April 12, 2016 at 5:03 pm #48318
This is only an option for those who are in cold climates but it is an almost cost-free way of building a cold storage room for food preservation come a long term grid down scenario.
Our well water is hard and so we have a water softener. My wife doesn’t like the taste of it and so we use bottled water for cooking and drinking. I buy those cases of 6 one gallon jugs at BJ’s (same as Costco) and for the past couple years have been saving the empty containers back into the rather sturdy cases they came in.
The process would be to fill the jugs with water (leaving some room for the ice expansion) and set them outside in winter to freeze. A spot not in direct sunlight such as in a detached garage, shed, or sheltered spot is best so as to reduce UV exposure that will start the breakdown of the plastic. You can keep them in the cardboard box in a shady spot too so long as you can keep the box dry. The box strength is lost once it gets wet, even after it dries again.
The cases of frozen water jugs are then very stackable so as build a room in the basement with them. An almost solid wall of ice a foot thick should last the entire summer/fall. My basement only rises to maybe 60 degrees in the summer as it is. It is 45 to 50 in the winter. If you build it in a corner, then the two outer walls would have the additional insulation of the cold cement the ice is butted up against. The bottom row of the inner walls would have the benefit of the cold cement underneath it too.
I had seen a show on TV where some guy did this here in VT and his ice house kept food cold throughout the summer/fall. If I recall he had used those 5 gallon plastic buckets, but I like the ease and strength of stacking the cases of 6 gallons each.
What I describe would be a whole lot less work than cutting blocks of ice on ponds and then packing them in sawdust as in days of old.April 12, 2016 at 6:36 pm #48319
there is another option, it depends on your geo stratification. I am getting engineering started this September for a smart system greenhouse heating and chilling system. the cold can be pumped into a layer of sand with clay then extracted in form of chilled water using mixed power source (for us micro hydro+ wind+ solar) we have a layer of sand 7+ meter thick 20 meters down. it is sort of like geo mass with a heat pump but so much more, in a zone 3 temp wise i will be able to have a tropical green house for citrus and other warm climate edibles. The green house is only half green house other half is closed heavily insulated structure, angling to catch sun can change the temperate zones inside a green house.
It is a proven technology http://groundswellnetwork.ca/ is a smaller working model with no cold pump, using the same engineering company to model 4 more different types of greenhouse to be able to produce all year using part of the heated building for my bee colonies. It will allow me to produce fresh produce all year and sell it locally, including some exotics by next year.April 12, 2016 at 8:16 pm #48324
Great idea. If I might make a suggestion, I would insulate every posible exterior surface of the ice. Including the bottom of the blocks against the floor and any walls. The earth is a infinite heat sink and will absorb all of the cold or heat that comes in contact. The earth surface maintains a constant 55*F no matter how much energy it is expended.April 12, 2016 at 11:24 pm #48325
74, good suggestion!
My Dad told me of the ice house they had on the farm on which he grew up (western Pennsylvania coal country, early 20th century.) It was dug into the side of a hill, roofed, covered with a couple of feet of soil, and insulated with hay bales. In the winter, after a hard freeze, his father, brothers, and he would take the wagon to a nearby pond (lake?), cut blocks of ice, an haul them back to the ice house. The internal temp would keep various produce through until late spring. He said one cold year, there was enough ice left to make ice cream on Independence Day (July 4, for readers abroad.)
Milk was used/consumed daily, and was kept cold enough to prevent souring by storing it in the cistern of the spring house, ditto, eggs. At some point in his childhood, ice delivery began, so they used an icebox in the kitchen for milk, eggs, butter, and fresh meat, but boxes and baskets of produce were kept in the ice house. Ham and bacon were smoked, of course, and the hams, at least, were wrapped and hung dry.
Cry, "Treason!"April 13, 2016 at 12:21 am #48326
Ice houses were indispensable before refrigeration. I have friends that own an old one, as you mention dug into the side of a hill. I believe theirs was used to sell ice locally as the building is fairly large. Oddly the water nearby rarely freezes with ice thick enough to cut, at least not without something to stand on that floats. Saw dust was widely used as insulation for ice. I think mostly because it is relatively clean and free of contaminants.April 13, 2016 at 1:25 am #48327
Good idea 74 about insulating the cement. I’ve got some styrofoam sheets in the room up above the garage that I saved from something or other. I’ll have to check how much there is. I’m also thinking I’d pack the space around the jugs in the boxes so as to reduce air infiltration. Not sure what to pack it with. One downside I didn’t mention is that saving hundreds of empty water jugs takes up a lot of space.
My well is dug into limestone. On this side of VT it is generally either limestone or marble down below. namelus, it will be interesting to hear how your project goes.
Years ago one of my brothers lived in Ohio in a Civil War era farmhouse. Down in a glen there was a spring house that kept things cold way back when. As best I know he didn’t run any experiments testing it out.
Up until I was 8 we lived with my grandmother who had a icebox rather than a refrigerator. The ice blocks seemed to last quite a while. A guy used to deliver them to the house. The milkman back then didn’t have a refrigerated truck but rather had the milk packed in ice. He’d let us grab a piece in the summer when he came by.
I have a pond in the backyard but I’m thinking a solution that doesn’t include cutting ice blocks and hauling them seems preferable.April 13, 2016 at 1:13 pm #48328
Thinking along the same lines of not moving heavy materials, I think building a permanent outdoor structure and allowing it to freeze by keeping the door open would alleviate moving frozen blocks of ice. It would also eliminate the storage issue for the containers. A cheap storage type shed could be used for the icehouse. Buy or build one large enough to super insulate the walls and roof, plus allowing for the ice containers. Then whatever containers you use will work. I’m thinking that plastic 55gal drums stacked 2 high and along the walls would suffice. It becomes a matter of how much refrigerated space is required for shelving and walking in.
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