For fairness, I brought equal amounts of water in identical plastic bottles, the cooler and insulated bag to room temperature. A necessary step because some came from our cold storage room. Wait, that sounds like we have a climate-controlled room, what I meant is I had to bring the hard-sided cooler in from its unheated storage room to warm up.
The afternoon temperature outside when I got this experiment underway was -20 C. Almost balmy for this nasty cold spell.
With a bottle of water inside, I placed the hard cooler, the cooler bag, and just a bottle of water, side by side so none were in sunshine and all would chill at the same rate.
Two hours later the temperature had dropped to -25 C outside. The exposed bottle’s water had froze solid but both in the coolers still hadn’t even crystalized yet so I let them be.
My next intention was to check the waters temperature from both cooler bottles to see if one was warmer then the other. I hadn’t planed ahead how I would do this though, so a search began for a thermometer.
Logical place to look first, the bathroom. Bought years ago and still in its package, I found a new digital style thermometer. I read the directions. Battery seemed good so into my mouth for a reading it went. Great news, I had no fever. Before I disturbed the experiment water I tried one more test with a cup of ice water. Umm, I found out it only reads if tip has contact, like under a tongue or in armpit, drats.
Perhaps a meat thermometer? Nope, don’t have one, it probably wouldn’t work in water, anyway. Now, I’m curious about that though.
On our fridge is a decorative magnet with a mercury temperature gage, so it got submerged in a cup of cold water. Keyword, decorative, the red line didn’t move. Funny, I’ve never noticed before that it didn’t work.
Mister joined the search. The only other portable thermometer inside the house is a weather station used to monitor the crawl space which houses our water pipes. This unit has a sensor on a wire, and it is old, almost the first of its kind.
We seldom check it anymore, and on inspection it’s no surprise to see it no longer displayed a reading. Mister took the back off and pushed reset, my job was to locate the tiny screw which dropped to the floor. Reset did nothing, he tested the batteries and changed those.
By this time supper in the oven was on the verge of becoming overlooked so we ate.
At 8:30pm, after 4 and 1/2 hours outside the water in the coolers had started to freeze. The insulated bag one only slightly more than the regular cooler. Not sure the accuracy but when tested the hard cooler water was .2 degrees warmer than cooler bag water.
Results were pretty predictable, but I was curious how much longer groceries would keep from freezing if insulated and if it mattered which we used, a hard or soft cooler.
In minus 20 degree temperatures water took an extra two and half hours to freeze if kept in a well insulated container.
With this knowledge, from now on, our lettuce should make it home safe.
Have you ever wondered how weather effects food delivered by big trucks? A lot more planning goes into this then you may think.
The son works in transportation for a large food distribution company so I asked him.
For transporting frozen and refrigerated goods reefer trailers are used. In extreme cold they can also heat the air so it is warmer inside then outside, keeping cargo at an ideal temperature.
They have 1-3 different temperature areas which can be divided by portable insulated walls. In extreme cold, produce and other sensitive goods, are sometimes wrapped to keep from freezing if they’re placed near doors.
Delicate things like ice cream cakes are put in insulated bags along with being in the freezer section just to make sure they don’t thaw.
Next time you buy groceries, you can now appreciate the work that goes into getting items to the store.
Did you learn anything from this post? I did.