Co2 Food Grade vs Regular Industrial Co2 - What Co2 gas Cylinder should I use from my Co2 Supplier?

Determining Whether a CO2 Gas Cylinder Is for Food or Industrial Use

Filling your CO2 cylinder is never just a one-size-fits-all task. Depending on what you’re using the CO2 for, obtaining the correct gas type is imperative to achieve your desired result.

Many people assume that industrial and food-grade CO2 consists of the same gas. Hence, they are interchangeable with one another. However, failing to refill your tanks with the appropriate grades of gas could potentially produce some unsavory results. This could possibly lead to defective or unusable products.

Industrial-grade CO2 is typically used for factories, construction projects. This includes welding, supermarkets, and entertainment companies that provide effects for concerts and movies. Food-grade CO2 has more particular standards because of its food prep and beverages use.

Even the slightest nuances can compromise the finished product, leading to poor tasting beer or leaving sodas with unsatisfactory amounts of CO2. Other variables play a role in the quality of the final product that centers around the CO2 and the cylinder you use, and we’ll cover all of them in the following article.

The Uses of a CO2 Tank

Carbon dioxide, otherwise known as CO2, is a beneficial gas suitable for different types of food and industrial applications. Some of the primary uses for carbon dioxide include:

  • Water carbonation or other beverages, including beer, requires the use of CO2. This happens in bottling facilities and small-scale restaurant operations for single-serving purposes.
  • Beer is kept “on tap” at bars, and restaurants need CO2 for carbonation.
  • Manufacturing plants use CO2 to remove excess air in pre-packaged foods. This removal offers protection for the packaged food and allows longer preservation.
  • Fire extinguishing systems, including hand-held extinguishers or fixed overhead units, require CO2 depending on what type of fire they’re battling.
  • Dry ice pellet production used for the industrial, pharmaceutical, and food and beverage industries relies heavily on CO2.

Because of its versatility and use in multiple industries, CO2 is easily marketed in multiple industries but must be stored and categorized according to the intended use. Let’s look at any potential differences in storage cylinders for these two grades.

Storage of an Industrial and Food Grade CO2 Cylinder

Usually, the storage of industrial-grade CO2 doesn’t require any special instructions regarding the type of cylinder used. However, food-grade does have specific recommendations to achieve the best results.

Using aluminum cylinders with glass interior surfaces produces optimal results. Purging the cylinder ensures any remaining traces of older gas don’t compromise subsequent refills.

The style of tank described above is most often used to brew beer or bottle soda. Other situations like dispensing soda at restaurants can potentially achieve satisfactory results from using steel tanks, assuming they’ve been purged and cleaned correctly.

Purchasing a high-quality tank makes a massive difference in the quality of your final food or beverage product. For easy online ordering, providers like Cryo FX maintain a healthy inventory of high-quality cylinders.

What’s the Difference?

So, what exactly makes each category of CO2 usable for specific lines of work? It all boils down to the impurities.

When workers insert CO2 in the cylinders, adulterants end up inside the mixture – even at low numbers (1% or less), these contaminants make a noticeable difference. Benzene, acetaldehyde, ethylene, and oxygen are just a few examples of the 1% of impurities, while CO2 makes up the other 99% of the tank’s volume.

Also, these additional gases dictate how pure the CO2 is and, in the end, ultimately decide which forms of each CO2 mixture are acceptable for any given field of work. A grading system tracks the purity levels of each cylinder, earning them a sticker showcasing the purity level.

The difference between industrial and food-grade CO2 doesn’t just rely on the information contained on the label. Labels indicate the purity of CO2, which ultimately dictates its use:

Technical (or industrial) CO2: purity typically falls between 95% and 99%

  • Pure CO2: Between 99% and 99.99%
  • Very Pure CO2: The difference here is in the fraction of a percentage

What are the specific guidelines laid out by food and beverage companies and the enforcement arms that oversee these guidelines?

Specific Measurements for Your CO2 Gas Cylinder In Beverage Use

Even though the FDA regulates the labeling of CO2 gas cylinders based on the actual contents and the concentrations of various gases, different enforcement arms exist for this quality control. These organizations establish purity levels based on the quality of the products produced by the CO2 in a cylinder.

Companies use these guidelines to ensure a satisfactory outcome for brewing beer, dispensing beverages, and preparing other food items. Some of these regulatory organizations include:

  • The Compressed Gas Association (CGA)
  • Society of Beverage Technologists (ISBT)
  • European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA)

The majority of these organizations state that for the quality production of food and beverage products, CO2 concentrations must be at 99.9%. Additionally, it’s required that any facility manufacturing CO2 for food and beverage purposes must have a clearly defined system for measuring the quality of all outgoing gas.

Furthermore, any food plants using CO2 to process raw or prepacked foods must incorporate an assessment of their food safety risks regarding the safe handling of items reliant on CO2. Regulations are slightly different for companies that dispense or create beverage products on a large scale.

ISBT Guidelines

The ISBT publishes guidelines and best practices for using carbon dioxide for multiple purposes. Their references to bulk carbon dioxide use for soda and beverage products contain a more comprehensive outline regarding quality control.

In the United States, any CO2 tank used for beverage dispensing or bottling purposes must maintain a purity level of 99.90%. Several different items make up the remaining 0.10%, including hydrocarbons like benzene and standard molecules like water and oxygen.

Furthermore, the production or source of the CO2 is just as important as the concentration levels. Usually, gases like oxygen and argon are created as byproducts of the movement of air. However, commercial quantities of CO2 are made due to ethanol production, chemical synthesis, and natural gas production.

Also, shortages of various production sources may trigger the need for new sources of carbon dioxide. The number of impurities in these new sources may vary depending on their quality. This is why constant inspections for quality control must occur along the supply chain.

Luckily, these regulatory agencies and quality assessments exist to avoid significant issues, but mistakes are still possible. What happens when the wrong gas concentrations accidentally make it into circulation when the situation requires higher quality?

What Happens When We Use the Wrong Grade of CO2?

When it comes to the food industry, the quality of your product makes or breaks your business. If you’ve ever cooked before, which I’m assuming you have, you understand how even the most minor addition of ingredients impacts the flavor of a dish.

Look at CO2 gas cylinders the same way regarding their role in the food and beverage industry. However, any change in the gas contained in a co2 cylinder can completely alter how something tastes.

The wrong contaminants in food and drinks may also have significant health impacts. If a consumer eats or drinks something at your establishment and falls ill, there’s a chance that an inspector will show up and examine the contents of your cylinders and take samples.

What's more, if any gases are found to contain harmful adulterants because of failure to purge or use the proper tanks or gases properly, you could be held accountable. Correct hoses and other components ensure your food and beverage gases aren’t compromised.

Remember, always use the highest grade of CO2 possible for any food and beverage purposes from your co2 supplier, and use purged co2 tanks to ensure cleanliness. Following these guidelines guarantees your products end up the way you intended them to from the beginning and avoid any possible health hazards.

 

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