Today we’ll design a simple and easy ice chest for use in winter. Using such an ice chest can save tons of electricity depending on the length and severity of your winters. We’ll cover materials, design, tools, some tips and tricks, as well as a short video on my own design and use of an ice chest.
Now the basic use of a ice chest is very old technology. It’s basic function is to regulate and smooth out temperature differences between day and night during winter. Winter temps in my area can go as low as -15F and go as high as 70+F, but more average is 10-40F. By using insulation, ice/snow, and placing this in a shady place you can keep a steady temp of 30-32F, as well as higher in another section if design is made more complex. Through further design modifications we can even reach temps lower the 30F.
OK, lets cover basic tools and materials needed :
2. Large chest or wooden box
3. Foam board
4. Trash bags
5. Ice or snow
The handsaw can be as basic or complex as you’d like as foam board is easy to cut through. You can even use a razor knife, steak knife, or just about anything with a sharp or serated edge. The box or chest can be just about anything, just try to figure in how much space you want along with how much you’ll lose by installing the foam board. For foam board I’d go with between 1 inch and 2 inch kinds, and the thicker the better of course. A Replacement for insulation if you can’t afford it could be cardboard, straw, crumbled up newspaper, or any insulation you have just laying around. Do take into account some kinds of insulation can flake or create dust, so sealing it in some way may be needed. Trash bags serve as a basic container for ice or snow, as well as a moisture barrier. Tougher versions can be multiple trash bags, tarps, or any plastic film type material. Ice or snow is fairly self explanatory, and in the absense of either, if you have the low temps available, just place water in a small container in the shade and wait for nature to do it’s work.
Construction is fairly simple, and personally I didn’t even use a tape measure. Just place pieces of foam board basically into the spots, mark it with your saw or cutting tool, then cut it to size. Once you have all the pieces in place if it wiggles, just use the excess bits to make shims to tighten the insulation up. For the top section if when the box is closed it doesn’t have a tight fit, shim above it with extra insulation, or bits of cardboard. Now if the box is too large to fit your trash bags, just add in a partition of foam board to create sections of a size appropriate to fit them. Now you just throw in a little snow or ice, place in what you want to keep cool, and throw more snow or ice on top. Keep the chest in a shed, bury it, or keep it in the shade(shed is best).
If you have things you want to keep frozen and things you want refrigerated, then add a partition of foam board, and only add ice or snow to the frozen side. You may need to insulate between the two sections heavily, or use a thinner type of insulation on the refrigerated side.
If you want to reach lower temps use a tougher kind of container instead of a trash bag, add in the ice/snow, throw in some water, throw in some salt and stir. This mixture, because of the salt, will never completely freeze, and allows very low temps. Since high moisture is involved you’ll need to seal any item kept in that section.
If you have any questions you can leave a youtube comment and I’ll be sure to answer ASAP. If you have any tips or things I may have missed you can also leave a comment and I’ll be sure to add it into this article.