The refrigerator is a great invention that has hugely increased the time we can keep out food without it spoiling. However, whilst it is an essential tool to store food safely for some foods, others do not respond well to lower temperatures and can lose much of their flavor and even spoil quicker when stored in the fridge.
The Zeer Pot: $5 Refrigeration Without Electricity
- Two Clay Pots (one small enough to fit inside the other)
How to make a zeer pot
The inexpensive terra-cotta clay flowerpots sold in nurseries and discount stores are great for use when making a Zeer Pot, although any clay pot will work fine. Make sure the pots you choose are unglazed, since evaporation is essential for the Zeer Pot to properly work.
When choosing your clay pots, the smaller one should fit inside the larger one with some airspace between the walls of the two pots. About an inch of airspace should be enough for most of the typical terra-cotta flower pots, but if you opt for larger pots you may need a little more airspace.
To begin making the zeer pot, plug the holes in the bottom of the pots (if you opted to use flower pots)with clay, silicone sealer, caulk, etc. You can also cover them with tape or anything else that closes the gap.
Place a thin layer of sand—about aninch—in the bottom of the larger clay pot. Then set the smaller pot inside the larger one on top of the sand. Fill the space between the walls of the pots with sand until the sand reaches the top of the smaller pot.
Next, pour water into the sand until the sand is soaked through. A funnel can be useful for this purpose.The sand needs to be completely wet, but it should not be soaked until the water is floating above the sand. It’s best to use water that is also pure enough to drink, since the clay walls of the pot are porous. However, if you wish to use water that is not potable for your Zeer Pot, you can glaze the INSIDE of the smaller pot.
Your Zeer Pot is complete! Cover it with a damp towel or an unglazed clay lid. Place the Zeer Pot in a warm spot with plenty of air circulation. Try an avoid any spots that may have high humidity, as this will lessen the pot’s effectiveness.
In a few hours, the inside of the ZeerPot should be cool enough for refrigeration. For consistent refrigeration, you’ll need to add more water to the sand about twice a day. Depending on outside conditions, the temperature inside a ZeerPot can reach between 15 and 40 degrees.
The Zeer Pot works through evaporation.As the moisture in the sand evaporates, it pulls heat from the innermost and cools the internal temperature of your “refrigerator.”This device works best in drier climates. In humid areas, it may be ineffective.
Source: The Survivalist Blog
Video by HouseholdHacker
Methods of Alternative Refrigeration
Evaporative Cooler Fridge
- A shelf unit
- Burlap bags
- Clamps or clothespins
- Large pan for water (if needed)
- A cheap PVC shelf unit from you local hardware store works well. It’s lightweight and inexpensive.
- Assemble shelf with the top shelf inverted (shown in picture) to use as a built-in tray for water.
- Cut burlap to fit around shelf. I recommend doing this ahead of time in case you need to sew pieces together.
- Soak burlap in water and place around shelf as shown using the clamps or clothespins to hold cloth in place.
- Fill the top (or large pan/cookie sheet) with water.
- Leave an extra amount of burlap folded over on the top to soak in the water.
As the water wicks down the burlap there’s a cooling effect on the items placed inside on the shelf.
Putting it in the shade is of course optimal and a slight breeze is helpful too.
One year when I was at a family reunion in Pinedale, AZ during the summer, we used this alternative refrigeration method to keep our things cool because there was a short supply of ice for coolers. It worked VERY well.
Using a solar oven of all things!
This is a fabulous way to sometimes actually MAKE ice at night in the same item that you used during the day to cook your food! You can then use the ice to cool things during the day. The only problem with this option is that it requires you have to have a clear NIGHT to work.
Set it up like a solar oven. The same rules apply. Just put the jar or pan with a bag around it with the water inside. The air is concentrated into the container just like the sun is during the day. In the morning you have ice, or at the least you can put an item that needs to keep cool inside the pot so that the temperature can be colder during the night.
Two Examples Radiant Cooling
How to Use the Solar Funnel as a Refrigerator/Cooler
Here’s an excerpt from the writing of Steven Jones, a retired physics professor.
“Funnel Cooker can be used – at night – as a refrigerator. Here is how this is done.
The Solar Funnel Cooker is set-up just as you would during sun-light hours, with two exceptions:
- The funnel is directed at the dark night sky. It should not “see” any buildings or even trees. (The thermal radiation from walls, trees, or even clouds will diminish the cooling effect.)
- It helps to place 2 (two) bags around the jar instead of just one, with air spaces between the bags and between the inner bag and the jar. HDPE and ordinary polyethylene bags work well, since polyethylene is nearly transparent to infrared radiation, allowing it to escape into the “heat sink” of the dark sky.
During the day, the sun’s rays are reflected onto the cooking vessel which becomes hot quickly. At night, heat from the vessel is radiated outward, towards empty space, which is very cold indeed (a “heat sink”).
As a result, the cooking vessel now becomes a small refrigerator. We routinely achieve cooling of about 20º F (10º C) below ambient air temperature using this remarkably simple scheme.”
Using a Solar Oven as a Radiant Refrigerator at Night
Richard McMahon of Western Australia
He used a box cooker to make ice. The “Uncooker” was placed in a location where it saw a maximum amount of sky and no trees or buildings. He was getting ice in the cooker even though the outside temperature was above freezing. During the summer months he was unable to make ice.
Later he built a radiant refrigerator. During the summer months the temperature inside the fridge would not rise above 16° C. Read More . . .
Source: Provident Living Today
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