Author Topic: would a cooler keep water & canned goods from freezing in winter longterm ?  (Read 6144 times)

Offline surfivor

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 An interesting option I started to wonder about and alternative to a root cellar in winter is that if I stored canned goods, water, juice and such in a large cooler, would that prevent the stuff from freezing if the temp got down to 0 or say -10 degrees ?

  Also, if I left the stuff in there all winter would it prevent it from freezing ? If the cooler was partially buried in the ground, or buried in snow, perhaps that would provide additional insulation. I wonder on this as the temp got down to 5 degrees at my BOL, but tea in the cooler did not freeze, that was only after a couple of days. I recall that an igloo made of ice or a snow shelter, keeps the temp at or above 32 degrees ..

update:

 I just unpacked my cooler after getting back from Maine and the tea is now partially frozen after transporting it in the back of my truck. I do wonder though if there is some kind of beverage or canned good that won't freeze until 31 or 30 degrees, maybe that would be a safer bet because maybe the cooler keeps the temp close to 32 ? 

I guess I might have to experiment or something, maybe if I added just a tad of alcohol to the water, even just 1% RV anti freeze or something it would be enough. Some of the water I may only need for washing dishes anyway or RV antifreeze is supposedly safe to drink, though I would not try to drink alot of it by any means ..

 An idea for storing canned goods might be to submerge the cans in a solution of water with RV antifreeze and then put that inside of a large cooler. As long as the cans don't corrode (not sure on that). It seems that might keep them from freezing and possibly allow storage of them outdoors in the winter ..



« Last Edit: December 18, 2010, 01:16:49 AM by surfivor »

Offline reefmarker

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A cooler will only slow down the freezing (or thawing) of stuff.  It won't stop the stuff from freezing.  If the outside temp stays below the freezing temp of the material inside the cooler, then the material inside will freeze.

The only way to depress the freezing point is to add material to the liquid.  Unfortunately, that doesn't give you much to work with.  Sugar is a huge molecule and to add enough sugar to depress the freezing point even a few degrees with make the water too sugary to drink!

Submerging cans in a solution of water with antifreeze in it will probably make the cans freeze quicker!  The water won't freeze, but it will still get as cold as the outside temp.  If the outside temp would freeze the canned material then it will still freeze inside the cans.  The water they are floating in will probably just increase the heat transfer to make the cans freeze even faster!

No way to not pay the piper when it comes to freezing.  If the outside temp is below freezing the only way to stop stuff from freezing is to input energy with a heater.  You could bury the material much deeper if you can keep the temp above freezing.

Offline Nicodemus

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I hate that my answers to the questions that you ask is "bury it" and "frost line"...
Basically, if you're going to bury something to keep it from freezing, and you don't have an internal heat source, you have to get below the frost line where the average yearly temperature remains above freezing.


Offline surfivor

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 I wonder if there could be some idea related to this that some sort of appliance could be used or invented that just keeps the temp around 35 or something in the winter and shuts off if it warms up. If the stuff is well insulated, perhaps the electricity to run such a device would be very minimal ?


Offline reefmarker

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I wonder if there could be some idea related to this that some sort of appliance could be used or invented that just keeps the temp around 35 or something in the winter and shuts off if it warms up. If the stuff is well insulated, perhaps the electricity to run such a device would be very minimal ?



You can buy little plug in adapter things that turn on at something like 38 degrees and back off at 50 degrees.  They are made for freeze protection.  I have one on my well light.  They are available at the big box lumber stores for about $15 and they look like a plugin adapter that would split one plug out to 3 plugs (but they only have one plug).  You could plug a little oil style heater into this and it would heat up the area to keep it from freezing and not be a fire hazard in the process.  Pretty good idea that would not cost a fortune to implement.

They are called easy heat:

http://www.lowes.com/pd_21563-72436-EH-38_0__?productId=1060249&Ntt=easyheat&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fpl__0__s%3FNtt%3Deasyheat


Offline surfivor

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 That seems interesting .. It looks like it needs AC power. Any ideas how you could maybe do something with DC/solar ? I am sort of picturing a small cheap solar panel siting on top of a steel storage container with a wire running into the container through a tiny hole drilled into the side of the container. Inside the container might be one or several coolers with canned goods and water with some sort of cheap device to keep the temp in the upper 30's or some such ..


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If the food is not damaged by freeze/thaw cycles you can keep food in mason jars. The food would have to be canned in a pressure canner of course.

Offline BerserkerPrime

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Quote
I just unpacked my cooler after getting back from Maine and the tea is now partially frozen after transporting it in the back of my truck. I do wonder though if there is some kind of beverage or canned good that won't freeze until 31 or 30 degrees, maybe that would be a safer bet because maybe the cooler keeps the temp close to 32 ? 


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Offline Perfesser

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Remember that the earth itself is 45 deg.

If you were to dig a shallow hole and insulate it well on top I doubt it would freeze. Certainly if you had a concrete pad with the base below the frost line that would conduct some warmth from the ground, just insulate it from the below freezing air.
Lets say you dug a 4 ft hole,  pile 2 ft of concrete blocks in the hole and fill with sand, put your stuff on top and cover with a foot of insulation and a foot of snow you would be fine.
That would(should?) be enough.

Any time we get lots of snow before the ground freezes you can dig down and the ground is not frozen. Snow is good insulation.
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Offline Dawgus

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 Just as Nicodemus said, just bury some kind of container below the frost line. Keep it simple. No need for anything that uses energy. You could simply bury a 55 gallon drum with some sort of lid on the top. Put a layer of straw on the bottom, add in whatever you want to store, cover with straw, and put on the lid. My dad told me that was how they stored root crops when he was a kid, and we tried it with potatoes with no problems at all.  Maybe put your items in a 5 gallon bucket with a piece of rope going to the lid of the drum to make it easier to remove when needed.  Since you're in an area that gets substantial snow, do the same as we did with our drum and paint some wooden stakes bright red so the pit is easy to find when covered in snow.
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Offline nkawtg

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Re: would a cooler keep water & canned goods from freezing in winter longterm ?
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2011, 01:18:48 PM »
It's the rule of entropy. No matter how well insulated a container, warmer always seeks colder temperatures will eventually reach equilibrium.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2011, 01:44:20 PM by nkawtg »
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Offline sippinkoolaid

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Re: would a cooler keep water & canned goods from freezing in winter longterm ?
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2011, 10:47:53 AM »
I can't claim for water but I have kept soda cans and beer on my concrete garage floor when the temperature is -20f or lower and they have not frozen. I am guessing that the concrete is going to be slightly warmer than the air since the ground underneath hasn't been able to freeze from protection of the garage. Another option is  to dig a "root cellar" That will be cold but since its below the frostline it won't freeze.
I live in canada but they majority of users of this forum are from the u.s. So here's a map to see how deep you may have to dig to keep goods from freezing in your region.




I am up in the 100"+ area of Canada. I am not a expert but if you need any cold weather tips I can probably give you answer!