Here is a look at how to make sure that your cooler works as it should.
Buying a good-quality cooler is key to ensuring that perishables stay cold for much longer (have a look at some of our recommendations). However, there are several factors that you should consider to maximize the cold time your cooler gives you when you are away.
Cool the Cooler
One of the biggest mistakes people make is putting their ice and food in a cooler without cooling it first. There are many types of the cooler, however, they all need prep for best results.
Consider getting a bag of ice and throw it into your cooler for a couple of hours before you start packing. Once the cooler has cooled, through the ice out and pack your stuff. This way, your cooler won’t be starting out at room temperature. As a result, your food will remain just as cold as it was in the fridge.
The Type Of Ice You Use Matters
While the ice you get from your local gas station is the easiest and most popular way to get ice, it isn’t the best option. This ice tends to melt relatively fast and will soon end up as a pool of water. It’s probably okay if you use it as ice for your drinks and if your cooler is well-insulated; however, try and avoid using the ice to cool food since your food could end up either warm, soggy, or both.
Carry Two Coolers
Connected to the previous point, it’d probably be wise if you took two coolers with you – one for food and the other for drinks, that is if you can afford it and have space. This can present you with numerous benefits.
The drinks cooler will likely have heavier traffic, and heavy traffic means that the specific cooler will be opened and closed regularly allowing warm air to get in as cold air escapes. With two coolers, the food cooler will only be opened when it’s absolutely necessary and people can refill their glasses whenever they want. It is a win-win situation really.
Pack Frozen Food First
Not all foods can be frozen; however, if you have food that can be frozen, freeze it and pack it first. This way it will stay cool for much longer and will cool the foods that cannot be frozen for long.
Freeze Your Water
If there are any free spaces in your cooler, then consider filling them up with a couple of frozen bottles of drinking water. Unlike ice cubes, frozen bottles of drinking water (or any other water) will stay frozen for long, and will, therefore, keep food cooler for longer. And the good thing about this is that long after the cooler holding your drinks has gone warm, the cold drinking water could be quite handy. There is no harm in placing a couple of frozen water bottles in your drinks cooler as well – that is if there is space – since they’ll help keep your drinks cooler for longer.
Pack The Cooler Really Tight
Spaces allow air to pass through a cooler and this could make it and its contents warm quicker than it should. Do your best to ensure that all the space in your cooler is filled with either a frozen water bottle or ice pack.
Pack It Right
There’s a correct and incorrect way to packing a cooler
– Start by placing a layer of ice blocks at the bottom of your cooler.
– Place the meat next (hopefully, it is frozen)
– If there’s still space, fill it up by adding a layer of ice blocks
Next follows packages and sealed items as the second layer, followed by whatever else you may want to pack at the top of the cooler – mostly delicate items. Food shouldn’t take up more than 60% of a cooler’s storage capacity, especially if you want to keep it colder for no less than 3 days. Fill up the rest of the space with some ice blocks.
Store The Cooler Away From The Direct Sun
Ensure that you store your cooler out of the direct sun at all times. If need be, cover it with a blanket or tarp to increase its insulation.
Use Dry Ice
Use dry ice on top of food and make sure that it’s wrapped in newspaper to keep it from damaging your icebox. Avoid touching dry ice with your bare hands, and only ever use it if you plan on transporting your cooler in the back of a truck or in your car’s trunk. Dry ice emits carbon dioxide gas, which is quite dangerous. Please note: always store a cooler that you’ve used dry ice in away from your pets and tent. For more tips about using dry ice in a cooler, read the following article.