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I don't have access to a walk in freezer. I was thinking to freeze blocks using my chest freezer. Drop those into the cooler, fill in the gaps with ice cubes, pour in some cold water, and then freeze the whole mess solid with dry ice. Anyone tried this? Thanks!
 

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The Old Troll
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This will work to some degree. Block and cube ice because of the way they are made hold a lot of air but you are reducing the surface area of the ice mass by freezing one sold block. The cost of the dry ice is also a factor.

I found a walk in freezer at a place where game is processed. When it's not hunting season meat lockers are willing to cut you a deal.

If you're not headed to the Grand then you should have no problem with your plan. The Grand trip is a minimum of 16 days on the river plus travel to the put in.

If you are in control of multiple coolers you can plan on some coolers for the first days and other coolers for later in the trip. As the coolers play out other gear can move into the empty coolers. They become dry boxes.


If you can plan on having a cooler for the last days you can freeze food into the ice and put dry ice on top so that the cooler won't start melting until late into the trip.

Freeze any food that can be frozen. Some foods can be frozen right into the ice. The top of the coolers with ice frozen into the bottom of the cooler will not be all that cool so put foods like vegetables on top and foods like meat on the bottom next to or into the ice.

If you are planing on eggs then use Egg Beaters pre frozen into or half into the ice.
 

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I have used dry ice to freeze a cooler with good results. I started with block ice that I cut into 3" slabs (I used a band saw, but any course tooth hand saw will work)

I covered the bottom of a cooler with slabs and filled in the cracks with ice chips. I then added a small amount of water to fill in the gaps. Note: Ice floats! Don't use too much water.

I the placed a slab of dry ice on top and let it sit over night. By morning I had a very solid block of ice.
 

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i have used the method you described many times. it works well. just make sure of a few things:

always handle the dry ice with gloves.

don't let the dry ice come in contact with water, it will sublimate very fast and not give you the refrigeration effect you are looking for.

cover the cooler with a blanket while you are doing the freeze for better effect.

i usually get the cold water to fill the voids by putting ice in a bucket, adding water to the top of the ice, stir it around for a minute or two and then pour it in. that will get the water to 32 degrees. you don't need to fill to the top of the blocks, just till you can see it.

be careful putting fresh veggies in that cooler. you can get that ice to maybe 30 below zero. it will freeeze beer.

play with it. after a try or two, you will be the one with ice at the end of every trip.

have fun :shock:

bob
 

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The Russian
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I did the same method, except with much less care. I just got back from Main Salmon. 8 hours of driving rigged to the river, 5 days on the river and a day of driving back (rigged). My cooler was exposed to the sun the whole time. On the river I did put wet towel on it and didn't let the kids get into the cooler. I came home, parked my trailer in the garage and my water jugs and beer is still frozen in the cooler.

Make sure you drain the excess water from the cooler each day, it seems to keep the cooler colder longer.

I did throw veggies in the cooler before the freeze and some of them went rotten from the freeze, so it's good to know. Also, any water/beer in the cooler will freeze completely. We had almost no drinking water the first day on the trip because all my water bottles were frozen solid in the cooler.
 

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Old Guy in a PFD
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I wonder if you've checked the local grocery, restaurants and food warehouses? Properly approached, with humility and wallet in hand, one of these folks will gladly freeze your stuff. Especially if you buy stuff from them, like the grocery.
 

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Funny Taste

I've heard that dry ice gives things a funny taste. If it's sealed in a bag and such - is there still the funny taste, or is that only with stuff that has direct contact with water/ice/dry ice in the freezer?
 

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The Russian
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I've heard that dry ice gives things a funny taste. If it's sealed in a bag and such - is there still the funny taste, or is that only with stuff that has direct contact with water/ice/dry ice in the freezer?
All the stuff that was in my cooler was in sealed containers (egg beaters, whip cream, butter, etc). We did have salad in a bag, but I kept most of it away from touching the dry ice.

I couldn't tell a funny taste.
 

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say on average how long will dry ice last if it does not come in contact with any water and minimal air
 

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The Russian
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say on average how long will dry ice last if it does not come in contact with any water and minimal air
The dry ice will deplete regardless of conditions within a few days, even if you completely duct tape your cooler. If it comes in contact with water, it will go faster. My dry ice lasted to start of a 3rd day, but once it was gone, everything was frozen solid. I bought 10 lbs package at the local grocery store. And I have a 150 qt Galaxy Cooler
 

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from trusty wiki:

As a general rule, Dry Ice will sublimate at a rate of five to ten pounds every 24 hours in a typical ice chest. This sublimation continues from the time of purchase; therefore, pick up Dry Ice as close to the time needed as possible. Bring an ice chest or some other insulated container to hold the Dry Ice and slow the sublimation rate. Dry Ice sublimates faster than regular ice melts but will extend the life of regular ice.

Note to self: open the car windows if you bring it home inside of your vehicle...... carbon dioxide is emitted fomthe dry ice.... not good, will make you dizzy, etc.
 

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For a recent Grand trip we had two coolers just for ice. We used clear sculping ice in block (3 or 4 blocks per 123 Qt Engel cooler) and topped them with two blocks of dry ice each. Dry ice blocks from City Market are typically about 6x6x2 ish and come in their own plastic bag. When the dry ice was added we put a little bit of extra visqueen between the regular & dry ice. I would say the dry ice lasted about 4 days, but it left the cooler totally frozen. By day 13 (of 16) I would say that half the ice had melted. I could have been a little better about draining in the first half of the trip and on a layover day the cooler was left in the boat without a cover during a hot day, but in the end we had enough ice to keep the food going till we got home and ice cold beers the last 4 days or so.
 

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I use dry ice regularly and have never noticed any taste. The food is wrapped for freezing in ziplocks or vacuum bags.

I typically use a 'freezer' cooler, all of the food is pre-frozen and I top it off with some dry ice. I strap it closed and keep it under a wet blanket. I can go about 3 days before the dry ice is gone. I can serve pop cycles on day 3 of the San Juan and the frozen contents are good for another 2 days.

If I add a 3" layer of water ice over the bottom (as per above) I can still have ice at the end of 8 days on Deso/Gray in July.

During a multi-day drive to the river I replenish the dry ice in the freezer cooler as needed. Small pieces of dry ice in the regular cooler will keep your block ice nice and fresh in the hot car.

Dry ice in direct contact with food can cause freezer burn, I found a small insulated lunch sack that is perfect for keeping the dry ice off the food.

Dry ice will freeze most fresh produce, so keep it away from the veg.
 
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