Monday, June 25, 2007

Thoughly Modern Millie

Below is the pic of my 1934 Ice Box.
Unsure of the maker at this time as I still need to run a patent search on it.
If you scroll down to a previous post you can see what shape it was in when I bought it on ebay.
After much scraping, scrubbing, sanding, & careful nail removal it has been upgraded & painted.

Originally it was that '30's cream & green but I decided to go with white enamelware edged in black that I have soo much of like the milk pitcher & small wash basin. Also I have a gray & pink '50's kitchen so green & cream won't work.
Directly in front is a recent antique store find a small square enamelware container with a glass lid. Yes, we have a microwave. Also a small freezer. Just couldn't see given the power company more biz than we have to.

The ice box has a clear plastic tube connected to the drain under the ice tray. This tube feeds directly into the same plumbing as my clothes washer so no need to empty a catch basin or mop the floor when it was forgotten.
The shinny stuff under the ice box is insulation. Since my original plan was to restore a vintage '50's Hotpoint fridge figured there was no need to worry about laying tile.
That rise in the floor is an elbow of a huge plumbing pipe. My 1902 home wasn't built with indoor (upstairs) facilities. Hence some things tend to stick out or take detours.

To answer every one's question here is what's inside of my ice box.
Clockwise; ice compartment which holds 75 lbs. of ice. Since I don't have freezer space enough to generate that amount pictured is about 32 lbs which lasts for 4 1/2 days.
Compartment below is referred to as the dairy section. It is the coldest @ 36 -38 degrees. Holds eggs, cheese, homemade ranch dressing, mayo & butter.
Left compartment is broken down into 3 zones.
Bottom left; milk, juices, yogurt, anything that needs to be cold but not dairy temperature cold. Generally holds around 40 - 42 degrees.
Next shelf up temp is 42 - 44 so this holds fresh veggies, anything will will be eaten soon.
Next shelf farther up hovers around 46 degrees so this is for things like bread, commerical foods, & apparently a pint of my canned salsa.
Ice boxes work on air flow. The warm air moving in this case clockwise hits the top of the ice block cools which makes it fall to the next section. As the air warms slightly it raises passing the milk & fruits, then hitting salads, finally passing over the bread on it's way back down to the ice block. Yes when you open the dairy compartment you can feel a cold chill hit you feet.
The ice box is really two galvanized boxes one inside the other. It has a pine wood frame with sawdust wrapped in brown paper to form squares. Squares were then fitted between the two boxes.
The insulation factor varies thru out the ice box. Top & sides have the most @ R50.
Bottom around R 30.
Doors are the least @ R 12 - 20.
Reason being is that you can only unbend galvanized metal soo far before it loose it's shape.
Since I have no desire to learn how to use a sheet metal brake & my Dh's honey do list books him up to the year 2020 I made do.
The insulation was that pink foam & that foil bubble wrap stuff layered.

Learning curve was two fold.
One - make sure new ice is being made as it takes about two days to freeze.
Two - take out the food item quickly and if not completely used then return it quickly so it doesn't have a chance to heat up.

Since we eat from our pantry the majority of the food I prepare was canned either commerial or home canned. So if we have say baked chicken (frozen), carrots (home canned), peas (frozen), mashed potatoes (root cellar), salad & dressings/butter ect. (ice box).
Generally we don't cook with an eye toward leftovers.

Oh yea the beer on occasion's sits in the with dairy.

~~ pelenaka ~~

5/6/2008 The ice box is stilling going strong. Currently it's out on our unheated enclosed porch to take advantage of the cold (now cooler) weather. I still have yet to locate & buy a proper rubber gasket for all 3 doors. The foam rubber weather stripping is on it's last leg.
Great link on Crosley

~~ pelenaka ~~


  1. Hi, I saw your post on the Homesteading-Suburbia yahoo list (I just read, I don't think I've participated beyond intially introducing myself). Anyway, you have a very cool blog. I enjoyed reading it and plan to be back to see how you're progressing with your urban farm (love the reason behind your blog/farm name) LOL!.


  2. Love it! great job on the re-do, and the description.

    I assume you make your ice in your freezer? have you figured out if that makes your freezer run less efficiently? that is, does your freezer work harder to make ice every day?

  3. Thank you, I'm pretty proud of it myself!
    On the question of putting an extra strain on my freezer - yes but not enough to equal running a fridge 24/7. When we make new ice blocks the cold water is added slowly a few inches at a time to the dishpans. Found that it freezes faster & hopfully less energy is used by this method.
    ~~ pelenaka ~~

  4. Hello. A friend sent me the link to your blog. I moved to upstate New York to homestead last year. I look forward to reading through it. Are you on HT by chance? I couldn't figure out how to email you, so thought I would just post. I do have a more personal question for you if there is anyway I can email it or you can email me at

  5. Welcome to the Empire State & congradulations on your aquiring your homestead!
    Expect an email shortly.

    ~~ pelenaka ~~

  6. Hi,
    I was glad to see someone actually still using an icebox! I'm writing a children's book that describes an icebox and the weekly iceman visits and I wanted to describe how big the blocks of ice typically were. I can't seem to find that online. You mentioned your compartment holding 75 lbs.of ice, but how big would a 75-lb. block be? The kids won't be able to picture the pounds, but they could get their heads around the inches. I was thinking 15x12x15 or something close to that. Just a good guess from someone who's had actual experience would be really great. Thanks!

  7. Good idea for a children's book. I'm not @ home (no WIFI access) so I'll have to get a measurement for you. I have never loaded it up with 75 lbs. of ice so I have no clue.
    Don't for get the ice card that was placed in a window. It usually had a circle design on a oh 10x10 heavy stock of white paper. The circle was devided up into pie slices which were different colors. One colr meant no ice needed today another was for 25 lbs or 50 lbs.
    From a distance the ice man knoew who needed ice without dismounting his ride. Which was usually horse drawn even in the 1920's.
    A neighbor fondly remembers the slivers of ice her ice man always gave her to suck on when he delivered ice. She was 6 then. 89 now.

  8. Nice details -- I can use these! And I finally found online that a cubic foot of water is around 62 lbs. So it would be close to that for ice. So using that as my standard, I guess most of the blocks were a little bit smaller than a foot cubed since you're saying that it was typical to get 25 or 50 lbs. All of this helps me be more accurate. Thanks!

  9. I just found your blog researching people who use ice boxes. I love it! We are off grid and getting rid of the refrigerator was mandatory. I also use an ice box but I cant seem to get the temperature lower than 50 degrees. I am wondering if it is the design of this small box. I have another ice box that more resembles the design of yours and I am wondering if that would be cooler. I have an unlimited resource of ice, since my husband owns an ice company, so I am determined to make this work. A solar fridge is just to outrageously priced. I just cant figure out why the temp wont get any cooler. Maybe it is the insulation?

    1. Sorry for the really late reply - WHen I replaced the insulation with modern materials there was a huge temperature difference.

  10. Good info on the ice box. I picked one up for my hunting cabin. I painted it red and its ready to go. How much Ice do I need to use? DO you think in your experience frozen milk jugs will work? I rather not mess around with a drip pan. Is it the actual ice that cools or the airflow thats gets cooled that keeps temps lower? I need to keep beer cold and a few meals we prepare ahead of time to pop in the oven. thanks

  11. Anonymous, I agree ditch the drip pan (but save it if it's the original) and either use a hose or a bucket even if you do go with the option of frozen milk jugs as they have a way of tipping over. As to amount it depends on the size of your ice compartment & just how full you keep the shelves, pack it good and keep a log for future reference.
    The ice cools the air which cools the food. If your putting in room temp items 1st place them on the ice for 10 minutes or so to pre-chill then place them on a shelf.
    I'd also consider throwing a few sleeping bags over the whole box if your not gonna replace the insulation. Make sure the gaskets are all tight.

  12. Dear Pelenaka,
    Boy is it hard to find info on how to use your icebox. i inherited a nice oak with brass Lapland Monitor from my father's estate. Currently my TV sits on it but I would REALLY like to use it.As I can still buy block ice around here, I cleaned it up and put the ice in and a thermoneter. It stayed about 50*. Since 2009 I have been unemployed and now am disabled. Antenna TV,compost bin, vegetable garden and clothes line are the order of the day. I am afraid to step off into the no frig thing.I really like the way the ice tea tastes with block ice chipped with the ice pick.Until his death my daddy kept block ice and an ice pic in the freezer. He said it tasted better.My email is

    1. Yes finding info on the actual use of an ice box is. I asked around my hood but everyone was either a child when their home had an ice box or all they could say was "just put the ice in & don't leave the door open".
      ? for you by monitor you mean there's a motor on top yes?

    2. Just found your blog - again. thanks for the reply. The brand name on the ice box is " Lapland Monitor". There is no motor. I am still disabled and have already sold the stove. I cook in my solar oven. Plenty of sun here in Texas. I am using the ice box. It does pretty good. I had to adjust my life some. But it is very cool and free. they were right. Put the ice in and leave the door shut. I don't eat dairy and never had anything in the freezer but ice anyway. :) Regards,

    3. Glad it's working for you it really is as easy ice & shut the door.

  13. Hi, there.

    I found this wonderful blogpost with great difficulty. It seems as if it's the only post on the Internet that talks about using the Icebox as it was originally intended to be used. Very interesting read; thank you for posting.

    One question: when you took out the old insulation, did you find that it had degraded, and no longer worked? If so, this explains why those people who've tried using an icebox failed.


Thanks, good to know there are other's with this interest