Whether you’re heading to the beach for the day, away camping for the weekend, or spending your afternoon at a backyard barbeque – an icebox is a must-have for keeping your fresh food and drinks chilled.
Not all iceboxes are made equal, many look nice on the outside but have inefficient insulation on the inside. In this article, we’ve put together some pointers on choosing the best one for your adventures.
Choosing your icebox
Make sure you buy an icebox from a reputable icebox manufacturer such as Evakool or Dometic, this will ensure you get the most out of your icebox or esky at your next barbecue or camping trip.
When deciding on your model, it’s also important to consider how functional the size will be when it’s jam-packed with food and drink. It might be better to have two smaller boxes that you can lift easily, then one larger and unmanageable one.
Now that you’ve selected the right one, here are our very best tips to help you make your ice last longer in your cooler…
1. Prepare your icebox
Spread a layer of crushed ice around your icebox the day or night before you use it. A bag of crushed ice costs around $5 – but don’t worry it won’t be wasted. By cooling down your icebox and the air inside, in advance, you’re doing half the job of the ice you’ll put in later.
2. Use block ice
Crushed ice is full of space and air which means there isn’t much actual solid ice, so it melts quickly leaving you with an icebox of cold water. Block ice is a solid mass of ice. It will keep your icebox as cold as crushed ice but won’t melt as quickly.
You can buy block ice in soft and hard packs that make handling and packing easy, or icepacks as available here. Alternatively, you can make your own using ice cream containers or juice bottles, remembering to only part-fill them to allow for expansion.
Frozen ice blocks – they can be old bottles or ice cream containers if you want – are better than crushed ice.
3. Add some salt to your ice
Adding salt to the water before freezing lowers the freezing temperature of the water, meaning that your ice will actually be colder than frozen freshwater. Using seawater will work even better than adding your own salt to the water.
4. Cool your drinks and food first
Your icebox will perform at its best if you cool down the contents to go inside first. Place your food items in a fridge for a few hours first, then put the cold contents into the icebox. This way you’re saving your ice from having to cool the contents down, which in turn makes the ice last longer.
If you don’t have room in the fridge, put your drinks in the crushed ice you’re using to cool the icebox down with.
5. Adding the beers!
If you’re putting drinks in your icebox, leave the crushed ice in (from tip #1 above) even if it’s already half-melted. The cold water will help to slow your block ice from melting.
Always keep your Icebox away from the sun and under shade as much as possible.
6. Keep it out of the sun
The sun is your worst enemy in preserving your ice for obvious reasons. Keep your icebox in the shade as much as possible and ensure there is good airflow around the box. Sitting the icebox inside your tent or car is like putting it in an oven as temperatures can often climb 10 – 20 degrees higher than outside.
You could even cover your icebox with a blanket or towel to shade it from the sun. If you’re at the beach, a wet towel will work even better.
7. Avoid opening your icebox too much
This is obvious, but every time you open your icebox not only do you let the heat in but you let the cold out. Avoid opening your icebox too much, and do so gently as well.
Here’s a tip! Rather than dashing to the main icebox every 10 minutes to grab another cold one, move enough drinks to a smaller icebox or a soft-sided cooler bag to get you through a session. That way you’re only having to open the main icebox once, and you don’t go thirsty.
8. Fill your icebox as much as you can
An icebox packed to the brim will preserve its ice longer than a part-filled icebox of air. The more food or drinks you have in your icebox, the less air you will have which would otherwise need to be cooled down and kept cold.
What do you do to keep ice longer in your icebox?
About the writer...
G’day! My name is Dave and there is nothing I enjoy more than getting out in the bush and enjoying the challenge and serenity of travelling around this beautiful country of ours.
After 6 years working as an Outdoor Ed Instructor, I’ve joined the team down at Snowys to help others get geared up and head to the outback!
As an enthusiastic photographer and freelance writer for 4WD Action magazine, I love to get out and capture God’s stunning creation and share it with the world.
After getting married at the end of 2010 and having our first child January 2012, I’m looking forward to seeing more of this beautiful country with my family.