It’s happened: Armageddon has come and gone, the dust has settled, and you and your band are among the survivors. The time has come to start digging in and rebuilding. Sure, it won’t be easy, and spending half your days fighting off raiders or packs of newly feral cats really eats up your time. Luckily, former county lineman Mitch had stocked his basement to the rafters with some local IPAs, so there is always something to look forward to. If only you didn’t have to drink them warm.
Then that crazy, wild-eyed kid who flunked out of MIT tells you that you don’t.
“What if I told you,” he starts in, his halitosis pushing you back like a force of nature, “what if I told you we could cool these brewskies down? Get them cold? Like ICE?”
“That’s great, Sam,” you indulge him. He might be off his rocker, but he’s family, now. “And how would you do that without electricity?”
The next day he hands you a bottle and you nearly drop it in shock. It’s cold alright. Like ICE. “How?” you manage to mumble around the bottle already in your mouth.
He leans in close, and you forget to pull away, as he whispers, “ZEER!”
Granted, keeping meat from spoiling may just barely take priority over keeping your Shiner chilled, but either way you can use the power of evaporation to drop temperature in a controlled environment using what is known as a “zeer pot.” And all you need to do it is a couple of nesting clay pots, some sand, water, and a towel.
The short and skinny: put a layer of sand in the bottom of the larger pot, place the smaller pot inside in the center, fill in the gaps with sand, pour water over the sand, and cover the whole shebang with a wet towel.
Put what you want to chill in the smaller pot and let time pass. As the water evaporates, the temperature inside the zeer pot will drop, staying lower than the ambient temperature outside.
Some additional info (including a few caveats):
- While in my example above the temp drops to “like ICE,” in real life a zeer pot wouldn’t get that cold. It will, however, help preserve food longer than without refrigeration, and cool down your drinks to make consumption more enjoyable.
- Zeer pots, or “pot-in-pot refrigeration”, require low humidity to work well. Desert conditions with already-cool temperatures is the best combination.
- If the containers are well…contained…so that no liquid seeps into the inner pot, then non-drinkable liquids (seawater, for example) could be used to do the job of cooling.
Some additional sources for you scholars and experimenters out there:
Photo by dpstyles™ at Flickr