Some drinks in a cooler box filled with ice

How Long Does Ice Last in a Cooler? | Tips and Tricks on How To Make Ice Last Longer


One of the primary concerns individuals have when packing their cooler is how long the ice will last. If you're going camping or to a hotter location, like the beach, ice can melt quickly, warming your food and beverages and forming a pool of water. But how much time do you have before this starts to happen? Read on to find out.


How Long Does Ice Last in a Cooler?

 Ice Blocks on a table that are melting

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How long ice lasts in a cooler depends on several variables, including the size of the cooler you buy, how much ice you use, and, most importantly, the type and amount of ice you put in it.

Although ice cubes tend to cool things more rapidly, block ice frequently lasts far longer. Block ice can keep food cold in an insulated ice chest for around 5-7 days. On the other hand, cubed ice lasts for 1-2 days.


How To Make the Ice in Your Cooler Last Longer?


The following are some incredibly simple methods to help your cooler stay chilled for longer:


1)  Limit the Airflow

 A cooler bag full of drinks with the American flag on the lid

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To reduce airflow, try to pack your cooler as snugly as you can. Fill up any gaps between cans with plastic bowls or other materials.

There are two advantages to this. The first and most obvious benefit is that you'll have more ice in your cooler. Additionally, less hot air will surround your ice. This will ensure that the ice in your cooler will survive for a longer period.


2)  Select the Appropriate Cooler Type for Your Activity

 Red and Blue cooler boxes piled on top of each other

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Consider the types of activities you'll be doing before deciding which cooler to use.

Soft nylon and polystyrene coolers are better suitable for shorter day trips because they offer a minimal degree of insulation. However, if you plan to camp overnight or travel a distance, you may want to invest more money in a hard-sided cooler that will keep your food cold for longer, such as a styrofoam cooler or a more durable plastic cooler. Additionally, metal coolers composed of aluminum and stainless steel should be avoided since they tend to absorb heat more quickly.


3)  Use Salt

 Some salt grains around a big clump of salt

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Ice salting is a method that has been practiced for hundreds of years. It was a common practice to transport meat in this manner before refrigerators were invented. Salt can be used in a few different ways to chill your cooler:


Utilizing a Salt and Water Solution

Fill your cooler with regular ice and add a few bottles of frozen salt water. These bottles will melt more quickly than the regular ice in the cooler, keeping the temperature cooler for longer. This phenomenon happens since salt lowers the freezing temperature of the water as the ice melts.


Adding Salt to Ice

When you add salt to ice, it melts more quickly, but melting ice is the coldest state that water can be in. Instead of freezing salt water bottles, you can simply add some salt to the water to make ice cubes.


4)  Pre-Chill Your Products

 Some ice on the grill in the freezer

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If you put warm products inside a cool box and add ice, the ice must first cool the products to a cold temperature before keeping the box cool. During this procedure, part of the ice will be lost. Instead, chill the item in the fridge or freezer first before putting it in the ice chest. The products will last longer and the ice won't have to work hard to keep them fresh.


5)  Wrap a Wet Towel Around Your Cooler

 A person holding the corner of a fluffy pink and white towel

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Wrap the cooler in a light-colored, damp towel and keep it in the shade. The water will start to evaporate as the towel is exposed to the wind. The cloth will grow colder as the water vaporizes. This will prolong the life of your ice and lower the cooler's temperature.


6)  Keep Your Cooler Out of the Sunlight

 A blue cooler with a ball sitting on the sand at the beach

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Although ice cooler boxes are designed to help keep your food and beverages cold, exposing them to direct sunlight will hasten the melting of the ice inside. Keeping your ice cooler in the shade will help it maintain longer shelf life.


7)  Think About the Types of Ice That You Are Using

 A Nice Packs gel pack with silver packaging

Credit: Nice Packs


Most of the time, dry ice is preferable to conventional cubed ice and block ice. However, using dry ice without prior experience is generally not advised due to how dangerous it is to handle. For a safer option, consider using Nice Packs dry ice packs. These packs are not made of dry ice but instead of a special material that expands when wet and frozen. With the proper insulation, these packs may often survive 4–7 times longer in a cooler than conventional ice.


8)  Organize Your Cooler

 A person taking a bottle out the cooler in the outdoors

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Don't open the ice chest more than is necessary. When you open the cooler, you release cool air and let warm air in.

You can prevent cold air from escaping by organizing your cooler so that each opening is as effective as possible. You can do this by placing the items you will use the most on top to minimize the amount of time the lid is open.


9)  Ice to Product Ratio

 A red and white cooler with drinks and ice inside

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Make sure that the ratio of ice to the product in your cooler is 2:1. When your ice box is packed with ice, there is less warm air present, therefore the ice stays in solid shape for a longer period.


10)  Do Not Drain The Melted Ice

 A cooler that has some items at the bottom sitting in melted ice with some ice

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Even if you follow all of the above recommendations, the ice in your cooler may still manage to melt. If possible, do not drain the melted ice. The melted ice will provide insulation and help your cooler maintain its temperature for longer.




Compared to ice cubes and ice blocks, dry ice packs like the ones from Nice Packs generally survive longer. But if you want to keep your cooler cold, it's also essential to pack appropriately and tightly for longer shelf life. To extend the life of your cooler, use the recommendations above.