People have been storing ice well before the advent of the home freezer. You can still store it without electricity, and you can store it in your own back yard with an eco-friendly ice house. An ice house can be used as a non-electric deep freeze. If you can't resist the Schwan man's wares, an ice house might be for you.

What You'll Need

-Concrete Masonry Units

-Sheets of Wood


-Recycled Shingles

-Straw or Sawdust


-Tape Measure


- Nails

- Hinges

- Handle

- An Old Tire

What You'll Do

First, the ice house needs to be in a shady spot. Find one in your yard. If you have a garage, I recommend building the ice house near the garage. You can build an overhang or trellis off of the garage wall to increase the shadiness over your ice house.

The size of the ice house is dependent on the amount of ice that you need. It doesn't have to be house-sized. In ye good olde days, people kept ice through the summer months by packing sawdust over ice and throwing a tarp on top of it. Your ice house doesn't have to be much fancier or larger.

The ice, however, has to be about fifteen to twenty inches away from the walls. So the length of your ice house should be: 15in + the size of your ice + 15in. Let's say that you want to want to store a 2 x 2 x 2 chunk of ice. That means your ice house would need to be 54 inches long, high and wide. Use math to figure for different amounts of ice.

Now that you've figured for size, you will need a shovel. Dig a hole a few inches larger than the planned sized of your ice house. You'll want to fill the hole with concrete masonry units, aka cinderblocks. The tops of the cinderblocks should be six inches below the earth's surface. Put floor planks above the cinderblocks at a slight angle so water can drain.

Now you need to build walls. Build a skeletal wall with eight to ten 2x4s. They should each go about a foot into the ground. Make a note of the when picking out lumber. These stout planks will be the support for you walls. Reinforce them with concrete if necessary. Use wood sheets for walls.

Now build another wall on the inside of your first wall. There should be some space between the two walls. Fill this space with sawdust or straw.

Remember to build a hatch to retrieve and load ice. The hatch door should be as thick as both walls combined. Use the hinges to mount the hatch door. Nail a handle on the hatch.

Cut up an old tire. Put rubber strips where the hatch meets the frame in order to make the hatch door snug. This will add insulation.

Put a roof on top of the ice shanty. Slant the roof to the north. Insulate the roof by putting recycled shingles on it. Once you've shingled the roof, paint it white. This reflects heat and reduces climate change.

Now fill the floor of the ice house with sawdust or straw. The sawdust or straw should be about fifteen inches deep.

All that's left is the ice. You'll have to harvest that yourself.