Thursday, July 28, 2011

Emergency Blanket Experiment...

   Hi friendly readers, long time no see!
   Hope that some of you are still around - I'll try to get some posts up again and see if I can't get back into the swing of things.
   Anyway, this summer so far has sure been full of great camping trips!  Everything has been awesome, both with friends, family, and friends and family - and, as always, I like to assess what worked, and what didn't, after each trip.
   Lately we have been camping quite a bit with my parents, who have the luxury of a tent trailer, and one of the real nice features, is the small propane/electric fridge.  It does a great job of keeping the really critical items cold, but, sadly, beer is never considered one of the critical items.
   This last trip, I tried freezing about 4 litres of water and packing it in with my already cold beer, but, from Friday midmorning to Sunday night (when the beer finally ran out), the ice too ran out, and the beer was at best, optimistically able to be called "cool".
   I had been inquiring with my brother about his "5 day" cooler which claims to keep ice for up to 5 days.  He said that was stretching it, but that it did work better than an average cooler.  Rather than plunk down the big bucks that would be required to purchase one of these monsters, I decided to see if I could punch up the performance of my own coolers a little bit.  Of course, an emergency blanket can keep you warm, but I figured that it was just a mechanism for slowing down the movement of heat, and, as such, it should also help to keep things cool.  Just how cool, that was where I decided to do a little bit of experimenting...
   First off, I froze two 650mL yogurt containers of water.
 Mmmm, red hots!


   Then, one gets wrapped in a single layer of my emergency blanket, with the extra blanket simply rolled up on top.  The other was just in the container, and then both were placed in the cooler. 
   I'm not sure what my son was thinking, and the "I love you" hands were a really funny and pleasant surprise.  Where do they learn these things?
   By the end of the first day, you can see the difference in how much the two containers have melted.  No blanket had lost 300mL of ice to melting, while the blanket was more like 100mL.
   The next day, you can see that no blanket was completely melted, while blanket still had a fair size chunk of ice left.
  I didn't bother measuring mostly because I was lazy, and felt I had already established the power of the emergency blanket.

   Finally, tonight, the ice was completely melted.  I checked the temperature of the meltwater, and it was 10 degrees C - a few degrees more than my fridge.  If I could keep my beer at that temperature for a day and a half, that would still be a real step up!
   Anyway, I have to say I don't understand why all cooler manufacturers don't already include a liner of this stuff between the inner compartment, and the insulation of the cooler - it would cost a pittance, and easily double the R value of the cooler itself!  Or, maybe this is the miracle breakthrough of the five day cooler...  For further thought would be buying two of the cheap styrofoam coolers and nesting them, with an emergency blanket in between.
   In the meantime, I'll certainly be packing one in my cooler all the time now, as they are easily large enough to cover the bottom, sides, and then fold over the top - I'll let you know if I come up with any other thoughts to add to this!
   Let me know what you think in the comments, or if you have any other ideas on the subject!