So, you’re going on a picnic and you have to take some ice cream along with you. Meanwhile, except it is a portable mini-fridge, you obviously can’t take your fridge along with you. Hence, coolers – which leads us to the million-dollar question on how to keep ice cream frozen in a cooler.
Fridges are more reliable than coolers and tend to keep things colder. But, there’s always a way around these things.
This is why in this article we will be letting you in on a few hacks we found on how to keep ice cream frozen in a cooler.
How to Keep Ice Cream Frozen in a Cooler
The taste of melted cream in your mouth is not only dissatisfying but also a waste. So, how do you ensure that the bowls of ice cream that you’ve stored in your cooler do not melt?
There are two major ways of keeping ice cream frozen in a cooler. The first method is to use normal ice and the second method is to use dry ice.
Let’s dig into how to use these methods…
Keeping Ice Cream Frozen with Normal Ice
A good number of people think that normal ice would melt too fast and is not good enough to keep ice cream frozen.
But more often than not, the type of insulation in your cooler is the actual determinant of how long the ice will last in it.
More so, opening the cooler frequently may contribute to how quickly the ice will melt,
All that being said, here are the steps required to keep ice cream frozen in a cooler with normal ice:
- Pick the right cooler
You may hear some retailers say that all coolers are the same especially when they want you to get a cooler from them.
But coolers differ. And one major difference is the choice of insulation that the manufacturer used.
For instance, because Yeti coolers are well insulated, you’re going to have your ice cream frozen much longer in one of them than in a Styrofoam cooler.
- Avoid placing the ice cream in a warm cooler
Before you put your ice cream in the cooler, make sure that it is cold. It is recommended that it should be in the fridge or freezer before you transfer it to a cooler.
Also, to extend the period your ice cream stays cold, pour out the old ice (if you had some in your cooler before) and fill your cooler with new ice before placing the ice cream in it.
- Keep the ice cream at the bottom of the cooler
Just like in refrigerators, the items closest to the cooling vent stays colder.
So, it is advisable to keep your ice cream at the bottom of the cooler where the ice will be.
If you have other things that should be kept cold and not frozen, you can place them on top. Also, ensure that you don’t put warm or hot items along with your ice cream.
- Get a very large ice block
Make or buy a large block of ice.
Large blocks of ice stay frozen longer than smaller blocks. They also extend the time your ice cream stays frozen.
To create a large block of ice, you can use a large pan or a large freezer bag.
- Slow down the melting process a little further
Do you know you can slow down the rate at which your ice melts? A long time ago, rock salt was an ingredient in making ice cream. It is still useful in keeping ice cream cold.
To keep your large block of ice from melting faster, sprinkle rock salt over the surface.
- Double-barrier protection
You’re trying to protect the current temperature of your ice cream. A good way to do this is to have a protective layer before the insulation of the cooler.
An easy-to-get protective layer will be a thermal bag; which is usually sold in most local stores. You can place some ice along with your ice cream in these thermal bags before putting them in your cooler.
- Ensure the cooler is filled up
One thing you don’t want in your cooler is space. Empty areas would cause the ice to melt faster. If ice can’t cover all areas, you can use towels to fill the spaces.
- Close the cooler and keep it away from the sun
Don’t open the cooler now and then just because you want to be sure that your desserts are doing fine or warm air will get in and melt the ice and eventually melt the ice cream.
Just so you know, if you followed steps 1 to 7 as advised, you can rest assured that your ice cream will stay frozen for a while.
Besides, we also suggest that you keep the cooler from sunlight as best as you can. If you’re enjoying your picnic outside, under the sun, you can keep the cooler under a chair, an umbrella or in a shaded area.
Keeping Ice Cream Frozen with Dry Ice
- Get some dry ice
You can get dry ice at grocery stores for as low as a dollar.
By the way, for every 38-liter ice chest, you will need 10-20 pounds of dry ice.
If you want to make your dry ice yourself, you can do this by spraying CO2 fire extinguisher into a pillow for about 2 to 3 seconds.
But ensure that you protect yourself by wearing shoes, chemical-resistant hand gloves, and other forms of protective clothing.
If you ask us though, we recommend the stress-free method, which is getting the ice from the store.
- Pick the right cooler
So that the dry ice can keep your ice cream frozen, get a well-insulated cooler that has a vent. The vent is to allow the vapor created by dry ice to escape.
This is one important thing you shouldn’t skip.
If you get an airtight cooler, the gas released would lead to pressure buildup. Ultimately, your cooler is going to explode. If your cooler doesn’t have a vent, leave it slightly open to allow the gas escape.
Typically, people use Styrofoam or plastic coolers when they want to store ice.
- Handle dry ice the right way
If you’re not protected when using dry ice, you would get yourself injured.
Dry ice can burn your hands because the temperature is extremely low enough to cause frostbite when you touch it.
Whether you’re putting your ice cream inside the cooler or getting it out, ensure that your skin doesn’t touch the ice. Wear full-covering clothing and protective gloves.
- Ensure your ice cream stays at the bottom
Just as with the regular ice method, place your bowls of ice cream at the bottom of the cooler. Dry ice would work better when it is placed on top of your ice cream bowls.
If you can get enough, place a little beneath and some more over the ice cream.
Also, wrap the dry ice in towels. Leaving it exposed allows it to dissolve faster. Towels would also protect the dry ice from destroying other things in your cooler.
- Put only ice cream in your cooler
Since you plan to use dry ice, get another cooler to keep your drinks and other items with normal ice.
Dry ice can freeze anything. And, you wouldn’t want to wait for hours before you’re able to take a sip of your drink from the can.
- Don’t leave any extra space
All the small spaces in your cooler cause dry ice to evaporate quickly. If you don’t have enough ice or bowls of ice cream to cover the space, use towels. They’ll keep the ice from evaporating faster.
If your cooler has a vent, shut the lid tight. If it doesn’t, only open your lid slightly to let gas escape.
- Keep the cooler protected
Because you want to keep your dry ice from evaporating and your ice cream frozen, keep your cooler out of sunlight. Place it in a good shade.
Also, when traveling with your cooler in your vehicle, ensure you place it in the trunk. This is to allow the carbon dioxide leaving the cooler not to fill your vehicle. A carbon dioxide buildup can cause you to feel dizzy or even collapse.
- Disposing of the dry ice
Don’t ever think of pouring out your dry ice into the gutter when you’re done. The ice may expand and cause a major explosion.
Disposing of your dry ice is very easy. Because it evaporates, you can leave the cooler open and all the ice would be gone in some minutes.
Going on a camping trip soon and need camping tips on how to keep your cooler cold and clean while camping? Learn more by clicking the video below.
A Quick Recap
In conclusion, there are two answers to your question “how to keep ice cream frozen in a cooler”. You can either use dry ice or normal ice. Irrespective of the choice you pick, ensure you place your cooler under a shade, away from sunlight. Also, don’t open the cooler until you’re ready to take your ice cream.
However, for safety reasons, we will gladly recommend that you use the regular ice method as opposed to the dry ice method to keep your ice cream frozen in a cooler.
Alternatively, you may want to save yourself a great deal of stress by going for portable 12V coolers that you can easily power on with your cigarette lighter. Some of them come with the freezing function that your ice cream will most likely need especially on the hot days of summer.
We’ve reviewed some highly-rated portable 12V coolers that may be suitable for you based on functionality, weight, capacity, and style. You can check them out here!
You can also find read our article on How long ice lasts in a Yeti Cooler to learn how best to make the most of your camping trips when you have some ice cream with you.