Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Afterlife of an Ice Block

Being off grid in the desert, with no access to city water or unlimited electricity, we have to come up with ways to stretch out the lifespan of our resources. 
I have been keeping my food refrigerated with an ice box. It is actually a broken mini fridge that I keep cold by replacing a block of ice every few days. This is easy in the winter. I just stick a tub of water outside on a freezing night, let it freeze, and then switch it out with the melting block inside the ice box. It is rare that I have to purchase ice in the winter months.

Now that we are getting into the warm months, I have to buy a block of ice every few days. Luckily, the Grub Shack down the road sells blocks of ice. It is a nice 7 mile round trip bike ride, and I can strap my cooler to the back of my bicycle to keep the block from melting in the hot desert sun. I can also get a Trevor sandwich while I am there (the veggie version of their breakfast sandwich, but with grilled onions instead of bacon).

During the hot months, switching out the blocks every couple of days, I can rack up an ice bill of about $50 in a month. And so I don't want anything to go to waste. 

When the ice melts, I am left with over a gallon of potable water. This is enough to wash dishes with. I then use the used dish water to water my plum tree. It gets some extra nitrogen from the soap and extra nutrition from the organic materials in the grey water. The plum tree is supposed to get 5 gallons a week and the used dishwater seems to suffice. 

I then use the bag from the ice as a little trash bag for whatever household waste can't be recycled. Since we don't have trash collection, I take a little bag or two with me when I make a trip to town and make a tiny contribution to the trash collection of a business that I patronize. 

This is not the ideal or most economic system, but a good way to get started  without a refrigerator. Soon, my ice box, which used to be a refrigerator, will become a pantry, once my new highly efficient DC powered refrigerator arrives in several days. I just placed the order. 


Dani said...


Love your 100% use of your ice block - now that is efficient!

And the final recycling of th bag from the ice - you're my kind of people :-)


frann said...

Congrats on the new fridge. Do you know there is a recycle center. It is just east of Kathy's Kosmic..A pick-up with a trailer parked back there. They take tin, #1 & 2 plastic, aluminum and cardboard.

trevor.reichman said...

Thanks Dani.

Frann, yes. I am one of the volunteers for the Terlingua recycling program. If you ever want to help out, we are always looking for more help and it is usually pretty fun.

Michelle Lambton said...

You are a Plum rancher! And a plum-wonderful couchsurfing host, loking forward to our trek to mexico tomorrow!