How To Keep Ice Cream Frozen In A Cooler [Detailed Guide]

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 Long Will Ice Cream Last in a Cooler?

Ice cream can last between two to four hours in a cooler if you use regular ice. How you place the ice cream also determines how long it lasts. Putting the ice cream at the bottom of the cooler and stacking ice packs on top of it will preserve it for a longer period.

But if you use dry ice, the ice cream can last for up to six hours, as long as you correctly place it at the bottom of the cooler. Note that the type of cooler you use is vital to preserving the ice cream. Using a regular cooler with normal ice preserves the ice cream for about four to siix hours.

However, using a high-end cooler with regular ice can preserve it for up to 24 hours. It will last even longer if you add salt o the ice, preserving it for up to one or two days. If you use dry ice in a high-end cooler, the ice cream can remain frozen for up to four days.

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…

How to Keep Ice Cream Frozen in a Cooler
Image by silviarita from Pixabay

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.

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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:

1. 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.

2. Avoid Placing the Ice Cream in a Warm Cooler

Before you put your ice cream in the cooler, ensure that the ice cream 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.

3. 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.

4. Get a 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.

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5. Slow 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.

6. Use Double-barrier Protection

You’re trying to preserve 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.

7. Ensure You Fill the Cooler

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.

8. Close the Cooler and Keep Out from Under 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.

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Keeping Ice Cream Frozen with Dry Ice

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1. 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.

To make dry ice yourself, spray a 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 of getting dry ice, which is getting the ice from the store.

2. 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.

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.

3. Handle Dry Ice Carefully

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.

4. 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.

But be sure to wrap the dry ice in towels. Leaving it exposed allows it to dissolve faster.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Protect the Cooler

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 prevent the carbon dioxide that is leaving the cooler from filling your vehicle. A carbon dioxide buildup can cause you to feel dizzy or even collapse.

Disposing of the Dry Ice

Don’t pour the dry ice out on the ground or in a gutter after using it. 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.

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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 so frequently 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.

Image by Anita S. from Pixabay

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 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.

How To Keep Ice Cream Frozen In A Cooler – Related FAQs

1. How Long Will Dry Ice Keep Ice Cream Frozen In A Cooler?

Typically, dry ice can keep ice cream frozen in a cooler for about 18 to 24 hours. However, this is dependent on how the dry ice is stored, the size of the dry ice contained inside the cooler, as well as the insulation capacity of the cooler.

Ice cream will remain frozen in a cooler with dry ice, as long as the dry ice doesn’t evaporate or sublime quickly. And dry ice tends to evaporate quickly when there are additional spaces in the cooler, or when it comes in contact with liquid.

2. How Do You Keep Ice Cream Frozen Outside?

Ice cream can be frozen outside by putting it in a cooler filled with dry ice or normal ice. Coolers with high insulation properties are usually suitable and should be kept away from direct sunlight as much as possible.

During outdoor events, such as picnics, ice cream doesn’t have to be melted as it can still be kept ice cold to be served outside. Using dry ice or normal ice in loose or airtight insulated coolers respectively would help to retain the cool temperature of the ice cream and keep it frozen.

3. How Do You Pack Ice Cream In A Cooler?

To pack ice cream in a cooler, make sure it is well arranged at the bottom of the cooler such that there is little or no room for additional space. By doing this, whether it is dry ice or normal ice that is used inside the cooler, the ice would still remain cold.

Next, place crumpled newspaper sheets or towels in the cooler to fill empty spaces in the cooler, if any, and to cover the top of the ice cream containers. This will help you maintain a uniform temperature in the cooler.

4. Will Ice Cream Stay Frozen In A Cooler?

Ice cream can stay frozen a cooler, as long as the cooler contains dry ice or normal ice. Because ice cream can melt easily, it has to be stored with extra packs of ice in the cooler.

Ice cream can stay frozen for a long period of time, usually, 18 to 24 hours as long as the dry ice or normal ice used doesn’t melt completely.

5. Will Dry Ice Keep Things Frozen In A Cooler?

Dry ice will keep things frozen in a cooler as long as it has not melted completely. And because it is extremely cold with a temperature of -109 degrees Fahrenheit or -78.5 degrees Celsius, this makes it able to keep things frozen for a long period of time.

One thing to note, however, is that the cooler must be loosely sealed in order to give room for the gases to escape. Gases are generated as a result of the sublimation of the dry ice, from solid to gas directly.

6. Can A Yeti Cooler Keep Ice Cream Frozen?

A Yeti cooler can keep ice cream frozen longer when you put ice in it. The ice inside the Yeti cooler can keep ice cream and food items frozen for up to 24 hours.

You may want to consider going for Yeti coolers like the Roadie and Tundra Hard Coolers.

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