Cooler and ice management and you.

What do you eat and drink on the playa? Share ideas, recipes and advice here.
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CapSmashy
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Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby CapSmashy » Sat Aug 09, 2014 9:24 am

Captain Smashy's Saturday morning advice for food storage, cooler management and ice management on the Playa. Or. How I learned to not get the shits on the Playa.

All of us have, at some point in our lives, experienced the profound "OH GOD! WHY DID THIS HAPPEN TO ME!" moment when you are trapped inside a bathroom type space and your bowels are making it quite plain that they are PROFOUNDLY unhappy with your decision making skills.

What is the #1 cause of allowing you to create your liquid, fecal spray masterpiece? Poor cooler management, cross contamination and improper food handling. When you open the ice chest and all of your food items have blended together in a small lake of ice melt that has created a soupy, cross contaminated bacterial smorgasbord of nutritional "enhancements" and you proceed to dig in there anyway and eat something, you have literally uncorked your fate.
First timers, I can assure with ALL SINCERITY that the porta pottie IS THE LAST PLACE ON THE PLAYA you want to be trapped in at 3 o'clock on a hot Burning Man afternoon. If it is a full sun 105 degree afternoon outside the magic blue house of love, You can be guaranteed it will be at least 237 degrees inside your new home for the next hour.

How to avoid this Burning Man experience.
1. KEEP YOUR DAMNED, DIRTY, STINKING PAWS OUT OF THE COOLER. After a lovely morning stroll around Black Rock City, you will have touched, grabbed or otherwise physically interacted with hundreds of objects that were touched, grabbed or otherwise physically interacted with by THOUSANDS of other people.

Hand sanitizer. I am normally against the overuse of such a product because it has more negative long run results than positive. On the Playa is one of the few places I make an exception because I do not want the combined effects of the leftover sweat, urine, fecal matter and other bodily fluids from THOUSANDS of other people that touched what I touched interacting with the food that I am going to eat.

Gloves. Latex free exam gloves are your other best friend when it comes to food handling in the desert. One, it keeps the funk on your hands off the food and two, it keeps the funk of the food off your hands.

Just remember: I do not want the shits. I will wash my hands and/or wear gloves before I stick my paws in my cooler and handle my food.


2. PROPER COOLER MANAGEMENT. Now, if you are one of the people that rolls exclusively on non-perishable items, canned food, prepackaged foods, MRE's, backpacker meals, etc and only uses a cooler for drinks, you can disregard this portion, but pay attention to #3. For everyone else that enjoys fresh food out there that needs refrigeration, pay attention.

The basics. Keep your proteins separated from the food that your protein sources like to eat. Ideally, you would have multiple coolers, one strictly for raw meats, one for other food sources, one for drinks only, etc. If your marinating chicken comes in contact with your marinating ribeyes, you will be okay. If your marinating pork chops leak on your caesar salad, you are fucked.

We vacuum seal EVERYTHING into single serving portion sizes before it goes in the cooler. Yes, you can even seal that caeser salad from all outside contaminants. If you do not have access to a vacuum sealer, double bagging in ziplock style FREEZER bags is almost as good. Use the freezer bags. They are made from thicker plastic and have the best seal of all the ziplock style bags.

If you have room for them, snap click style ice box dishes are awesome as well. They have a gasket in the lid that seals the container when you snap the tabs shut. In an experiment, I filled a snap lock container with flour and submerged it in water with a brick for a week. The flour stayed dry.

Just remember: I do not want the shits. I will keep my cooler contents sealed and segregated.


3. ICE MANAGEMENT The contents of one bag of ice or 1 block of ice sold at Arctica will fit inside a 2 gallon ziplock freezer bag. As your ice melts, the ice melt is contained within the ziplock bag. Block ice will last up to twice as long in your food storage cooler(s) compared to the crushed ice.

Keep the bags of ice upright in the cooler because ziplock bags usually always leak a little bit if they are left on their side full of liquid.

Keeping your ice in a sealed bag in your cooler:
A. Helps eliminate the risks of cross contamination.
B. Your ice will last longer.
C. It provides a source of clean ice to use in drinks.

Ice melt is magical, wonderful stuff when you keep it clean and has a number of uses:
A. Use it fill a shower bag.
B. Use it to fill a pump sprayer or spray bottle
C. Save in a clean container (like an empty water jug) for hand washing, cooking, doing the dishes, etc.
D, Ice cold ice melt in a camel back mixed with some electrolyte powder will give you a cold, hydrating beverage AND help keep you cool for a while on your afternoon adventures.
E. Any other use you have for clean water while in the desert. Be creative, there are lots of uses for clean, cold water.
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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby lucky420 » Sat Aug 09, 2014 10:46 am

Thanks Cap for putting this in one place for me. I've been thinking about my ice situation but have been to busy right now for research.


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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby Meat Hunter » Sat Aug 09, 2014 11:26 am

To assure that my ice melts into pure drinking water and prevent cross contamination of the contents of my cooler, I intend to bring my home-style table top vacuum bagging machine to vacuum pack my ice before it goes into my cooler.

Once the ice has melted; I can either leave the plastic bag (with more vacuum packed ice) to cool in the cooler or remove the vacuum sealed bag and use the uncontaminated to water for a multiple of uses.

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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby trilobyte » Sat Aug 09, 2014 11:57 am

Good stuff, thanks for posting.

I'll add this tip... If you or a campmate has got an older/smaller cooler that you're able to bring along.... use that one for drink ice! We do that at our camp, and have an ice scoop that's tethered to the cooler (to keep it from walking away or being set down on some other thing or hitting the ground).

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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby Elliot » Sat Aug 09, 2014 1:18 pm

:D
Fabulous information, Smashy!

But if it goes horribly wrong anyway, I suggest two or three pills of Imodium A-D, also sold generic -- the ingredient is Loperamide Hydrochloride. Yes, A-D stands for Anti-Diarrhea. Don't leave home without it, I say.
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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby maladroit » Sat Aug 09, 2014 1:29 pm

I've had good results with the Pepto-Bismol (oxymoronically named) "To-Go" tablets. They're in a small tube sort of like a chapstick.

Imodium will definitely slam on the brakes, though.

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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby Maizie » Sat Aug 09, 2014 1:40 pm

Thank you for this post - nice to see everything gathered together!

We've had success with the Ziploc plastic containers as well - stick cheese, etc, into the containers, and then set them on top of the ice. I don't trust them submerged, though.

I think we'll be Ziploc'ing all our ice this year - I really like all the melt water being contained.
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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby EspressoDude » Sat Aug 09, 2014 9:38 pm

worst of this scenario: raw meat in grocery store packaging (it is not totally sealed) floating in ice melt in the cooler. reach in with dirty hands and grab some ice cubes for a drink. now you have raw meat bacteria, etc. in your drink. Try this day or so before exodus..... you won't make it out the gate, and there are no (or damn few) little blue rooms on the way out.
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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby chuckularone » Sun Aug 10, 2014 6:05 am

Just added prevention (2 gallon zip locks (already had gloves and hand sanitizer)) and "cure" (Imodium) to my shopping list already have ducolax on the list. I was more concerned with the binding problem than with the "fecal spray" issue.
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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby AntiM » Sun Aug 10, 2014 6:47 am

We never use our food cooler water for drinking, or that ice for drinks. Ice melt goes to foot baths, swamp cooler water, or dust abatement. We have a dispenser cooler with ice and water in it. We simply have never made iced drinks in camp.

My grandest meltdown (at a regional) was screaming at a camp mate who would not stay out of the raw meat cooler, she was using that ice in her coffee. To this day, she is nervous around me. I don't dislike her for that incident, my simmering distain dates from the day I met her.

We do vac-seal, we cover and elevate (my cooler cozies have been to more burns than most people), and we keep drinks and food in separate coolers. And no more raw meat, ever.

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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby aaronsewell » Tue Sep 09, 2014 8:15 pm

I love the idea of putting the ice in zip lock bags so you can reuse the cold water for later. That is brilliant! Thank you for the idea.

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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby GreyCoyote » Tue Sep 09, 2014 8:41 pm

Excellent ideas.

If you have the means, (or are truly insane), you could also bring a "real" freezer to the playa. No ice melt to worry about and everything stays frozen rock solid the entire time. This isn't as difficult as it sounds. We dragged two all the way from Texas. Kowtow also brought one, and Elliot brought a stand-up fridge/freezer combo! Ours stayed below 0F the entire burn and made for very flexible meal planning.

Even a very small genny will run two chest freezers. When we did the math(s) :mrgreen: , we found a surprise: it was cheaper to run the genny than it would have been to buy ice for igloo coolers of the same capacity. Running just the freezers we burned 2 gals/day, and we could have cut that in half by only running for half of each day. (On the trip back we experimented with this concept, and never got above 15F running for 12 hours on / 12 hours off.)

With little freezers so cheap, and with many camps moving towards having AC power, this notion becomes more and more practical.
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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby graidawg » Tue Sep 09, 2014 8:46 pm

ziplock EVERYTHING also precook where possible. and yea keep your hands out.
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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby Meat Hunter » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:33 pm

GreyCoyote,

My dry ice plan for my frozen, pre-cooked and vacuum packed food did not work as well as I had wished. I am considering bringing a small chest type freezer in my trailer next year.

How did you vent the exhaust from your 200i running inside the trailer while you were traveling and while the generator was powering your freezer?

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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby robrob » Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:43 pm

meathunter: i think i am going to do a hybrid approach next year; dry ice for the drive out and then switch to a chest freezer once on playa. (dry ice is pretty cheaep in chicago- don't see the need to mess around running a genny in a packed truck/trailer)

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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby Meat Hunter » Wed Sep 10, 2014 12:13 am

robrob,

Your hybrid dry ice/freezer combination sounds like a good plan.

In Mississippi, I loaded my 10 deg. cooked, frozen and vacuum packed food in a Yeti cooler with 40 lbs. dry ice. Four days later when I arrived in Fallon, NV the dry ice was gone, the food appeared to still be ~frozen and I loaded up again with 40 lbs.

In another 5 days later and by then my dry ice was gone, but my food was just slightly beginning to thaw.

For the remainder of my burn I kept the cooler full of ice and by the Wednesday after the burn the food was fully thawed and I was afraid to eat the remainder of my thawed food on my 4-1/2 day return trip home.

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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby GreyCoyote » Wed Sep 10, 2014 3:47 am

Meat Hunter: I made a plywood box enclosure for the genny to sit inside, and bolted that onto the tongue of the trailer. The enclosure was pretty meatball visually, but worked well. The critical thing on the EU2000 is to duct the heat and exhaust out and upwards, and to allow only cool air in from the bottom of the enclosure. (If you want more details on where and how the EU draws it's cooling air, lets go to a PM or start another thread. Airflow is not obvious and I nearly killed mine during testing when I assumed all the air comes in via the front vent. Not true!!!)

The box enclosure let us run while in motion as well as parked. A bonus: at night I turned the trailers forward-facing 100 watt halogen light on so theft of the genny or the truck wouldn't be a problem. I could tell at a glance from the motel room if the genny was running

We ran 24/7 all the way out to the burn and while on the playa. It was wonderful to have "unlimited" cold and not have to worry about limiting "ins-and-outs". Most folks really have to sweat this and limit themselves to one or two openings per day. We averaged a couple per hour most of the day and night. :D

I think your hybrid idea would be fine but suggest one caution. Dry ice is really too cold to put in an operating freezer. I would be worried it could cook the compressor or freeze the refrigerant in the evaporator, so I'd do some serious research there first. This may be a worry without basis, but I'd want to find out before I started a cross-country trip through the desert! Maybe the best bet is to freeze the fuzzy flock out of the foods with the freezer set to its coldest setting for a week pre-departure, disconnect power, add the dry ice, and make the trip to BRC. Once on the playa, let the freezer warm-up to about 0F and then apply power.

I should also add that the freezers we were using (Sams Club) would have been fine running just 10-14 hours per day. They had good insulation.

FWIW, I knew a guy who had unlimited access to liquid nitrogen from the oilfield service company he owned. He put a dribble of N2 into his coolers overnight and then did a coast-to-coast trip. The food was still hard-frozen at the other end after 5 days. If you have this capability, it might work better than dry ice.
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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby FIGJAM » Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:15 am

You didn't mention how handy the freezers were for cutting down on the ice runs!

Having bags of ice ready to grab was GREAT!!! 8)
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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby GreyCoyote » Wed Sep 10, 2014 7:03 am

FIGJAM wrote:You didn't mention how handy the freezers were for cutting down on the ice runs!

Having bags of ice ready to grab was GREAT!!! 8)


Good point! I had forgotten about that!

As one freezer was emptied, Figjam, MaryAnimal and Chuckularone did a *monster* ice run and came back with about 20 bags, all of which we stored in the freezer for future use. Very handy to be able to hit Arctica just once or twice for the whole week!
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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby unjonharley » Wed Sep 10, 2014 7:34 am

Putting the ice in one gallon (square) containers was my way of handling melt water.. Four one gallon and two 1/2 gallon with large opening.. I used some up for the one gallon drink container.. Needed two bags from artica to make it through the week.. Coyote, thanks for the extra ice..
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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby GreyCoyote » Wed Sep 10, 2014 3:27 pm

unjonharley wrote:Putting the ice in one gallon (square) containers was my way of handling melt water.. Four one gallon and two 1/2 gallon with large opening.. I used some up for the one gallon drink container.. Needed two bags from artica to make it through the week.. Coyote, thanks for the extra ice..


Aint you dead yet, Gramps? :shock: (huge grin) :mrgreen:

(Nobody needs to get grumpy over that comment. UnJohn and I became best insult buddies this year, and this particular bit of banter was a recurring them between us. I blame it all on CaptGodDammit for absconding to Hawai'i instead of keeping this old coot away from me. heheheh. On a serious note, he's actually a grand gentleman and I look forward to having many more burns with him in our camp!)
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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby unjonharley » Wed Sep 10, 2014 3:39 pm

GreyCoyote wrote:
unjonharley wrote:Putting the ice in one gallon (square) containers was my way of handling melt water.. Four one gallon and two 1/2 gallon with large opening.. I used some up for the one gallon drink container.. Needed two bags from artica to make it through the week.. Coyote, thanks for the extra ice..


Aint you dead yet, Gramps? :shock: (huge grin) :mrgreen:

(Nobody needs to get grumpy over that comment. UnJohn and I became best insult buddies this year, and this particular bit of banter was a recurring them between us. I blame it all on CaptGodDammit for absconding to Hawai'i instead of keeping this old coot away from me. heheheh. On a serious note, he's actually a grand gentleman and I look forward to having many more burns with him in our camp!)

Never mind him.. he falls into the same ugly mess as the captain, goddammit.
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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby dragonpilot » Fri Nov 14, 2014 3:26 pm

Our freezer is about half the size of a full-size. The generator runs only at night to power camp lights and the freezer...about 8 hours a day. That said, we still buy lots of ice for the other coolers...dairy, veggies, drinks, meats/cheeses, beer, fruit.
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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby tamarakay » Fri Nov 14, 2014 3:51 pm

As our travel trailer lay having its death spasms on the side of the road outside santa Maria New Mexico, I remembered this post. Bought everything we needed in fernley, a camp mate picked up a huge chunk of dry ice I rent and brought it to us. And we had the best food year ever on playa.

Thanks smashy!
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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby spacetime » Tue Aug 11, 2015 8:56 am

I was looking for info on potential bacteria growth in the swamp cooler (sounds like that is not a problem so long as clean water is used), and I came across this lovely thread.

I bought ice almost every day last year. I'm curious what kinds of sealing plastic bags or other sealed containers people are using for bags of cooler ice. (Apart from separating it into separate zip locks)
Last edited by spacetime on Tue Aug 11, 2015 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby Joeln » Tue Aug 11, 2015 9:01 am

I cut open one end of a 2 1/2 gallon water jug and put a bag of ice cubes in it.
Keeps the cooler cold and provides cold melt water to drink.
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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby asr9754 » Tue Aug 11, 2015 9:19 am

Block ice, left in bag, bag placed into an XL Ziplock bag. Block ice lasts longer, ziplock holds clean melted water. It leaks a little but not bad if you can keep the Ziplock bag from getting smashed in the cooler.
Also cubed ice left in bag, bag placed in cut-off plastic jug.
If you are further concerned about bacteria in your swamp cooler, you can add just a few drops of bleach to your swampie.

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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby Meat Hunter » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:43 pm

Although not for everyone, I did carry my small vacuum packing machine with me this year and vacuum packed my ice before placing it in my ice chest. The vacuum bag material came in rolls and it was easy to cut and make bags in the lengths that I needed.

This plan worked and it worked quite well. It kept my melt water clean for drinking and kept water off those items that were sensitive to being wet, i.e. lettuce and bread.

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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby Sham » Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:28 pm

Someone was looking for this, so I think it deserves a bump. 8)
CapSmashy wrote:Captain Smashy's Saturday morning advice for food storage, cooler management and ice management on the Playa. Or. How I learned to not get the shits on the Playa.

All of us have, at some point in our lives, experienced the profound "OH GOD! WHY DID THIS HAPPEN TO ME!" moment when you are trapped inside a bathroom type space and your bowels are making it quite plain that they are PROFOUNDLY unhappy with your decision making skills.

What is the #1 cause of allowing you to create your liquid, fecal spray masterpiece? Poor cooler management, cross contamination and improper food handling. When you open the ice chest and all of your food items have blended together in a small lake of ice melt that has created a soupy, cross contaminated bacterial smorgasbord of nutritional "enhancements" and you proceed to dig in there anyway and eat something, you have literally uncorked your fate.
First timers, I can assure with ALL SINCERITY that the porta pottie IS THE LAST PLACE ON THE PLAYA you want to be trapped in at 3 o'clock on a hot Burning Man afternoon. If it is a full sun 105 degree afternoon outside the magic blue house of love, You can be guaranteed it will be at least 237 degrees inside your new home for the next hour.

How to avoid this Burning Man experience.
1. KEEP YOUR DAMNED, DIRTY, STINKING PAWS OUT OF THE COOLER. After a lovely morning stroll around Black Rock City, you will have touched, grabbed or otherwise physically interacted with hundreds of objects that were touched, grabbed or otherwise physically interacted with by THOUSANDS of other people.

Hand sanitizer. I am normally against the overuse of such a product because it has more negative long run results than positive. On the Playa is one of the few places I make an exception because I do not want the combined effects of the leftover sweat, urine, fecal matter and other bodily fluids from THOUSANDS of other people that touched what I touched interacting with the food that I am going to eat.

Gloves. Latex free exam gloves are your other best friend when it comes to food handling in the desert. One, it keeps the funk on your hands off the food and two, it keeps the funk of the food off your hands.

Just remember: I do not want the shits. I will wash my hands and/or wear gloves before I stick my paws in my cooler and handle my food.


2. PROPER COOLER MANAGEMENT. Now, if you are one of the people that rolls exclusively on non-perishable items, canned food, prepackaged foods, MRE's, backpacker meals, etc and only uses a cooler for drinks, you can disregard this portion, but pay attention to #3. For everyone else that enjoys fresh food out there that needs refrigeration, pay attention.

The basics. Keep your proteins separated from the food that your protein sources like to eat. Ideally, you would have multiple coolers, one strictly for raw meats, one for other food sources, one for drinks only, etc. If your marinating chicken comes in contact with your marinating ribeyes, you will be okay. If your marinating pork chops leak on your caesar salad, you are fucked.

We vacuum seal EVERYTHING into single serving portion sizes before it goes in the cooler. Yes, you can even seal that caeser salad from all outside contaminants. If you do not have access to a vacuum sealer, double bagging in ziplock style FREEZER bags is almost as good. Use the freezer bags. They are made from thicker plastic and have the best seal of all the ziplock style bags.

If you have room for them, snap click style ice box dishes are awesome as well. They have a gasket in the lid that seals the container when you snap the tabs shut. In an experiment, I filled a snap lock container with flour and submerged it in water with a brick for a week. The flour stayed dry.

Just remember: I do not want the shits. I will keep my cooler contents sealed and segregated.


3. ICE MANAGEMENT The contents of one bag of ice or 1 block of ice sold at Arctica will fit inside a 2 gallon ziplock freezer bag. As your ice melts, the ice melt is contained within the ziplock bag. Block ice will last up to twice as long in your food storage cooler(s) compared to the crushed ice.

Keep the bags of ice upright in the cooler because ziplock bags usually always leak a little bit if they are left on their side full of liquid.

Keeping your ice in a sealed bag in your cooler:
A. Helps eliminate the risks of cross contamination.
B. Your ice will last longer.
C. It provides a source of clean ice to use in drinks.

Ice melt is magical, wonderful stuff when you keep it clean and has a number of uses:
A. Use it fill a shower bag.
B. Use it to fill a pump sprayer or spray bottle
C. Save in a clean container (like an empty water jug) for hand washing, cooking, doing the dishes, etc.
D, Ice cold ice melt in a camel back mixed with some electrolyte powder will give you a cold, hydrating beverage AND help keep you cool for a while on your afternoon adventures.
E. Any other use you have for clean water while in the desert. Be creative, there are lots of uses for clean, cold water.

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BBadger
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Re: Cooler and ice management and you.

Postby BBadger » Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:11 am

What I like to do is use old orange juice bottles or other refillable bottles and freeze a solid block of ice in my home refrigerator as my ice for my initial drive into the playa. It keeps the water in a sealed container and also lasts a very long time (3-4 days in the shade) keeping the food cold.

The bottled water is nice too because it doesn't get any of the contents of the cooler wet, and you can use it as potable water later if you want.

If you're thinking that elevating your cooler off the ground will make a difference you need to just buy a (better) insulated cooler. Those 5-day coolers are relatively cheap and available year-round (look online for comparisons about which brands are better). Don't use those uninsulated coolers for anything except storage chests or maybe shower/evap-cooler water.

You can use foldable wash basins to put your ice bags into inside your cooler to make it easier transport the melted water outside the cooler and segregate it from the rest of the contents of the cooler.
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