There are a lot of reasons why you might buy a cooler. It could be because they are resilient against wear and tear, you can take it anywhere, or because it looks neat. Regardless of why you get one, you will still want it to do its job and keep the contents cold.
One of the essential functions of a cooler is the retention of ice. This is especially the case if you’re taking it on long trips in the summer. Your ideal cooler will resist the heat and any knocks and bumps it gets whilst you’re out and about.
Most coolers have several inches of insulation inside every surface along with being a single unit and having a gasket equivalent to what freezers have. If you’ve been thinking to yourself ‘how long does ice last in a cooler?’, then this is what you need to consider when buying a cooler. However, we’ve made things easier for you. In the section below, you’ll find 10 ice cooler tips that will teach you how to keep a cooler cold the longest.
Keeping Your Cooler Cold: Ten Tips
1 – MAKE IT COLD FIRST
It stands to reason that if your cooler is warm when you start to use it, the ice inside will melt faster. To avoid this, put an ice bag inside to lower the temperature, or put the cooler somewhere cold for a while.
2 – USE DOUBLE THE AMOUNT OF ICE COMPARED TO WHAT’S INSIDE
A good strategy is to have double the level of ice in your cooler compared to the contents. Generally, if you use up all the available space, a third of it should have your items, and the rest should have ice. The ice will be retained for longer if you use more of it.
3 – DRY ICE VS ICE
If you’ve ever thought ‘can you mix dry ice with regular ice?’, here’s an explanation for you. Dry ice exists at -109 degrees Fahrenheit. Normal ice exists at 0 degrees. If you have ice at 32 degrees, it will be melting rapidly. However, dry ice is much colder than zero and will last the longest. If you have a mixture of dry ice and normal ice, it should be fine, but it’s best to use dry ice.
4 – CUBES OR BLOCKS OF ICE
Ice that’s made in cubes will cool down the inside of the cooler at a faster pace, but ice in a block will stay frozen for longer. The best choice is to use both and find out what ratio works best for you and your needs.
5 – KEEP AIR OUTSIDE
If the cooler is open and the outdoor air gets in, then you’ll have problems. This is because the ice will melt faster thanks to cooling the surrounding air and not your contents. Empty gaps in the cooler should have something to occupy it, even if it’s just more ice.
6 – LEAVE WATER INSIDE
When the ice melts inside the cooler, it will form pools of water. It can be tempting to drain this away, but it works as insulation for the ice that’s left. You should keep any contents out of the water.
7 – STORE YOUR COOLER AWAY FROM THE SUN
As you will know, the summer sun will very quickly heat up whatever it touches. If you keep your cooler away from direct sunlight, the ice will last much longer. If you can’t find any cooler spots, you can put coverings over the top instead.
8 – OPEN THE COOLER INFREQUENTLY
The more you expose your cooler to the hot outdoor air, the more it will warm up inside. The hot air will enter the cooler as the cold air exits. This will then melt the ice more quickly. A handy tip is to use tape to mark out the sections of the cooler on the lid so that everyone can get what they want easily.
9 – DRY ICE IN COOLER SPACE IS THE BEST
If you have a hard cooler or ice bucket, then you should use dry ice inside. It will keep the contents of your cooler colder for longer than normal ice will. If a friend says to you ‘Can I use dry ice in a cooler?’, then tell them that not only can they use dry ice, but it’s the best option.
10 – SPECIAL ICE PACKS WILL HELP TOO
If you’re dedicated to keeping the contents of your cooler as cold as possible, then you can seek out specially made ice packs that are optimized for coolers.
BONUS TIP – USE ROCK SALT
Rock salt has a chilling effect, so it’s great for use in coolers. You can use some like this:
- Fill up your cooler completely with the contents and the ice
- Add plenty of salt on top
- Seal the cooler
- Wait for half an hour
BE A COOLER PROFESSIONAL
Once you’ve got your ice, your contents, and your layers, that’s it. You’ll have a great experience with your cooler and keep your contents cold for longer.