In Planet Green's weekly Living Off-Grid series, learn basic off-grid survival strategies and tips for cooking, working and having fun.
There are many clean, rust-free relics that were once functional appliances out there. Their only problem is that they no longer work. Not as they were originally intended anyhow. Broken refrigerators are easy to find for free. Turning a broken refrigerator into and ice-box is a good solution for getting started off-grid or for an extended camping trip. They also work as an emergency backup in the city during an outage. A small dorm style fridge is recommended, as it would take a lot of ice to create refrigerator temperatures in a large refrigerator. An old chest style fridge also works well since the cold air stays at the bottom when the door is lifted open.
The concept is too simple for a step by step guide: Simply, put ice in your new icebox along with your perishables and close the door.
A refrigerator provides significantly more insulation than a portable cooler. And it seals more tightly, allowing less arctic air to escape. One bag of ice can create a temperature differential of up to 40 degrees and can last for a couple of days before having to replace the ice.
In climates that get to refrigerator temperatures at night, leaving a container full of water outside at night to freeze (or at least cool down significantly) and then transplanting it to your icebox in the morning before the sun heats the day, can save you from having to buy ice, depending on the season and the climate.