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Building an In-Ground Cooler

Cynda LeTullierAs this is my first blog post, let me introduce myself. I am Cynda, and my husband is Frank. We live out in the Alaskan wilderness. The Alaskans call it “The Bush.” We moved to our property June 1, 2014. After four years of searching for the right place and two years of planning and preparing, we were finally home.

While living under a tarp draped over a rope for two months, we cleared land and built the first room (12-by-16) of our homestead. The first week of bush living we knew we needed a refrigerator, but without electricity and out in the middle of nowhere that was not an option. Frank decided to dig a hole in the ground and place the eggs and other food items that needed to stay cool in it and see if it would be cool enough to work as a cooler. BINGO! The “in-ground cooler” was a success. So now it was time to make it permanent. 

The cooler must not be insulated from the ground’s coolness for it to work, so Frank decided to build it out of corrugated metal and insulate the cover with Styrofoam. Frank built shelf boxes for the top so it could easily be accessed to retrieve the daily-used items. He also made the cooler deep enough to store bulk items below the shelf boxes. 

In Ground Cooler Closed
The in-ground cooler with the lid closed. 

In Ground Cooler Opened
The in-ground cooler with the lid open.

By placing a thermometer in the large compartment below, we could monitor and make sure it was staying a safe temperature. To our amazement the temperature was so constant it did not vary more than 2 degrees in the complete 24 hour day, even during the hot days. The temperature was a constant 45 to 47 degrees F.

Cooler Thermometer
The thermometer in the in-ground cooler allows for monitoring the food temps.

Although Frank used corrugated metal to make our in-ground cooler, a rock-lined in-ground cooler would also be efficient though you would still need a well-insulated cover.

Well, I am delighted to have this chance to share bush living experiences with you.

My next post will be on how we made lumber from our own trees.