Does Bubble Wrap Keep Things Cold?


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Bubble wrap is mainly seen as a way to protect goods while they are being shipped. Then once the item has been shipped and delivered, the bubble wrap gets thrown out. However, bubble wrap has a temperature regulating secret use that can be very helpful when trying to re-purpose it.

Bubble wrap does keep things cold. The closely-spaced air pockets act as a surprisingly effective insulator. As such, bubble wrap and can be very useful when trying to keep something cold or hot.

Keep reading to find out more about insulation, how bubble wrap works as an insulator, and some surprising ways you can put this new information to use.

Basics of insulation.

To understand insulation, it is very important to understand the basics of heat and how heat travels. Heat has three main mechanisms of movement: conduction, convection, and radiation. 

Regardless of the method in which heat is moving, heat always moves from warmest to coolest to try and equalize the overall temperature of the space.

Insulation works by slowing the movement of heat, keeping cooler locations cooler for longer. Typically, this is done by absorbing heat; therefore, not allowing it to transfer to the cooler location. Additionally, temperature is regulated when insulating materials reflect heat waves and keep them away from colder areas.

There are many different materials used in the insulation process. These include:

  • Spray foam insulators: Spray foam expands when sprayed due to a chemical reaction. This creates air pockets that slow the transfer of heat. It also creates an air and watertight seal to further slow the transfer of heat.
  • Cellulose insulators: Cellulose insulation is environmentally friendly and is packed densely to obstruct the flow of air. However, it is not packed so densely that there is no room for air bubbles. This also helps to slow the transfer of heat
  • Rigid foam insulators: Rigid foam insulation comes on board like slabs that have small pockets of air inside. It is great for unfinished spaces and is extremely durable. It has excellent radiation insulation.

The one thing all of these different types of insulation have in common is the presence of air bubbles or pockets of air. Air acts as an excellent insulator when confined in small spaces.

Bubble wrap as an insulator.

Bubble wrap is made up of two things: plastic and air. Bubble wrap is an effective insulator because, as mentioned before, air is a good insulator. Again, this is especially true when the air is trapped in a small space like it is in bubble wrap.

Heat transfers when air molecules crash into each other and transfer heat energy. Air in an open space has a limitless amount of molecules to crash into and trade energy with, whereas air in trapped spaces has a limited amount of molecules to transfer with. This causes the pockets of air in bubble wrap to hold onto heat, rather than transferring it to the cooler space.

Bubble wrap can also act as a seal that stops airflow altogether if it is applied and sealed correctly.

Bubble wrap works as an insulator by keeping heat away from cold items. So technically, bubble wrap shields shield things from heat rather than keeping the cold in, but never mind the technicalities. Bubble wrap still does an excellent job of controlling and regulating temperature.

Brilliant uses for bubble wrap.

At this point, you know that bubble wrap keeps things cold, how it does so, but now you may be wondering, what are its uses? This section has all the answers! Here are many solutions for using up your extra bubble wrap:

  • Keep your fridge efficient. Lining various areas of your fridge with bubble wrap can maximize your fridge’s efficiency and keep your food colder. Put bubble wrap on your shelves, drawers, and bottom of your fridge to ensure no unwelcomed heat is sneaking its way into your fridge. An added bonus is better protection for your products and any other fragile items. Plus, removing the bubble wrap makes for an easy clean.
  • Line your grocery bag to make for a simple but effective cooler. Don’t rush home on your way from the grocery store. Wrap your frozen goods in bubble wrap to ensure they stay cold and fresh on your commute home. Now, no more worries of melted ice cream or spoiled milk!
  • Keep your toilet from sweating. Fluctuating temperatures make for a damp and messy bathroom. This can be easily avoided with bubble wrap! Empty out the toilet tank and cover the sides in bubble wrap, securing with glue. This will regulate tank temperature and keep you free and clear of condensation.
  • Guard your plants against frost and harsh weather. Bubble wrap tents are a great way to keep frost away from your plants. Prepare for harsh weather by fashioning a shelter out of bubble wrap and wire. The bubble wrap will shield the plants while trapping the heat in.
  • Keep warm while camping. Wrapping yourself in bubble wrap may sound a bit strange, but it can be quite practical when you’re enjoying a night under the stars. Lining your sleeping bag with bubble wrap can add another layer of insulation and help you stay warm through the night.
  • Insulate your windows. Spray your windows with water and then press firmly to secure the bubble wrap. This will help prevent any drafts and keep heat in during the winter. In the summer, this can help keep your house cool as well.
  • Save yourself from frozen pipes. Wrapping your pipes in bubble wrap can save you from the hassle of broken pipes. The bubble wrap adds an extra layer of temperature regulation that can help keep your pipes at a sustainable temperature.
  • Keep greenhouses warm. For an added layer of protection, cover your greenhouse walls in bubble wrap. This will ensure no heat is escaping during the cold winter months and will keep your plants growing beautifully and healthily.
  • Save time defrosting your windshield. Scraping your windshield in the winter is one of the biggest pains of the season. Save time and energy by placing a sheet of bubble wrap on your window for an easy defrost. The insulative properties will keep all the ice off your windshield. Then, just roll up the bubble wrap for easy removal.
  • Keep beverages cold. Wrapping your soda cans or glasses in bubble wrap can make an excellent makeshift cozy. Wrap up your drinks to prevent condensation and to keep your drinks chilly longer. Never drink a room temperature drink again!
  • Stay warm at night. Placing a sheet between your sheet and comforter can add another layer of insulation. This will trap all your body heat in, and help you stay warmer. If you’re habitually cold, this is an excellent solution.

These are just a few of the things that can be accomplished with extra bubble wrap. The uses span as far as one’s imagination. The possibilities are endless.

Final Thoughts

Certainly, bubble wrap can absolutely be used to keep things cold. Bubble wrap acts as an excellent insulator. The small air bubbles do an excellent job of slowing down the transfer of heat between air molecules.

Though this may seem trivial to some, it is only because they don’t see the potential that it holds. So the next time you get a package and are tempted to throw out your bubble wrap, repurpose it instead! There are so many options and ways to use bubble wrap to control all of your temperature needs.

Jake Alexander

Jake is a freelance writer from Pennsylvania who enjoys writing about science and sports. When he's not writing for Temperature Master, he can be found watching the NFL or playing basketball with his friends.

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