Cooler meltwater: to drain or not to drain - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 08-08-2009   #1
 
Denver, Colorado
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Cooler meltwater: to drain or not to drain

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?

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Old 08-08-2009   #2
 
Angel Fire, New Mexico
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I recommend leaving the meltwater in the cooler. But do make sure that your food is in sealed containers.
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Old 08-08-2009   #3
 
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I do the auto-drain, I keep the drain plug just a bit loose, so it drains on it's own. With my system, I end up with a ton of ice at the end of a trip, so I'm not looking to eek out the last tiny bit of cold. It's more important to me that my food stays dry, and not suddenly finding out something is sitting in water.
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Old 08-08-2009   #4
 
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Drain it and the ice will last longer. A good use of the meltwater is to drain into a bucket and then put the warm beers in there before putting into the cooler or just setting in camp for folks to help themselves to.
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Old 08-08-2009   #5
 
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I haven't used this for something as long as a Grand trip, but I usually put my ice blocks in compactor bags, tied up really tight. Since the ice is isolated from the food, everything stays dry, and the meltwater can be used as cooking or drinking water for the bag if it melts quickly in a cooler that gets opened often (beer). Compactor bags also make it easier re-organize your coolers after a few days.

Costco has them for about $7 for 100#, I think.
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Old 08-08-2009   #6
 
Horserump, Colorado
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Drain it. Your ice will last longer and your food will stay fresher. Water is > 32 deg. Ice is < 32 deg. By draining coolers everyday I've had ice at the end of 16,18,21, and 3 day grand trips. The best thing to do is put 4-5" of water in a cooler and then freeze it solid in a freezer.
That way it only melts around the edges.
I do like the idea of saving the water to cool down beers.
Good luck
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Old 08-08-2009   #7
 
Horserump, Colorado
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make that "23 day grand trips"
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Old 08-08-2009   #8
 
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I use 1/2 gallon juice containers frozen solid. No need to drain, no wet cooler and when food is gone I have Ice Cold Juice to drink.
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Old 08-08-2009   #9
 
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Tried it both ways.

Ice seems to melt (whether inside jugs or not) more quickly when it's in water, as opposed to cold air. Conductive heat loss is greater than convective heat loss. The thermal heat of fusion (the 80 calories/gram required to push ice past the melting point) is why coolers work at all.

I even drain meltwater out of jugs, but the awkwardness and additional cooler openings tend to cancel the gains of using jugs.

Best approach in thermodynamic terms might be to put water in a cooler and then freeze it as a single block: greater mass, less surface area.
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Old 08-08-2009   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chip View Post
The thermal heat of fusion (the 80 calories/gram required to push ice past the melting point). . .
That seemed off, so I looked it up: it's the latent heat of fusion. Basically, the tendency of ice (a solid) to resist a change in state, to liquid water. To raise the temperature of one gram of water one degree takes one calorie. Water takes another 80 cal/g to achieve a boil, and become vapor.

Physics is Fun!
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