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Block vs. Cubed Ice - Which is better for my cooler?

August 23, 2018

Continuing our experiments in the Canyon Ice Academy, we wanted to test the difference in melt rates between blocks of ice and ice cubes. Again, we're in the middle of a cold Flagstaff winter, so not much demand is being placed on the cooler to keep the ice intact, but over time it did melt, and this is about the difference in how ice in each cooler melted.

We started with two Outfitter 35QT Coolers, and fit two 10 lbs blocks in the one, filling all extra space in the ice chest with cubes. We filled the next cooler to the brim with cubes alone. Throughout the test, we opened each cooler once a day for approximately 5 minutes to check the progress.

After 18 days, the following image shows the result.

Cubes remaining vs. Blocks remaining

The blocks are more intact than the cubed ice alone. What interested us, however, is the different water levels in each cooler. The cooler with the blocks level is noticeably higher than the cubed cooler. Block ice lasts longer because there's more actual ice, with less air void surrounding the cubes. The melt rate was similar between the two, but there was more actual frozen water in the cooler with the blocks.

For the next test in the Ice Academy, we'll be looking at the effects of draining meltwater from your coolers - one we feel has real-world implications.

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