- Use a light colored container that will reflect sunlight and heat. It can be an ice bucket, a Styrofoam® container, or a plastic container with lids.
- Metal such as stainless steel will hold in the heat allowing your ice to melt sooner.
- Line the container with the best material—aluminum foil that reflects heat, and one layer will do.
- Wrap the container with a towel or small blanket to hold in the cold.
Making Your Own Ice Cubes Rather Than Buying Ice
- Boil your cold water to reduce the amount of air bubbles in the ice. They will look like commercial ice that is glassy and clear.
- Cool the water before putting into plastic ice cube trays so the trays don’t melt.
- Use larger ice trays for larger ice cubes and smaller trays for smaller ice cubes. Remember that smaller ice melts faster.
- You can also use small plastic storage containers or muffin tins to have chunky ice.
- After the water has cooled, put the trays or containers in the freezer.
- To use, put a towel into your ice bucket or container then add the ice cubes. This insulates the ice keeping it cold. If you have bubble wrap, put it under the towel.
- Use a lid to keep the ice from melting from the ambient air temperature that is warmer.
- Keep the ice in a cool area that’s colder next to an air conditioner unit or air conditioner floor vent. Keep out of the sunlight and put under a tree if you are outside on the deck or in the yard.
- Keep your hot dishes of food away from the ice bucket.
- You can use the commercial ice paks that are frozen to keep your cubes from melting.
- If you use a large cooler, put frozen water in bottles to be additional ice paks.
- Keep the ice filled to the top of the cooler or container. This prevents the bottom ice from becoming too warm.
How to Keep Ice Longer in Your Cooler or Ice Chest
It does not matter what cooler brand you use. These guidelines will help you keep the ice longer for your backyard picnic or long trip.
- Put bags of crushed ice around your cooler the night before you plan to use it. Cooling the cooler this way helps the main ice you put it stay frozen.
- Put in the crushed ice minus any melted water.
- Add ice blocks or ice paks that don’t melt as fast.
- Make your own block ice by filling water bottles, milk cartons, and other plastic containers leaving a head space because water expands as it freezes.
- Adding ice cream salt to your water before you freeze it lowers the freezing temp of the water. This makes the frozen water colder than just water from the tap or boiled water. However, salt melts ice. We put in on the icy patches in the winter. So, put the salt in water bottles with water and not directly in the cooler with ice.
- Have your beers, sodas, and food cold before putting into the cooler and your ice will last longer.
- Keep the ice chest out of the sun. Do not put it in a tent! It’s hot in there. Keep in the shade of a tree if possible.
- Cover the entire ice chest or cooler with a large bath towel or blanket and if you can wet them—that’s even better.
- Try not to open the chest or cooler too much—the cold escapes and the heat moves in.
- A full-to-the-top ice chest is better at keeping things cold than a half-way full one. A full chest has less air to be cooled down.
- Don’t drain the melting ice water. Slushy icy water will keep your drinks cold. Be sure your food is in tight containers so not to become soggy from water. When you add new ice you can drain off the water.