Wednesday, September 26, 2012

DIY Ice Blocks

Matt and I do a good amount of traveling in a year.  We camp out and sell tie-dye on the road.  We travel to see family and friends.  We enjoy attending concerts around the region.

So we pack a cooler quite a bit.  Being both vegan-esque and quite frugal we always bring our own foods when we hit the road, something I intend to blog about here soon.  But, even the best of travel foods will not be so great if all the ice in the cooler melts and the food spends the weekend swimming in lukewarm water.  Thus, ice is critical for eating on the road.

Block ice lasts way, way, way longer than the pebbles of ice that are sold much more widely.  In fact, Matt and I were just discussing how it is getting hard to buy block ice.  Grocery stores have it occasionally, but gas stations never do any more, it seems.  We theorize that the ice makers realized what a good deal the block ice was and so stopped offering it in favor of selling the rather quick-melting ice cubes.  Maybe we're too cynical, but whatever the reason block ice is no longer readily for sale in my neck of the woods.

Ice is one of those things that seems like such a small investment as to not really matter.  You can find 5-10 lbs of ice for $1.29-$4.99 depending on the location.  But, even the small amounts really add up over time.  A five day road trip could mean restocking the cooler with ice a few times. Taking dozens of road trips a year this really adds up.


So what is a thrifty traveler to do?  We make our own blocks of ice.  (Ha!  Take THAT ice companies!)

DIY Ice Blocks
Thoroughly clean old plastic butter, margarine, tofu, or shortening tubs.
Fill 1/2-3/4 full of water.
Place in freezer (if you use a baking tray as a "shelf" you can probably do multiple layers)
Allow to freeze solid.
Squeeze the plastic container until the ice slides out (some may crack if filled too full)
Ta Da!  Ice blocks!


We take our homemade ice blocks and line the bottom of the cooler.  We then place the food on top of the blocks and fill in the remaining are with the ice cubes from our freezer.  We've found these ice blocks to last for nearly a week, especially if you take the time to drain off the water that accumulates inside the cooler as the ice melts.  The water only make it melt faster. 


We used homemade ice blocks on our trip to Colorado this past weekend.  Since we were staying over at a friend's house we even brought along a couple shortening containers to make ice blocks in for the journey home.  It worked like a charm. 

I sure admire the inexpensive, low-tech solution, especially one that involves things I already have.

9 comments:

  1. What an awesome idea! I'm glad you had a nice trip and that you enjoyed your goodie box... Scott says to share the garlic with Matt... LOL ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will try to share.... :) Try....

      No, seriously, he was super stoked about that bit. We put the potholders and dishcloth to use last night. They are as functional as they are bright and beautiful. Thanks again.

      Delete
  2. We fill empty milk jugs most of the way full and freeze them. They are great in coolers, can be re-frozen. My husband works outside and he takes a frozen milk jug with him to work each day in the summer, it still has ice in it at the end of the day and all day long he can sip on ice cold water. And, once the jug is worn out we can still recycle it!

    Bean

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really like that I can just recycling it when its worn out. That is like the cherry on top of the good idea, I think.

      Delete
    2. That would be just recycle...not recycling. Silly me.

      Delete
  3. I do the same thing! I'm not vegan so I also freeze the milk and anything else that is freezable. I also keep the water in the jugs for drinking when it melts. But I've never had it last a week! I'm impressed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Freezing other things might be a great idea. We bring juice along from time to time. That would freeze nicely. Good idea.

      Delete
  4. Why not leave it in the butter or yogurt containers. You can still dump the water but the water will not be in the bottom of the cooler as much. I freeze a rubber maid type container that almost fills the bottom of the cooler. Depending what else I am taking I sometimes place two of theses containers in the Ice Chest. I refreeze the containers after each trip. Just passing on what works for me.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I value the advice and friendship that you share with me!