Keeping Ice on fishing trips

Chasing a little info from the forum on  keeping ice whilst on extended fishing trips where Ice is hard to come by or make.


I've done a bit of reading on the use of dry ice, and how this can be used to extend the life of normal ice. From what I've read this is done by covering the bottom of the esky with dry ice sheets, then putting a thin insulating barrier of alfoil over the dry ice and placing block ice on top. The key is apparently you cannot have any real areas of 'air' inside the esky, so if you remove a block of ice it needs to be replaced with scrunched up news paper or somethnig of the like. Also cover the esky with a insulation blacket of some sort. The main esky is purely ice storage only


Has anyone tried this process? Did a trip for a few days last year, and really struggled with ice up the north, even with fairly large blocks.


Interested to hear what other do


sammy85's picture

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Sounds like your on the right

Sun, 2019-01-13 10:01

Sounds like your on the right path. I always cool down ice boxes with a few bags before loading with trip ice  


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 I was at boc once when

Sun, 2019-01-13 10:29

 I was at boc once when someone was buying dry ice and it was their first time the bloke behind the counter had plenty of advice for him to help extend your ices life cooling the esky before buying the ice was definitely part of it and filling it . I think you order in advance and get all the info when ordering 


 rather be fishing

carnarvonite's picture

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Dry Ice

Sun, 2019-01-13 11:23

 If you are using dry ice wrap the blocks in newspaper otherwise it will burn the plactic lining of your ice box.

If you have freezer space, freezer salt water as it lasts longer than fresh water ice, pre cool your icebox  by adding ice to it a couple of days before you are planning to load up for your trip. Once the icebox is full run a line of duct tape around where the lid sits to prevent any warm air entering.

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If using normal block ice

Sun, 2019-01-13 12:26

If using normal block ice pack in tight, drain water daily as water will melt your ice quicker and good fibreglass eskies are better than the plastic ones and keep out of the eskie as much as possible and keep out of the sun.

little johnny's picture

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Used dry ice before

Sun, 2019-01-13 13:39

Damp beach towel over the top. Then couple of layers of carboard. Stuffed up gets to cold. Semi freezers fish

Bodie's picture

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So should probably clarify,

Sun, 2019-01-13 13:52

So should probably clarify, What im thinking is run one single large esky for all 'stored' ice whilst away, and just remove block ice as required into a 2nd esky. Primary purpose of ice is for drinks really, fish will be the last day or two only.


Little Johnny, did read people using it with fish can often freeze them, if not done correctly.

Purpose of dry Ice would be to only prolong life of block ice, no food, fish, drinks etc. I'm going to pick up a little dry ice and try in an esky on the back yard and see what the outcome is. Some people say up to 8 days of ice!

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Ran into some blokes at

Sun, 2019-01-13 17:11

Ran into some blokes at montes once that had just frozen half their beers. They were fairly unhappy about it.   


Does anyone know where the love of god goes, when the waves turn the minutes to hours?

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 We used salt flake ice for

Sun, 2019-01-13 14:53

 We used salt flake ice for our bait Esky on a recent trip up north and still had ice left after the 6 days despite the Esky being in the sun half the time


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Alan James's picture

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Hire an ice making machine?

Sun, 2019-01-13 17:16

Reading some of your posts of your trips north you always seem to have an organised group with several boats.  Perhaps hiring or purchasing an ice making machine isn't as silly as it first sounds.  Leave the kitchen sink behind but take the ice machine.   



Bodie's picture

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 we have taken an ice machine

Sun, 2019-01-13 20:52

 we have taken an ice machine up every year for the past 7 years :-) 


But this is slightly different, there is no power to run an ice machine and not the best place for it to be on a boat either!!

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I use 10 litre décor plastic

Mon, 2019-01-14 06:31

I use 10 litre décor plastic containers as the size fills the esky neatly . let them set for a few days then bag them up. make sure to remove from the bag before they go in esky as melted water in bag will melt the ice quicker and drain the excess water daily.

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 I dont agree with draining

Mon, 2019-01-14 11:43

 I dont agree with draining the water.......I reckon if you drain water from your esky, that volume or mass will be replaced with air, which unless your in Antarctica will be warmer than the water and therefore melt more ice. Taking something cold out of your esky and replaceing it with anything warmer doesnt sound right to me. Never tested it though.....

I make ice weeks before I go on a trip (seems a lot colder than the stuff you buy from most places which can be barely frozen)....always stack my eskys the day before I leave and drain and reload just before I go, so everything includeing the esky is as cold as possible before loading with fresh ice.

The ice to drinks ratio is most important (more ice the better) and solid ice obviously better too.

Next thing I do is have good eskys with covers Ive made out of bubble foil insulation like Kingspan on something similar, taped together with sisolation tape (lasts for years if you look after them) and only open it once a day! Get up in the morning and if possible decant what you need for the day into a nother esky, tape the lid shut, close the cover and keep in the shade.

Another thing I mucked around with years ago was an old fridge layed on its back.....I fibreglassed the inside after it cracked to pieces after a rough trip and put a drian tap in it.........I put a one way flapper valve between the freezer compartment and fridge and filled the freezer with block dry ice wrapped in news paper and filled the gaps with pellets. Used the fridge side as normal. The theory was.....when you opened the fridge to get a drink and closed it again it would be filled with hot air which should then be pushed out by the cold air coming off the dry ice through the flapper valve.......cant say I tested it too many times to say how much better it worked in comparrisson, but wee definately didnt run short of cold drinks while using it. 

It would probably be worth a go with keeping you ice rather than just drinks longer too.......test whats colder, the ice water in your esky or the air space around dry ice when enclosed and possible use the dry ice to fill the air space as you drain the water off???......just a couple of ideas to play with.



davmor's picture

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 Your spot on with dont

Sat, 2019-01-19 04:44

 Your spot on with dont replace the cold water with hot air.Its all about the thermal mass, the more, the better. 

For minimal opening we would use a six pack esky. Take six beers out in one hit. Your opening your ice box every two hours instead of every twenty minutes

ChrisG's picture

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Definitely drain the melted

Mon, 2019-01-14 17:30

Definitely drain the melted water IMO

the ice will use more energy (melt) trying to cool water than it will trying to cool any air inside your esky (provided your esky is sealed).

doesnt take a science experiment to prove it either. Grab a two packets of frozen snags out of the freezer, put 1 on your bench top and put the other a bowl/sink of water (even use ice water if you want to get serious) - see which defrost first...think you’ll find the snags in the Water defrost first? Same same if you leave water in your esky....think you’ll find it melts the ice quicker than if you leave esky with just air in it.

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Draining the water has worked

Mon, 2019-01-14 18:28

Draining the water has worked for us up here in the Kimberley for the last twenty years I have been here. Have cocked up a few times and not drained the excess water and all it does is melt the ice quicker. Good quality eskies and solidly frozen ice are the key, and protect the ice from things rubbing on it by using some non skid rubber matting.

kamo king's picture

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Chill your esky first then

Tue, 2019-01-15 08:21

Chill your esky first then fill with Salt Ice then seal up will last 5-8days.

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Try plastic containers

Tue, 2019-01-15 11:17

We freeze drinking water in these flat water conatiners that my inlaws got from somewhere. They lay flat across the bottom of the esky or can stand between things too. Once we fill the pre-chilled esky we top off with crushed ice. When the bottles thaw they don't fill your esky with water and you can drink the water from the bottles. Works well.

hezzy's picture

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on our extended marroning

Tue, 2019-01-15 13:15

on our extended marroning /camping trips down on the blackwood back in the late 80s/90s ,8 of us would go for up to 6 days in usual day temps of around 32-38c to carry enough cold beer, port , baileys , food etc i got hold of two ex working chest freezers in the 500 litre capacity ....... we gutted all the components out of them .... and put them on the back of the landcruiser trays when we went strapped down , with lid latches fitted to keep them down tight as well on the road etc

to make our ice .. we boiled the water , then cooled it down and filled up 8 x 20 litre/kg large white nally fish lugs ..these where stacked on each other and went into the big 8 ton freezer for a week before hand to freeze down ...

our plan was always to put 3 solid 20kg blocks of ice into each freezer , with the other 2 blocks broken up in each freezer to fill in any smaller spaces around our drinks and frozen /fresh meat and bacon etc ..we also put the baskets into the top of each one , filled with tomatoes, cheese , lettuce, salami, hams , eggs marg , chocolate, bread , milk etc

we just left em on the tray back the whole time parked in shade as much as possible , the 8 of us ate and drank very well over the 5-6 day stay , ..we always ha dblock ice left when we got home ..and back then we never drained the ice water off as we had no tap to do so ,,,,,,, but she stayed cold as ....minimal opening during the day ,,only to make breaky , lunch or diner food items or grab beers /port etc

for us it was cheap , easy and worked ...... the ice seemed to last longer if water is boiled first ..removes oxygen from it and makes it last longer , melt slower ioe


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Lavs's picture

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I’ve done a few longer trips

Thu, 2019-01-17 22:21

I’ve done a few longer trips in the top-end with a mate who lives up there, and we were off the grid for 6-7 days. The trick is lots of big solid block ice (someone mentioned buckets - spot on and also chuck a bit of rope in them for handles too!). My mate uses a bunch of of those big blocks and also a heap of frozen 2Lt coke bottles which we used for drinking water as they defrosted.  The blocks barely melted over the 7 days. 


You gotta have a good quality icebox/eski though, none of that hollow-walled Willow shit from target. 

Ayamigo's picture

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Sat, 2019-01-19 07:29

 It's funny how most have come to the conclusion that draining the water is better. I'm not a physics expert but I think I remember this from high school. 

When ice melts it absorbs energy to change state to water. Once ice starts melting to water, the water stays at 0 degrees until every bit of ice is gone, then only after all the ice is gone the temperature starts rising. 

If you drain the water you will make the Esky colder for a period of time (given the warmer 0 degree water is gone and it leaves the colder ice behind) however the overall mass of your cold stuff is less, meaning there will be a quicker overall heat exchange.

The snagga experiment in ChrisGs post above would be a good one, the only difference is that you would need to use 0 degree water to compare rather than 22 degree tap water. 

My conclusion would be, if you want longevity don't drain. If you want it to be colder for a period of time, drain, but it won't last as long overall.


 Stop playin' with yourself, Hooper. Slow ahead, if you please.

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Get out of the classroom and

Sat, 2019-01-19 14:31

Get out of the classroom and try it in the real world. Tried both and draining and keeping the water in there .Draining wins hands down.