I'm Going To Make A Zeer Fridge

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  • Has anyone heard of them? Does anyone have one or use one?


    I've completed extensive research and am really looking forward to using one, they seem fantastic, very eco friendly, and should be pretty darned efficient in the UK environment as you can achieve 20 degree below outside temperature ... which means pretty darned cool in this country and should keep many vegetables and what not alive for weeks.


    They use them in places like Africa where food spoils within a day an they have no electricity for modern fridges.


  • I used a simplified 'dry' version in my old truck.
    Basically I used terracotta pots but instead of lining them with sand and water, I lined with bubble wrap and stored under the bed where it was always cooler. Works well for keeping milk cool and veg fresh.

  • Many years ago you used to be able to get what was called a norwegian fridge.Basically it was an army field fridge that worked on the same water evaporation principle.They were improvised from ammunition boxes originally which were later redesigned.There was a steel box that sat inside a larger outer steel box.The inner box was wrapped in cotton wadding.The outer box was drilled with holes and the inner box was held in place with bolts to ensure an air space between the cotton wadding and the outer box.The outer box had an insulated door with a catch.The fridge had a funnel that was inserted in the top and periodically you poured a pint of water into it ,which soaked into the cotton wadding.The evaporation of the water from the wadding cooled the interior box by about 15° c of the ambient temperature so in temperate climates was enough to keep dairy products and meat around 5°C.So long as you had water available they worked well but went rusty and cotton often went mildewed....theyre simple and worked though.
    The military use proper militarised fridges and coolers now and ive not seen one of these field fridges for some time.


    You can use the same principle to keep beer or wine cool if you have a large steel box (ammo box) or old ceramic crock or belfast sink and place in shade, cover completely in a bath sheet and keep it damp.


    The temperature of the ground below 6 inches or more in the UK is normally around 5°C so if youre staying around a locality some time and you happen to have a smallish milk churn or similar its worth digging a hole and almost burying it.Just leave the top and lid exposed which you cover with straw or wood.The inside of the churn will stay cool enough for keeping food in that requires to be stored at fridge temp.

  • If you use an unglazed terracotta pot full of water you will get a cooling effect. The water soaks through the walls of the pot and is then evaporated by the sun and wind. This cools the pot and the wzter inside. Put whatever you want to keep cool in the water.

  • If you use an unglazed terracotta pot full of water you will get a cooling effect. The water soaks through the walls of the pot and is then evaporated by the sun and wind. This cools the pot and the wzter inside. Put whatever you want to keep cool in the water.


    Not a new idea. You'll see huge terracotta pots on stands all over Cairo. In baking heat, they are full of cool water.

  • Not a new idea. You'll see huge terracotta pots on stands all over Cairo. In baking heat, they are full of cool water.


    Yes i saw it explained in a documentary about old Egyptian technology a while ago. Its basically what the op is going to make minus the sand and the outer pot. I would imagine that it gives a greater cooling effect though, but can see how storing some foods in it would be a problem.
    Beer on the other hand would be easy to cool!

  • Some great tips here because I have been pondering to myself as to whether a metal version would work pretty much as well. I think I'm concerned about space and I feel with the thinner walls of metal I can create a smaller unit. I might give it a go with metal first and see how it works.

  • Some great tips here because I have been pondering to myself as to whether a metal version would work pretty much as well. I think I'm concerned about space and I feel with the thinner walls of metal I can create a smaller unit. I might give it a go with metal first and see how it works.


    Thicker plate steel is better for maintaining a low temperature,unfortunately its very heavy.It might be easier to buy a large ex military ordnance box and adapt as they are heavy duty but a manageable weight...theyre also pretty cheap from ex military stores.I have one i use as a spare cold box.Ive actually got a thick slate in the bottom as it retains the cold well.

  • I'll do a search for ex military stores. There used to be more of them back in the day but I haven't seen one in casual passing for a good 20 years I'm sure. I can probably find it online if I can't find a walk in store ... definitely given me a good base for what to look for.


    I have some galvanised boxes in my kitchen that I store things in that I was thinking of using as a base, but I'm not sure if they are steel or aluminium, I'll ask my partner, he's a metal/gear head, he will know what the metal is.


    I was going to try the following ... metal outer and create my own rectangular inner shell out of clay, so that I have a porous inner (so the inner is evaporating also), and see what temperatures I achieve with that set up.


    Thanks.

  • A cheap and cheerful cooler is just an old ammo box stood on a couple of bricks in the shade, to catch the breeze, with your cool stuff (veg, frozen stuff, milk, whatever) inside, and a big wet thick old towel or wedge of wet rags laid completely over it. As the water in the towel evaporates it draws the heat out of the ammo box, and the stuff in there will be up to 10 degrees cooler than the ambient temperature outside, depending on the humidity of the immediate environment. If it's a hot dry day and the water evaps quick, the temp in the box goes down more. But if it's a damp humid day, the towel stays wet much longer, and the temp in the box is only a couple of degrees lower than outside. If it's a hot dry day and the towel dries quicker, you have to keep it wet, of course. We shall probably have something like this at the Dovedale Gathering, if it's nice and warm....


  • Ex military stores are usually large warehouses these days..theres one near where i am near leicester,theres several in London.Most of them sell on ebay just search for ammo boxes.Theres also other suitable boxes like flight crates for stuff like tv/ studio equipment.Youll also find ready made steel boxes on ebay too if you search for them.
    If you plan to put a porous clay inner liner then obviously youll need to have holes in the outer box or the water wont evaporate from the clay properly,it will just be trapped inside the box...im sure youve thought of that.Be interesting to know how it works out.Ive only ever used clay urns,not used clay in the way you are.

  • With evaporation fridges, it's best if you have as many places to evaporate from as possible and therefore I would not operate it with a lid on.


    So the box would be lidless, and a damp towel placed on top, this means that everything inside it, including the clay, can evaporate.


    The downside with steel is that you aren't going to get evaporation from the metal, but given reports of achieving a good temperature reduction regardless of that (from the damp articles next to the metal), I will probably give it a whirl and see what I can achieve. If it's not good enough I'll stick to all clay, as with clay literally everything can evaporate around the food. Given we aren't prone to high heats in the UK anyway, I should imagine that metal and clay combined is probably sufficient for storage of many foods outside of meat. I'm a veggie anyway, so no problem for me, lol.

  • Have you tried Cravendale milk? The one with the silly tv advertising campaigns. It also has a silly website.
    But the milk is good, tastes creamy, and does keep much longer, so we always use it when camping, if it's available.

  • What sort of milk do you use? I used to love full fat milk but my missus used skimmed when i got with her. It was horrible i thought when i first had it but you get used to the taste. I only have it in tea and tescos ready brek copy oats so not a big milk drinker.
    Get it from aldi, seems to last well unrefrigerated...

  • I do find long life sterilised milk lasts a bit longer, but it's mostly me having coffee in the morning so have switched to dried milk till it goes cooler. Better that than chucking away half a L of semi skimmed milk every couple of days.