When it comes to keeping your cooler contents as cold as possible, the type of ice you choose can make a huge difference. But how are you supposed to know what’s the best type of ice for coolers — cubed ice, block ice, or dry ice? Which lasts longer? What type of ice is best for my cooler? Let’s start by breaking down the three main types of ice.
Types of Ice For Coolers
- Cubed Ice – Everybody is familiar with cubed ice, great for chilling cooler contents quickly and for overnight trips.
- Block Ice – Whether you buy a commercially packaged block at the grocery store or simply freeze a couple of water-filled milk jugs, block ice melts slower than cubed so it’s a good option for weekend trips.
- Dry Ice – Dry ice, which is a frozen form of carbon dioxide (CO2), is more efficient than regular ice for keeping things cold or even frozen. Ideal for keeping your food and drinks cold or frozen for week-long (or longer) trips, dry ice is also the lightest option, which is helpful when you have to lift or carry your cooler.
The type of ice used in your cooler matters. The best type of ice to use in your cooler is sub-zero ice that is dry or nearly dry to the touch. Ice, as described, will last significantly longer than semi-wet, near 32-degree ice.
Dry ice is the coolest. We suggest the use of dry ice for longer adventures. At -109 degrees (F) and 3x the cooling power, dry ice freezes items quickly and will keep them frozen. You can mix dry ice with block and/or cube ice. However, if you do, make sure to wear protective gloves to prevent a burn from dry ice.
Block Ice vs. Cubed Ice
The slowest melting ice is block ice. Use whenever you can for the longest-lasting performance. Cubed ice will chill your 45-quart cooler & 60 cans of your favorite beverages faster. However, cubes won’t last as long. When it makes sense, use a combination of block and cubed ice in your Kenai cooler.
Combined Cooling Power Of Block Ice and Cubed Ice
Of course, to get the best ice retention from your cooler, you shouldn’t get caught up on block ice vs. cubed ice. Instead, you should use both block ice and cubed ice! Each one has advantages, and by using both, you’ll extend your cooler’s ice retention further than you even meant to.
Pre-chill your cooler with cubed ice. Then empty it out, layer the bottom with block ice, and pack your cooler, being sure to add layers of cubed ice and fill in any open spaces with more cubed ice so that you are following the 2:1 ice ratio. You’ll get the best of both worlds.
What’s the best type of ice to use? Block ice? Cubed ice? Dry ice?
The short answer? All three.
Each will perform great in a Kenai Cooler. Block ice won’t melt as fast as cube ice. But, cube ice will cool your cooler and foods faster. If space permits, consider using a mix of block and cube ice.
Dry ice is the coldest of your options and will perform flawlessly in an insulated cooler. If you use Dry ice make sure to protect your hands with gloves to avoid burns. Use hand protection if you combine Dry ice with block or cube ice.
Your Kenai cooler will retain heat as well as cold. So, keep your cooler stored in a cool area prior to packing. It’s always best to keep your cooler out of direct sunlight, warm locations, or a hot vehicle. By keeping your cooler cool before using it, ice will last longer.
Additional tips on How To Keeper A Cooler Cold
- Keep the inside water – Water at the bottom of your cooler will be nearly the same temperature as ice. So, don’t toss it away. Just make sure to keep meat and other foods protected from the water.
- Keep everything else cool – The performance of your Kenai Cooler will be enhanced – and the life of ice extended – if everything going into your cooler at the start of your adventure is cool, cold, or frozen.
- The error of air – Always pack your cooler with as much ice as possible. The most open space you have inside the more air you have. And air accelerates the rate at which ice melts.
- Keep covered up – Direct sun is a cooler’s worst nightmare. Ice will melt twice as fast if the cooler is in direct sun v. shade. Whenever possible, cover the cooler with a blanket or towel for maximum performance.
- Limit access – Minimize air from escaping the cooler by limiting access. Only open the cooler as needed and close the lid immediately.