When preparing for a camping trip or a picnic, it is very important to have a cooler with you so that your food does not spoil. Most foods need to be stored at very low temperatures, so having a cooler with you is very important.
However, there is one question that troubles us, and that is: how long can a cooler keep ice cold? Since there are different types of coolers, each has its own features. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about coolers. So, let’s start!
How Long Does Ice Last In a Cooler? Ice in a cooler can last anywhere from 12 hours up to 8 days, depending on the cooler type. Styrofoam coolers have the lowest efficiency and can keep ice up to 32 hours, while premium hard coolers can keep ice up to 8 days. Also, air and food temperature play a big role.
There are many types of coolers on the market today, and each of them gives different results. The factors determining how long ice lasts in a cooler are the air temperature, the material the cooler is made of, and its volume. In the rest of this article, we’ll cover all types of coolers and how much ice each of them can hold.
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How Long Can Ice Last In a Cooler?
There are different types of coolers. Coolers can generally be divided into four models: styrofoam coolers, soft coolers, hard coolers, and premium hard coolers. Let’s see how each differs and what their advantages are.
Styrofoam Cooler Holds Ice Between 12 to 32 Hours
Styrofoam coolers can hold ice for a very short time. Although this depends on the manufacturer, water ice in a styrofoam cooler will last between 12 to 24 hours, and dry ice between 18 and 32 hours. However, ice will last longer if the cooler is not exposed to direct sunlight.
Premium quality styrofoam coolers, which are often made for cold shipments, can keep ice much longer than cheap styrofoam coolers, such as those used for going on picnics. The price of a styrofoam cooler is determined by the time frame within which the cooler can keep the ice stable.
When you transport frozen goods in a quality styrofoam cooler, you can be sure that it will last for at least 24 hours. It is known that in this way, frozen goods are transported overseas as special shipments.
Standard styrofoam coolers that can be bought cheaply in supermarkets will usually keep ice for an average of 12 hours.
That is enough to transport a supply of food from one location to another. That’s why styrofoam coolers are most often used when going on picnics, road trips, or for transporting food from home to the cottage.
If you run out of water while camping, be sure to read How to Purify River Water For Drinking (5 Methods).
Soft Cooler Holds Ice Between 12 to 24 Hours
Although some claim that soft coolers can hold ice for up to 3 days, we were not convinced by that statement. Even under ideal conditions, the ice in the soft cooler melts within 48 hours.
Soft coolers can hold ice stable between 12 and 24 hours on average. When it comes to dry ice in a soft cooler, it can remain stable for an average of 20 hours in most cases. This type of cooler is better quality than styrofoam coolers, so you can expect to spend more money on it.
The soft cooler is recommended for simple natural trips and for storing cool drinks during a long road trip or boat ride. In short, the ice you store in the soft cooler will be frozen for up to 24 hours, but the stock in cheaper models will slowly melt after 12 hours.
Hard Cooler Holds Ice Between 2 to 6 Days
How long a hard cooler can hold ice depends on the quality of the material it is made of. Cheap hard coolers can hold ice for at least two days, while the better models can hold ice for up to 6 days! The average life span of ice in a hard cooler is 4 days for water ice and 5 days for dry ice.
The price of a hard cooler ranges from $20 to $100, and it is determined by the time frame inside which it can keep the ice intact. If you want a top-quality hard cooler that will keep ice and frozen food preserved for 7 days, we recommend the Coleman 7 days cooler.
We tried it and can confirm that on the seventh day of our road trip during the summer, the ice was in the same condition as when it left our home freezer!
Also, the reviews of users who have had the Coleman cooler say that it is a worthwhile investment because even after 3 years of use, they hold the ice the same as the first day.
Also, be sure to read: How to Keep Food Cold While Camping? (10 Tips That Work).
Premium Hard Coolers Holds Ice Between 5 to 8 Days
Premium hard coolers are the most expensive coolers on the market. You can trust that every premium hard cooler will be able to keep ice for at least 5 days or even longer. The average time frame for solid ice sustainability in premium hard coolers is 5 to 8 days, whether water or dry ice.
The kings among premium hard cooler models are Pelican Elite 80 Quart and Yeti Tundra 160. Let’s look at their specifications and why they are so popular.
The Pelican Elite 80 Quart is a powerful cooler model with a lifetime warranty, which is why it is bought by those who often go camping.
This model can hold ice stable for 7 days. Note some users boast that it has kept their ice supply up to two weeks! The dimensions of this model are: 12.5″ wide x 45″ long x 21.5″ high, and it can store 159 lbs of ice.
Yeti Tundra 160 is loved by campers who like to stay in the wild with their RVs. Why? This model of the hard cooler is known for the fact that it can keep a supply of ice in a solid state for a full 7 days, sometimes even longer!
Note! No premium ice cooler is cheap, but it is a worthwhile investment if you know you will use it often.
Things That Determine How Long Ice Lasts
How long the ice will remain stable in the cooler depends on these factors:
- Ice Type: Dry ice can last longer in a piece than water ice. But you have to buy dry ice, while you can make water ice at home.
- Ice Volume: There must always be enough ice in the cooler so that the volume of the cooler is completely filled. After putting the food or drink in the cooler, fill all the empty space with ice.
- Outside temperature: The ice inside the cooler will remain stable longer if the cooler is in the shade and when the temperature in its environment is up to 20 degrees Celsius. The higher the temperature in the environment, the shorter the ice will last.
- Temperature of Items That Are Stored: Ice will last longer in the cooler if what is in it is already cooled or, even better, frozen.
- Volume of Items That Are Stored: For the cooler to cool at full capacity, it is ideal if it is full. Always put the maximum amount of food or cold drinks in it.
- Cooler Type: Not every cooler can keep ice in one piece for the same amount of time. Depending on the type of cooler, the time that the ice can remain intact ranges from 12 hours to even 7 days.
Here is another great video that shows how to pack a cooler for a camping trip:
Related article: What Food Should I Bring for 3 Days Camping?
Tips To Make Ice Last Longer In A Cooler
Whatever cooler you have, there are always some tips and tricks that you can use to extend the life span of ice in it with help of a few simple tricks. Here are some of them:
1. Cool Your Cooler In A Freezer
If you have access to a larger freezer, place your cooler inside for a few hours. That way, once you put ice in it, it will hold ice much longer than usual.
Also, if you estimate that there will be extra space after putting food in the cooler, you can fill that space with bottles in which you will freeze water overnight. It is also advisable to cool everything that you plan to put in the home refrigerator, and if it is convenient, even freeze it.
Related Article: Are KastKing Fishing Reels Any Good? Explained
2. Use Blocks of Ice Instead of Cubes
If you have the possibility, it is always good that the ice cubes you put in the cooler are as large. The larger the volume of ice blocks, the longer the ice will stay in one piece. Don’t know how to make bigger blocks of ice? It’s simple.
Fill a plastic bottle or large cup with water, and freeze it; when the ice forms, just cut the plastic, and that’s it.
3. Use Aluminum Foil
You can achieve that the ice lasts longer by lining the inside of the cooler with aluminum foil. Aluminum foil is known as a good insulator. If you don’t have aluminum foil, you can cover the inside of the cooler with bubble wrap.
4. Combine Dry Ice With Normal Ice
Dry ice is not cheap. If it’s expensive for you to fill the entire cooler with dry ice, that’s fine. However, you can always buy a smaller amount of dry ice, which will help you keep water ice in one piece for longer.
Place dry ice at the bottom of your cooler, and then put water, ice, and food on it. Also, let the dry ice be the last layer in the cooler under the lid.
5. Keep The Melted Water In Cooler
When the ice in your cooler starts to melt, your first reaction will certainly be to throw out the excess water that appeared in the cooler. Don’t do it! The water that was created by ice melting is still very cold and can cool the food in the cooler for some time.
Also, be sure to watch this YouTube video to see even more tips to keep your cooler cold:
How long ice lasts in a cooler depends on the type of cooler you use. Also, the material from which the cooler is made, ice in it can last from 12 hours to 7 days. You can always increase the durability of the ice inside the cooler by putting pre-cooled foods and drinks in it and by making sure that the cooler is always in the shade. In this text, we have offered several tricks that can extend the life span of ice in your cooler. Try them out, and let us know which helped you the most.