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Friday, 2 September 2016

How to remove ice build up from the freezer

Today, I finally did it.

I managed to remove two bags of ice cubes, and about 2 inches of ice which had buried the said two bags of ice cubes, from my little fridge. 

Just to clarify, it's my office fridge. Not my house fridge. My office fridge is small, about 4 feet high. It has a little freezer which is just about the right size for you to put two bags of ice cubes.

Freezers can sometimes have ice build up. That makes it tough to remove things which have been kept in the freezer.

It Began With A Party.

It started so innocently. At the early part of the year, I held a little party for friends and family. There was food, cooked by my mum and my aunts, and one or two of their faithful friends. There were bottled drinks, fizzy and sweet. And there were guests. Naturally, many of them wanted their drinks cold, so that's when my friend volunteered to go over to 7-Eleven and buy a few bags of ice cubes.

We opened some of the bags, maybe two or three, and threw the ice cubes into a bucket where people could help themselves. You know, by taking a few pieces of ice and popping them into their cups. Meanwhile, to save themselves from trouble, they had two bags of ice cubes which they stored in the freezer. 

The party went great. But we forgot about the two bags of ice cubes.

Long Forgotten Things In The Freezer.

About two months later, I had some reason to use the fridge. So when I peeked into the freezer, I was shocked to see that ice had built up around the two bags. The ice made it difficult to remove the bags of ice.

I don't often use the fridge, but we do use it from time to time. We keep slices of cake in there when we can't finish them. Some drinks go in there too.

I thought that we would get them out another day. I closed the door.

My First Attempt

About a month ago, I decided to try getting the ice out. I turned off the fridge for about two hours. I left the fridge door open.

There is a basin underneath the freezer. Ice began to melt. Bits of ice fell from the ceiling of the freezer. Some other bits became dislodged from the sides. Water started melting and there was a dripping sound under the freezer. It was water, flowing slowly into the basin.

Drip, drip, drip.

But the two bags of ice cubes remained stuck in one or two inches of ice. 

It was late, so I turned the fridge on again, and left the office. I was afraid that all the ice would melt if I left the electricity off. Then my office would be flooded. Too much hassle.

My Second Attempt

This evening, I made my second attempt. As you might guess, it was a successful effort.

First, I turned off the fridge. 

Next, I opened the door of the fridge, and the door of the freezer as well. (The freezer is within the fridge.)

After that, I waited for a while. The ice didn't melt as fast as I needed it to, so I thought of coaxing it along.

I then decided to try using the warm water from the flask that was sitting on the kitchen counter. I poured out about 1cm of warm water into a cup, and poured it in the middle of the two bags of ice.

There was some success! I could hear the ice thawing. Ice had a creaking sound, when it starts to melt. 

I went and boiled a whole jug of water. Then I took the smallest cup that I could find (it was the cover of the flask) and poured 1cm - 2cm of hot water on the ice. 

At first, I only poured it between the bags, and I found that the ice which had built up around the two bags were not melting quickly. So I began pouring some hot water directly on the ice build up, slowly. It began thawing quickly.

But the two bags of ice were not showing any effects, despite my best efforts.

I took a pair of scissors and cut open the upward-facing portion of the two bags (which had ice cubes in them). I also made little holes at the bottom of each bag. 

Then I began using the same approach: Filling the cup with about 1cm - 2cm of hot water, and pouring it directly into the bags, on the ice. The hot water scalded the ice, and the ice, which had been big blocks, began to break up from the middle. The hot water slowly filled up the bags, and even more slowly, trickled out of the bottom of the bags through the little holes that I had made.

Eventually, the ice within the bags broke and I could remove them.

And the ice that surrounded the bags also broke, and I could remove them.

And suddenly, the ice that had built up on the sides and the top of the freezer also broke off. They, too, had melted. The vise-like grip of the ice on the walls of the freezer came loose. 

I took the whole lot of ice and chucked it into the sink and the toilet. 

But the bottom of the freezer had a layer of ice, about 1.5cm thick, which had not come loose. I closed the freezer door, and the fridge door, and did not turn on the electricity.

Instead, I decided to let the ice melt slowly, where it would fall into the basin below the freezer. It would all become water.

The ice in the toilet. It should all melt tonight.

What I Learned From This Experience.

It was great. I think that I did not succeed the last attempt, but it certainly prepared me for this round. I learned a few things from the last attempt. I did not fail, I merely learned how not to do it. (Sounds like Thomas Edison? I'm inspired by him.)

First, I learned that ice in a freezer thaws too slowly. If you've only turned off the electricity, it means that it's still quite cool in the freezer. It'll take some time.

Second, I learned that if you do not remove all the ice, and turn on the fridge, the ice will build up again in the freezer, and the challenge will be just as tough.

Third, I learned that warm water can melt ice, and hot water (applied in small amounts) can help melt ice faster.

Fourth, ice was water, and hot water is definitely water. I learned that you can use something to get rid of itself. It's like using fire against fire.

Fifth, I learned that if I hadn't cut open the bags, it wouldn't have worked. You've sometimes got to cut to the heart of the matter, otherwise your weapon of choice won't work.

Sixth, I learned that when you've minimized your risk (I removed all the ice from the fridge) you can probably accept the risk safely (I allowed the ice below the freezer to melt overnight).

Seventh, I was damned lucky that it was only ice. I remember (now, as I write this) that my mum's freezer had fish and meat that was engulfed under the ice. It was a real hassle trying to get the meat out of the clutches of the ice. And you certainly won't be able to use hot water -- the meat would get cooked.

Thanks for reading.