How to Choose the Perfect Insulated Shipping Container

insulated shipping container

Shipping containers are an important part of the supply chain. If you’re interested in an insulated shipping container, you most likely need to transport goods that have special logistics needs.

This kind of shipping container will help you to keep your goods safe until they reach their destination. Still, you’ll have a few things to consider if you want to choose the perfect shipping container.


Keep reading to learn more about how to choose the perfect insulated shipping container.

What Is an Insulated Shipping Container?

You may wish to operate in an industry that sells perishable items like chemicals, food, or medicine. These and other like goods are temperature-sensitive and require that you manage their environment consistently, a process called maintaining the cold chain.

However, a standard shipping container alone often can’t support the conditions needed to maintain a cold environment during transport.

These goods require a stable environment. Accordingly, you want to use a special insulated container inside of a standard container to ensure that your items stay in good condition. A stable environment will prevent your perishable goods from rotting or spoiling.

Also, different goods require different environmental treatments. An insulated shipping container enables you to meet this demand.

Why Choose an Insulated Container?

A standard metal shipping container has a thin metallic wall. The wall can transfer unwanted external conditions to the inside of the container.

Conversely, an insulated container prevents the transfer of external conditions such as temperature. They also help to minimize condensation that may occur due to rainwater and other moisture that can find its way inside a metal shipping container.

Benefits of Insulated Shipping Containers

Many industries make use of insulated shipping containers. They’re essential for transporting sensitive, nondurable goods.

The most important responsibility when transporting this kind of material is ensuring that you don’t break the cold chain. An insulated container enables you to manage this need.

For instance, an insulated container enables you to ship fresh products and maintain that freshness. You can also use an insulated shipping container to transport drugs and medicines.

Get More Done with Insulated Metal Containers

Within an insulated container, you can prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms inside your perishable products.

An insulated container is ideal for shipping perishable goods for relatively short distances. Still, you can also use an insulated container for long-term storage of your perishable goods.

Metal containers are a cost-effective structure for storage. In fact, it may surprise you to find out how cost-effective it is to use a 40-foot container to store perishable goods. For example, you might pay less than two dollars a day to store a 40-foot container at a local depot.

With an insulated container, you can also protect your perishable shipments from sudden temperature changes. By doing so, you can make sure that your shipment is always within the temperature range needed to keep your products safe for consumption.

Types of Insulated Shipping Containers

There are several types of insulated shipping containers. Let’s go over them so that you can better determine which one might serve your shipping needs.

Ice Totes

An ice tote has foam-filled double walls. It provides excellent temperature control. You might use an ice tote, for instance, if you’re a food processor, wholesale seafood retailer, or winery.

Dry Ice Totes

Manufacturers make the walls of dry ice totes using compounded-melt blend low-density polyethylene plastic. The construction of the walls enables them to resist external heat transfer.

You might use this kind of insulated shipping container if you need to transport perishable items for a short distance. Dry ice totes are ideal for shipping frozen goods, such as ice cream and dry ice.

Specialty Containers

Under other circumstances, you may need to chill, defrost or otherwise handle your perishable goods during transport. In that case, you might choose a specialty insulated container for shipping.

A specialty shipping container enables operators, for instance, to sort, grade, and store seafood. It also enables them to cut product thawing time in half. In many instances, you’d see this kind of container used on maritime vessels.

Display Containers

Finally, you may have another kind of special shipment. For instance, you may need to ship perishable goods for display at a market, supermarket, or exhibition.

In this case, you might choose an insulated merchandise or display container for your shipping needs. This kind of container is portable. Also, it enables you to keep your goods fresh without the use of mechanical refrigeration.

Protecting Perishable Shipments

It’s also possible for you to insulate an entire shipping container. In other words, you’d use certain materials to create an environment in the steel shipping container that’s safe for shipping your perishable goods.

The technique that you’d use, however, will vary depending on the conditions that you must create. With this in mind, you must consider a few things when it comes to maintaining the required state for your shipment.

Heat movement is consistent unless you take measures to prevent it. The prevention of heat movement is the purpose of insulation.

The following are a few techniques that you can use to prevent heat movement in a standard metal shipping container.


You can prevent heat movement by encasing your shipment in a double layer. The double-layer will maintain the environment between the layers much in a way that a thermos flask does the same.

The layers will create a vacuum. The vacuum will prevent the transfer of heat between the inner and outer atmosphere of the standard shipping container.

Many operators prefer to use this method whenever possible. It’s very cost-effective container insulation.

Initially, you’ll need a coolant to bring down the temperature of the container. Once you’ve brought the container down to the right temperature, however, the vacuum of the layers will help to maintain the needed environment to ship your goods safely.

Using Ice and Gel

Ice and gel packs are another way to modify the temperature inside of a standard shipping container. If you ship perishable goods frequently, you may want to opt for gel packs because they’re reusable.

Also, gel packs stay colder than ice. In addition, some gel packs help you to comply with FDA shipping guidelines for perishable goods.

Cooling with Gas

You can also use gas-filled chambers to control the environment in a standard shipping container. You could use a gas-filled chamber to change the environment in the entire container. Alternatively, you could use it to change the environment around a select number of pallets.

Gases conduct heat poorly. Often, shippers will create a gas-filled chamber by using inert gas to serve as a wall between two environments.

On other occasions, however, a shipper might load up bubble wrap with this kind of gas. In this way, they can ensure the safety of delicate products by preventing heat transfer around a specific section of the cargo.

Material Options

You can also use various materials to create an insulated metal shipping container. For instance, you can incorporate materials that absorb heat into the walls of a standard shipping container. In this way, you can absorb and scatter heat from the environment.

For example, you might use liners specially made to line the walls of a standard container that absorbs heat. Alternatively, you might use thermal blankets to wrap individual pallets rather than the entire container.

As you can see, there are several tactics you can use to secure perishable shipments. However, there’s one practice you’ll want to avoid. That practice is using the same tactic for all shipments.

You must continually evaluate your perishable shipping needs. An insulating method that works for one shipment or product may not work for another. As a result, it’s important to reevaluate your container insulating strategy each time you plan a different kind of shipment.

It can prove challenging to choose the right method to insulate many different types of perishable goods and shipments. Fortunately, an experienced shipping container supplier can help—more on finding a great shipping container supplier in a moment.

Environmental Concerns for Insulated Containers

Finally, there’s one last thing you need to consider when planning insulation for your shipments. You must consider the climate where your goods will travel.

For example, you might plan to transport your perishable goods across a region that stays cold enough to meet the cooling requirements for your shipment. In that case, you may not need to insulate your shipment at all.

Alternatively, you might live in an area that has an ideal climate, such as Southern California. Although this kind of weather is beautiful, however, it may not stay cool enough to keep your shipment safe.

With these points in mind, you’ll need to consider the climate along the shipping route for your goods. If you’re not sure about how to meet your shipping insulation needs, no worries. Tuff Shipping Containers can help you pick the right insulation for your shipments.

Need a Shipping Container? We Can Help!

Hopefully, you now understand a bit more about picking the perfect insulated shipping container. If you need a shipping container, we can meet your needs and help you choose the right method for insulating your perishable goods.

Tuff Shipping Containers is a nationwide service provider. For more than 12 years, we’ve served businesses and communities across the United States.

Today, it’s challenging to source shipping containers as needed. We connect steel storage containers, metal shipping containers, and Conex box sellers, buyers, and renters across the United States. Also, we’re proud to say we’re an employee-owned, U.S.-based service provider.

Don’t struggle to secure shipping containers for your goods. Please feel free to contact us today for a fast, free quote.


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