I have a confession to make: I am now officially hooked on Jericho.
Some friends of ours let us borrow their Jericho: The First Season DVDs, and Jerry and I could NOT stop watching. Seriously, we had a five-hour movie marathon over the weekend, and both of us were completely enthralled into the wee morning hours.
FIVE HOURS STRAIGHT people! That’s more TV than I normally watch in a month!
It’s a good thing we only had the first two discs, or it would have been bad for everyone.
In the show, I saw them do something that I found incredibly interesting – and that I’ve done before myself. They make ice with no electricity!
In the show, the man was dying with a horrible fever, there was no electricity so they had no ice.
A teacher remembered a science experiment that created ice from water and fertilizer and was able to create a block of ice in time to cool the man off.
There are a few different ways to make ice from electricity, which I’ll detail below, starting with the method shown in Jericho. Let’s dive in! Method 1: Making Ice Using Fertilizer and Water
Before I dive into the instructions on this one (the Jericho method), I should note that you’ll need fertilizer and water as your two core ingredients. I’ve chosen to use ammonium nitrate, but you could also use calcium chloride.
Method #1: The Easiest One
- Ammonium Nitrate (a fertilizer made up of a 50/50 mixture of ammonium and nitrate; found at farm and garden stores)
- a bucket or large bowl
- a smaller metal bowl (small enough to fit inside the other container)
- Mix equal parts water and fertilizer in a bucket or a large bowl, till dissolved.
- Next, carefully place the smaller metal bowl half filled with water in the bucket. Note: it must be a metal bowl, plastic will not work. The bowl of water will freeze, though it takes several hours from what I’ve read.
If this works, not only would it be an awesome science project for the kiddos, but would also be a potential lifesaver if you were ever in a situation where you’d lost power and desperately needed to cool something/someone off.
Method 2: Making Ice With a Solar Freezer
You can purchase a solar freezer online for not that much money, and the benefit of this is that it will allow you to make ice whenever you need to without electricity.
You can also DIY your own solar freezer. All you need is a covered container, insulation material like cloth, sand, or even mud, and, if possible, some ice chunks or ice cubes you already have.
First, start by lining the container with the insulation material and making sure there are no exposed sections that could leak cold air.
Once the insulation is secure, add water to just below the top of the container and place any available pre-existing ice chunks on top of the water. If not available, salt can be used instead, but this will take longer and isn’t as reliable.
Finally, cover the entire container with its lid and ensure that it’s well sealed. After three days in direct sunlight, the water should have frozen enough for use as solid ice blocks in whatever form or size you intended it for!
For this method, all you need is a container, some food-grade gloves, and of course, the key ingredient – dry ice.
Safety should always come first!
Ensure all the pieces of dry ice are broken up into small, manageable pieces so riding gloves will help protect your hands from contact with the frozen solid carbon dioxide.
Start by covering the bottom of the container with pieces of dry ice and slowly layer in more as you fill up your container to get a consistent mixture of remaining smoke and liquid carbon dioxide as it begins to thaw.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a colder climate, like those in the northernmost parts of America, you may want to consider using the great outdoors to solve your ice-making dilemma.
I’m fortunate that where I live, in upstate New York, we have freezing or below-freezing temperatures for most of the winter months (typically mid-November through mid-March, at the very least).
Because of this, making ice without electricity by leveraging the great outdoors is easy during the winter – all we have to do is go outside. But the real problem comes with storage if you want to make enough ice to get you through to warmer months when this method obviously won’t be possible.
Storing ice without electricity can be tricky, but it is possible. You don’t necessarily need an ice house like people in the 1800s had; you just need a cold space that’s somewhat insulated.
Of course, this won’t be an option at all times of the year, but if you can do some advance planning, you can do some ice harvesting during cold temperatures to be used later on. In cold environments, such as up in the mountains, chunks of natural ice form along rivers and around lakes as temperatures drop below zero.
If you don’t have a place to harvest ice, you can make your own ice and then keep it frozen for long periods of time by following the tips below.
Firstly, you’ll need an insulated cooler or box made of material with low thermal conductivity, such as cork or sawdust. Fill up an ice cube tray with water, then put it in a freezer bag to prevent dirt from ending up in your ice.
Put the ice cube tray outside at night, when temperatures drop below freezing. You can expedite the freezing of water by boiling the water first.
To maximize insulation, fill any air gaps and line the container with newspaper, emergency blankets, or Mylar.
Next, locate a nearby non-polluted water source, such as a spring or stream, and fill the container to the brim; this will reduce the amount of air inside and increase insulation further.
Place smaller items like pieces of wood in between boxes or coolers and use blankets to wrap them up- these will act as additional insulators and should help keep your ice from melting too quickly. You’ll place your ice cube trays inside the cooler or other container. If you can, use both cubes and large blocks of ice to help the ice stay frozen longer.
Now, you’ll have an ice tray that should stay frozen inside the container even when the outside surroundings begin to heat up. I recommend storing it in a root cellar or another cold food storage location to keep your food cool as long as possible.
Here’s a video with a version of this method to teach you more:
Converting an electric ice maker machine into a solar-powered unit is a great way to make ice without electricity – you can easily hook up an ice maker to batteries with solar panels without having to really rewire the ice maker at all.
To begin, you will first need to buy the necessary components for the conversion, such as photovoltaic panels, a solar charge controller, and deep-cycle batteries.
Once you’ve acquired the components, you’ll need to install them correctly in order to make sure your ice maker can draw power from the sun.
After installation is complete, periodically check all connections to ensure they are free of any damage and properly connected. Finally, program your solar charge controller in order for it to provide a steady voltage which will ensure that your ice-making machine operates under optimal conditions at all times.
Here’s a video that shows how to use an electric ice maker in this way:
Instead of using a traditional freezer, the bell jar and vacuum pump method is an effective solution for creating ice quickly and efficiently.
This technique begins by allowing a container of either water or a combination of salt and water to almost completely fill the bell jar. The lid is then placed over the jar which creates an airtight seal.
A vacuum pump is used to remove all the air molecules from inside the container, leaving nothing but chilled vapors.
Learn more about how to make your own portable ice maker with this method by watching the video below:
If you’re reading the above tutorial about how to make ice using dry ice, you might be thinking, “well, that’s great. But dry ice is hard to find, and I don’t have any of that either.” Fortunately, there is a solution.
First, you must get yourself a fire extinguisher or air duster, which contains pressurized carbon dioxide. Make sure to take all the necessary safety precautions before proceeding, as the pressure could cause an accident if handled carelessly. I recommend wearing gloves and eye protection at the very least.
Remove the locking pin on the fire extinguisher and press down on the handle. You’ll see a force of carbon dioxide vapor coming out. This is extremely cold, so the key here is to capture it.
You can pump the fire extinguisher into a pillowcase, and you’ll notice a solid buildup of ice at the bottom of the bag. You should find enough to make a decent-sized snowball of dry ice to store your perishable food.
Here’s a video with more details:
A small propane freezer uses the heat of combustion to create a cooling effect, rather than using electrical power. This is perfect for adventurous campers who don’t want to limit their travels in search of perfect locations.
Because this type of appliance doesn’t require a lot of space, it’s also convenient and unobtrusive when on the move.
As an added benefit, the portable nature of the propane freezer allows you to make ice anywhere – even if there’s no nearby water source – and bring your creations home with you after your travels.
I’m totally putting this on my list of things to try!
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.