Coolers that Keep Ice Longest – Ice Melting Hacks
Not all coolers are created equal, but there is plenty you can do to turn an ordinary cooler into an amazing one, or a great cooler into an ice keeping machine. Let’s face it, coolers that keep ice the longest stay cold longer, its as simple as that.
Here are my amazing tips on how to keep ice from melting, but if you are looking for one of the best coolers on the market, check out my review on the Yeti Tundra Haul Portable Wheel Cooler.
Cooling a cooler
A cooler’s job is to insulate, so if you start with a hot cooler you just grabbed out of a garage, or off a porch, it will burn most of an ice right away. The heat is not only trapped inside the cooler, but inside it’s walls and needs to be cooled down before use.
Ice a cooler at least four hours before you plan to use it, then throw that ice away and start with new ice. This sacrificial ice has already started melting and has become thin and weak and will melt fast even if mixed in with new fresh ice.
Packing it up.
You don’t want to over pack a cooler with food and drink. There should be twice as much ice as there are items. The items that do go in the cooler should be already cold, or better yet, frozen.
Air melts ice, so make sure a cooler is packed to the top. Cool air sinks to the bottom so pack food and drink in first. Make sure food is in water tight bags or containers to prevent water from getting in. The melted ice will water log food or worse, cross contaminate it and ruining the trip because everyone got the runs.
Ice ice baby
Not just any ice will do. The ice you buy at the store is usually hollow in the inside which not only traps air in a cooler melting it faster, but also has more surface area to melt.
If you have the extra time and space in the freezer you should make your own ice called block ice. Block ice is frozen solid and has less surface space which makes it melt slower.
You can make block ice by freezing any leak proof break away container, like empty ice cream cartons or even water balloons. Once completely frozen, just break the ice block free from its container. Use smaller ice to fill in any gaps in a cooler from a larger block ice.
Maintaining it cold
Hard part is done. Cooler has been pre-chilled, properly stocked, got the best possible ice in it, now what? First thing you need to do when you arrive to a destination is find a shady spot, this may require moving a cooler a few times a day as the sun moves, but worth the hassle. Heat is a coolers enemy.
If a cooler does not have legs or wheels that prop it up off the ground, doing so is your next step. Air flow under the cooler is almost as important as keeping it out of the sun. You can prop it up using rocks, branches, or with what ever will do the trick.
Keep ice stocked, don’t let it melt away allowing a cooler to rise in temperature making the next bag of ice you put in have to work harder to bring down the temperature. Remember the more air in the cooler the faster the ice will melt so don’t drain the water unless you have to, just add more ice.
Lastly and probably the hardest thing to do is just keep it shut. The more you open a cooler the faster it will melt, so only open a cooler when necessary and make sure the lid is securely closed.
Extreme results require extreme action
Want to take saving ice even further? Try wrapping it in a wet towel or even burying it in the ground. Better yet, line the inside and even the outside of a cooler with reflectix.
Reflectix is a foil faced bubble wrap used for insulation in homes. It is thin, light, inexpensive and works great at keeping a cooler cold. You can easily find it at any hardware store or online. Use a durable waterproof glue like epoxy to make sure it stays on.
You get what you pay for
Remember, not all coolers are created equal. These tips and tricks will help any cooler stay cold longer, but there is only so much you can do with a cheap low end cooler which may be fine for a day or two use. If you are looking for a high quality cooler that will stay cold for days, check out my review on the Yeti Tundra Haul Cooler on Wheels.