Update 2020: I came to revise the post after just handling another large shipping moment and re-reading it.. we still do this! We’ve stuck it out with USPS but their current guidelines on Priority are slipping a bit so that might change in the future. Overall though these instructions have been tried and tested over 10 years and still do today. There will always be more expensive solutions and if you have specialty cases might need more attention to detail or cooling power but overall, for the bulk of the chocolates we send this packaging will work and is very budget friendly.
While the winter has been long, and cold, and seeming to never lighten up it has been good for our chocolate shipments. However, now that the seasonal clock is edging closer to warm we all have to start watching weather forecasts for areas we are shipping to–judging whether or not extra protection is needed to keep our delicate chocolates safe.
While many of our local customers let us do their shipping to friends and family for them we have many that want to do it themselves so they can add other things to the mix.
Shipping Chocolate, the rules
Quick rule of thumb; chocolate solids usually melt closer to body temperature (80’s+) while ganaches like to melt at room temperature (70’s). If you are doing something special research your melting points so you can be on top of how much cooling might be necessary.
Keep it Cold
Something that is cold to start will stay colder longer. Why waste your cooling energy on making something cold. Keep it refrigerated until the time you need to pack.
- A box that is at least 2-3x the size of the gift you are sending.Space allows for crunch room by bad shipping agents as well as keeping heat farther away from the chocolate in your package.
- Bubble-wrap mylarIt’s a mylar (silver-colored) coated bubble-wrap that works great as heat deflection and insulator while keeping the product snug.
- Cold packsYour transit time and heat through travel is going to dictate the size and amount of these. Usually with a small box (9 X 6.5 X 4) might only need one 2-4oz packet. Remember if your package gets there and the pack is just exhausted you’ve done your job. The contents happily traveled at somewhere in the 50′-60′ range. Putting this little pack in a ziplock or wrapping it in some newspaper will help insure it doesn’t sweat on your package. I would highly suggest USPS Priority or UPS 3 Day select for most summer deliveries, next day for those in places with scorching temperatures.
- Additional packing materialKraft paper, bubble wrap, it doesn’t really matter here. You just want something to pack comfortably to create stability inside your box.
Let’s bring it all together. You have your box of chocolates and now a menagerie of items around you for building a shipping container that will go anywhere.
Under best circumstances you will want to do these steps right before you go to your shipping agent. Also find out when the final pickups of the day are with your carrier so you can be there right before they pickup. This all allows for the longest duration of keeping cold during transit.
- Build your box
- Tape all the seams (to slow air ala heat exchange)
- Measure enough mylar wrap for the bottom of your package (one more level of shielding)
- Pull the chocolate box out of it’s cold storage
- Wrap (or ziplock) ice pack
- Stack chocolate box with ice pack and pull enough mylar out to fully wrap, cut
- Package chocolates like you would a gift, make sure the ends are tucked and taped. Here you’ve got a nice cold core
- Add padding materials to the bottom of the box
- Add chocolate package
- Fill in gaps of packing material
- Add a mylar shield to the top of the package
- Close the package, tape/seal the edges
With this much preparation your gift should be received in beautiful condition and ready to devour. This works for us and we’ve sent chocolate from South Florida to Southern California during August.
Got a packing tip? Let us know! While it took us months of test shipments to happy family around the country we’re always learning!