Use Larger Ice Blocks, as Opposed to Cubed Ice
An advantage of using large ice blocks is that they have less surface area exposed to warmer outside air than smaller ice cubes. Thus, larger ice blocks melt at a much slower rate than cubed ice. You can easily make your own DIY ice blocks by using an empty clean milk carton as a mold. Fill the carton with water (make sure to leave room for it to expand) and freeze. Once frozen, remove the carton and place it in your cooler. Though they are bulky, they will last much longer and work more effectively.
Wrap Your Cooler in a Wet Towel
Use a light-colored wet towel to wrap the cooler and keep it under the shade. As wind passes over the towel, the water will begin to evaporate. As the water turns to vapor, it will make the towel colder. This will help keep the cooler’s temperature down and make your ice last even longer.
Organize Your Cooler
As you open and close the lid to your cooler, warm air will enter, melting the ice quicker. Organize your cooler with items that you will more frequently need to one side in order to lessen the amount of time the lid remains open. Instead of having to dig around to find what you need, strategically organize your cooler to make each opening as efficient as possible.
Use Dry Ice as Well as Regular Ice
Dry ice, the solid form of carbon dioxide, has a much lower temperature than ordinary water ice (-109.3°F versus 32°F). Place the ice at the bottom of your cooler and then layer with regular ice overtop. The dry ice will help cool down the regular ice and will turn into gas as it melts, leaving no unwanted messes or excess water to clean up after.
Bury Your Cooler in the Ground
If you’re camping for a few days, you may want to consider burying your cooler in the ground. As unconventional as this may sound, the cool soil will help maintain the temperature for a longer period of time. Simply make sure you bury it only three-quarters of the way and choose a shady spot.
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