool this summer and save some money while you’re at it.