How to Build an Ice House

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Before the advent of the modern refrigerator, there were ice houses. Although many would assume them obsolete, these structures remain popular as a means of efficiently storing large amounts of ice. While the construction requires some hard work, the benefits of a well-built ice house can be reaped year-round.

Things You'll Need

  • Shaded location
  • Wooden planks, 2 ft. X 4 ft.
  • Concrete base and footings
  • Insulation
  • Sawdust, shavings, rock wool or tanbark
  • Drain
  • Decide on dimensions. How much ice are you hoping to store? An average family consumes 500 cubic feet (roughly 10 tons) of ice each year, demanding an ice house measuring at least 12 x 10 x 8 ft. from along the inside walls.

  • Choose your location. Make sure the ice house is built in a spot that is shaded year-round. Place it under a tree or on the north side of a hill.

  • Set 6- to 12-inch footings that reach beneath the frost line and line the desired boundaries of your ice house.

  • Install a concrete or wooden floor on the footings. You will have to place a drain in one of the corners. Slant the surface down toward the corner in which you will place the drain.

  • Construct the inner framework of the ice house. This should be a solid rectangular structure made of 2 x 4 ft. planks measured to fit about one foot from the walls and ceiling of the planned outer structure.

  • Frame a door from your inner structure, facing the north side. Install the drain at the place of the declined corner.

  • Construct the plank walls and ceiling of your outer structure. The outer structure's walls should be about a foot from the outer surface of the inner structure, and the roof should be about 18 inches. Frame a door out of the structure's northerly side.

  • Fill the space between your outer and inner structures with sawdust, shavings, rock wool or tanbark. Pack about 12 inches of insulation on top of the inner structure.

  • Set and latch the inside and outside doors. Your ice house is ready for ice.

  • Fill your ice house with large cakes of ice, either store-bought or collected from a freshly frozen lake, and then cut them into strips by handsaw and divide into blocks by ice axe, crowbar or chisel. Insulate each individual block with sawdust and keep the lot of them 6 to 12 inches from the inner walls, floor and ceiling of your inner structure.

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