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I use the General kit. its simple and very well built this is a tool that saves me a lot of time. The compressor type units are nice but unless you plan to use one alot not worth the investment plus its not a tool that you want bouncing around in your truck. Both tools do have the same drawback if the water is moving you will not freeze it.
I've never heard about wrapping it in a towel. How long does that take to freeze? There is an article on this dry ice website that says to make an insulated box with dry ice in it... and that takes 10 minutes to freeze up. That is interesting, because a towel would be quite a bit easier! thanks!
I've done this the couple times I've had to freeze a pipe. Take some dry ice put it in a towel smash it as well as I can with a hammer to make small pieces. Wrap it around the pipe. (In my cases they've been lead or copper lines ahead of the meter.
Wait a few minutes and check a faucet. You know the rest. Buying dry ice is cheap. Far cheaper than buying a kit I would use once every ten years.
You can also rent freeze kits to see what you think of them.
In stead of smashing the dry ice what it you took two blocks and formed a groove in each one to match half the OD of the pipe, then sandwich the two pieces of ice around the pipe to encapsulate it fully and wrap with blanket insulation. Much more surface area contact this way I think and better heat transfer out of the pipe and process fluid. Haven't tried it but this would seem to mimic the setup on the superfreeze blocks or when using CO2 with the blankets.
As far as what happens if you lose your freeze in the middle of the job well I think you know the answer to that. We calculate how much CO2 is required for the estimated job duration and then double the amount on hand so as to have enough to extend the job length by twice the estimated duration, just in case complications develop. Sounds excessive i know but where I do freeze seals there is no room for error and they better not fail.
"When we build let us think we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work that our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone upon stone, that a time is to come when these stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, "See! This our fathers did for us."
John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)