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Old 08-09-2009   #11
hullflyer's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 187
I drain my coolers daily on long trips. Proper cooler mgmt. is key to sustained ice. First never let warm air touch ice. So never open cooler until needed. On Grand trips I drain once at night before bed and once in the morning before rigging. Always remember to close the drain hole or warm air will ruin the ice.
Once the cooler is opened and being used replenish ice to the rim with coolers that are finished or too low to be useful. A full cooler is much more efficeint than a half-full one. (it's that air thing again)

I've made my own ice blocks with water and put the coolers in a commercial deep freezer for a few days so no air space was left in the bottom of the coolers. This worked great and we had ice for weeks.

Cardboard on top layer to add insulation works too if you don't have the fancy new Yeti/ icee-cool style coolers.

Last keep a wet towel on type of the cooler or a cooler pad to insulated again. The wet towel absorbs that latent heat Chip was talking about in physics class and heat does not transfer onto/into cooler.


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Old 08-09-2009   #12
thornton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1969
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Originally Posted by ridecats View Post
In the several threads about coolers, a few folks have mentioned best cooler management means draining the cooler daily. But I have been told otherwise, as draining out the meltwater merely exchanges cold water and cold mass for warm air. So which will make the cooler stay cold longer, draining or not draining the meltwater?
Simple experiment for you. Take two plastic cups and fill both with same volume of water, than freeze. Poke a hole in the lower bottom side of ONE cup to let melting water drain. The other cup will melt and fill with water. Cover both with cardboard and start timing. I think you get the idea. For me the cup that drained lasted about three hours longer. I know it is not real river conditions but might help answer your question. PS. Place both in sink.

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Old 08-09-2009   #13
thornton, Colorado
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Also keep cup with hole in it to use on river trips for someone you #!!##??. (You know what I mean)
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Old 08-09-2009   #14
rwhyman's Avatar
Unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
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I use to be a "don't drain the water" guy. Here's what changed it for me, if you have a block of ice in a cooler and don't drain the water, the part of the block that was below the water line was always more melted than the part of the block above the water. You end you with a kind of mushroom shaped piece of ice.
Karma is like this: If we set causes in motion the effects come back to us.
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Old 08-09-2009   #15
Thronton, Colorado
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Originally Posted by raymo View Post
....PS. Place both in sink.
That was priceless.... Just to be clear, that's to keep the ice frozen longer, right?
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Old 08-12-2009   #16
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 106
The suggested 2 cup experiment is underway as we speak. I'll report the results once they are ascertained, verified, and certified.
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Old 08-12-2009   #17
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 106
Thanks for the idea. Results of the simple cup experiment:
2 identical cups, same carefully measured volume of water, placed in same freezer at same time, frozen solid, taken out at same time, holes cut into bottom of 1 cup, both placed into same sink and left to melt at room temperature.

On the left, the cup with the holes. On the right, the cup stewing in its own meltwater. In the second photo, note how much ice was left in the left cup at or shortly after the ice in the right cup was melted. I would estimate at 1/3 - 40% of the ice was left in the cup that was drained.

So now I am inclined to drain the meltwater. Had the results been about the same, I would want to drain the meltwater so that my food wasn't swimming. This experiment makes for a pretty easy call. Thanks again for suggesting it.

Next experiment will be to prepare 2 similar cups, only under conditions of some insulation, i.e. in a coozie, or in a cooler.
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Old 08-12-2009   #18
3, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
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You know this subject has been on my mind the past several weeks, been curious..... and voilą here is the answer. I love this freakin site!
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Old 08-15-2009   #19
Dipshit with the most.
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Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,496
To drain or not to drain: Does this mean some of you still have the drain plug intact for your cooler?

Mine always seem to get busted off. So I drain. Automatically.

But I always seem to have a block of ice for cocktails on the last night, even on an eight day trip. And that's just when I throw 3 or 4 blocks in there without much else going on.
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Old 08-19-2009   #20
raftus's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
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It seems clear that draining preserves a small amount of ice longer than not draining. I am curious about this though - which has the greater cooling power: The small block of remaining ice or the full cup of cold water?

Of course if your goal is to keep food frozen draining is the clear choice.

I would also like to second the earlier opinion that transferring stuff to a single cooler to keep it near full (both with ice and cold food) is far more efficient than having several half empty coolers.

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