Clay pot cooler - Canari Frigo - Tonkrugkühler

Photo Attribution: By Peter Rinker (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

So, this is a really cool idea I wanted to pass along. The people of Sudan have come up with an innovative way to keep their produce fresh for significantly longer by using these clay refrigeration systems known as Zeer pots. In the severe heat of their country, produce only lasts a couple of days before going bad. Many people lose half of their crops to spoilage because of a lack of refrigeration, sadly leading starvation for many. Fortunately, a new method of preserving their crops is being taught, and more and more Sudanese are learning how to keep their produce fresh for up to three weeks longer than they normally could by making and using their own Zeer pots.

I love this idea because it doesn’t require any consumable resources; no gas, no kerosene, no electricity whatsoever. Nothing but nature itself: two clay pots, sand, and water. It works off of evaporative cooling.

Here’s how you can make your own:

1. You need two large terracotta pots, one larger than the other. Plug any holes.

2. Pour sand into the bottom of the larger pot, enough that when you place the smaller pot inside, it’s rim is level with the rim of larger pot. There needs to be about an inch of space, or slightly more, between the smaller pot and the larger one.

3. Fill in the gap between the pots with sand, all the way to the rim.

4. Now, pour water over the sand until it begins to puddle on top. Place the pots in a shady place, to help maintain coolness.

5. Place a damp cloth over the pots to help hold in the cooler temperature.

6. Make sure to add enough water every day to keep the sand moist.

The pots will begin to absorb the water, which will then evaporate causing the pots and their contents to become cooler. Zeer pots really need to be in a low humidity environment to work.

They won’t produce cold enough temps to safely preserve meat, but they are definitely useful for drinks and fresh produce.

Many Sudanese have multiple pots around their homes, so don’t feel limited to just having one of these!