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The Art Of Ice Retention

There is an art to the science of ice retention. Luckily “A man [or woman] can be an artist in anything, food whatever. It depends on how good he [she] is at it.” – Man on Fire. Read this and you’ll be ready to paint your masterpiece.

Don’t just toss a 20 lb bag of cubed ice (less than 10 qts of frozen water) from Maverik/WaWa/Circle K/7-Eleven/Casey’s/Buc-ee’s in your cooler and expect it to last a week. That won’t get it done.

Do put in the prep work and your Cordova will absolutely perform as advertised. Here’s how to do it:

  • Freeze our Glacial Ice Packs solid (down to zero degrees Fahrenheit, what your kitchen freezer is likely set to) at least 24 hours ahead of time and use them. Yes, it’s like we’re trying to sell you more stuff, but they WORK and extend the cooling window by up to 40%. A ratio of 10 qts to 1 lb of ice pack is the recommended minimum. So, a two-pounder is good as a base cooling block for the 20 qt cooler. Two four-pound packs will handle an 88 qt. When in doubt, use more ice pack.
  • Unless it’s colder outside, bring your Cordova cooler into an air-conditioned space 24 hours before you plan to use it and fill the cooler with ice to bring the temperature of your cooler’s insulation down. This ice will melt relatively quickly as the insulation cools.
  • Drain the water and fill your Cordova in the following order:
  • Dry ice (frozen CO2) if you have it, ideally not in direct contact with provisions because dry ice will freeze anything it comes in direct contact with
  • Block ice and/or our Glacial Ice Packs (minimum of 1 lb of solidly frozen ice pack per 10 quarts of cooler capacity)
  • Provisions that can get wet
  • Fresh cubed ice in a ratio of 3:1 provisions to ice, of if you’ve got 20 lbs of meat, put in 40 lbs of ice (your block ice counts toward the 40 lbs).
  • For anything you want to keep above the ice or have immediately accessible when the lid is opened, use our wire baskets (sold separately, but very reasonably priced) which are made to sit on the ledge just below the lid.
  • Use COLD ice. (Ice, like water, does vary in temperature. Ice that is dry to the touch, as opposed to wet and slippery, is colder and will last longer.)
  • Block ice is preferable to cubed ice – it will last longer.
  • An ice to provisions ratio of 3:1 is ideal. Prechill provisions when possible.

When in use, here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Keep the lid closed and latched unless retrieving or returning provisions. Ice melts about 60x faster when the lid is open vs. closed. Put another way, every minute with the lid open equals one less hour of ice retention.
  • The Eco-Foam in the cooler walls and lid is THICK. Even so, a cooler lid in direct sunlight on a 90-degree day can get above 130 degrees. Help your cooler help you, by keeping it in the shade.
  • Water sucks heat better than air (a practical example: 70-degree days are perfect, 70-degree water is a little on the cool side) so as ice does melt, keep the meltwater in the cooler unless you’re replacing it with fresh ice.

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