There are different types of coolers you can use for shipping. Here is a list of some commonly used coolers and the ones I prefer to use best.
- First there is the recreational styrofoam cooler found at Walmart. It is affordable and can fit into a 14x14x14 cardboard shipping box also found at Walmart. Together they would not likely cost more than $10.
The downside is the cooler is small and most likely won't hold more than 150 ounces of breast milk plus dry ice. The cooler is also only about ¾" wall thickness and that makes it not a great insulator for shipping and also more fragile than commercial grade shipping coolers.
- Styrofoam shipping coolers are a much better option for shipping breast milk as they are durability tested for stresses from shipping exposures. The wall thickness is usually around 1 ½ up to 2 inches thick for quality insulation for your frozen goods. They also come with a fitted shipping box that says, "Perishable Goods" printed on it. Here are my preferred styrofoam shipping coolers.
- Polar Tech XM6C Thermo Chill:
This has an interior dimension of 12-¾" x 12-¾ x 12-½" and an exterior dimension of 15" x 15" x 15" shipping dimensions.
It holds up to around 500 oz breast milk plus dry ice. It is difficult to pack as it doesn't have a top lid; instead it is 2 halves you have to fill each half then carefully put together.
- Polar Tech Thermo Chill 261/J50C:
This has an interior dimension of 19" Length x 12" Width x 12 ½" Depth and an exterior shipping dimension of 22" Length x 15" Width x 16.
It holds up to around 700 ozbreast milk plus dry ice.
- Polar Tech 266C Thermo Chill:
This has an interior dimension of 19" Length x 12" Width x 16" Depth and an exterior shipping dimension of 22" Length x 15" Width x 19.
It holds up to around 850 oz breast milk plus dry ice.
- Polar Tech XM6C Thermo Chill:
- Bio-stable polyurethane foam coolers are my most preferred option and pretty much the only ones I use anymore for shipping breast milk. They are durability tested for stresses from shipping exposures, eco-friendly and can be thrown away in your trash. They don't crack or break like styrofoam, you won't get the little styrofoam balls in your breast milk shipment, insulate better, they come apart easily for an ability to lay flat in garbage, plus they can expand and have slits on the edges where CO² can escape eliminating the worry and risk when shipping breast milk with dry ice. I just make sure to not tape all the edges sealed.
The wall thickness is usually around 1 ½" up to 2" thick for quality insulation for your frozen goods. They also come with a fitted shipping box that says, "Perishable Goods" printed on it.
* The one downside is that because they are designed to be pulled out and lay flat for easy disposal, they are in three pieces that fit together like a cube. This means most of the edges are not sealed at all.
How we work around that is we take the cubed cooler out, then tape all the edges together securely except the top. Then when we put it back into the shipping box. When it's time to ship, we will make sure not to fully tape all the edges on the lid so that CO² gas from the dry ice can escape. Can't ever be too careful with precious breast milk!
Here are my preferred styrofoam shipping coolers.
- EmmChill SF14A
This has an interior dimension of 12" Length x 12" Width x 12" Depth and an exterior dimension of 14" Length x 14" Width x 14.
It holds up to around 225 oz breast milk plus dry ice.
- EmmChill SF17A
This has an interior dimension of 14" Length x 14" Width x 14" Depth and an exterior dimension of 17" Length x 17" Width x 17.
It holds up to around 700 oz breast milk plus dry ice.
- EmmChill SF14A
Packing Filler and Interior Insulation:
• Newspaper can be used to put in the coolers for insulation and filler. Depending on where you live and how ofter you ship breast milk, that could get pricey.
• Brown packing paper saved me money and goes a long way. It is thicker than newspaper so it serves as a great insulator. It also will keep the dry ice from cooling through the cooler very well because it's thicker. It is important to not use to brown packing paper and essentially block the dry ice from traveling down through the cooler to keep everything cold.
Shipping box and cooler tips:
• If you are shipping a heavy package it would be highly advised to use heavy duty shipping tape to tape the outside of the styrofoam coolers on the top and bottom to add some reinforcement. Then do the same with the shipping boxes. Better to use it and not need it, then not use it and lose out on all that precious breast milk. It has happened!
• Always use the heavy duty shipping tape to tape up your packages.
If you still have any further questions or if I have missed something useful that should be included, please let us know!