So you’ve thought of starting an ice cream cart business. It’s an amazing investment, I must say. With the high returns and profit margin, you can expect to generate good revenue with your ice cream cart. But, the question arises: how do you keep the ice cream carts cold, hmm?
The most popular method amongst ice cream cart owners is to use dry ice to keep the ice creams cold. This method works because when dry ice melts it dissipates into the air instead of turning into water, which is why it keeps treats cold for a longer time.
There are some other methods, too, which ice cream cart owners employ to keep the ice creams cold, and I’ll shortly discuss them in detail.
Why Doesn’t Ice Cream Stay Cool In a Regular Freezer?
Ice cream is meant to be kept at -15°F (-26°C). This is the temperature where it’s perfect to eat and isn’t crusty or rocky. When the freezer’s temperature is set too low, the ice cream will turn rock hard, and if it is set above -15°F, it will turn runny. With a few tweaks, the temperature can be managed.
One of the reasons this happens is that the freezer has a fault or it has been left open for some time for the warm air to pass through it.
The freezer vent also needs to work properly for the air to pass through it, and to let the ice cream freeze. If there’s a blockage, the ice cream will melt, eventually.
» Maybe this also could be of interest to you: What Is an Ice Cream Cart Business, and How Does It Work?
5 Alternative Ways To Keep Ice Cream Carts Cool
There are plenty of ways to keep ice cream carts cool and summer treats chilly. Here, I will walk you through five ways ice cream carts can be kept cold:
#1 Dry Ice
You’ve probably heard of dry ice at least once in your life. Aside from being used in experiments or to make dry ice cream, it can also be used to store and keep the said ice cream frozen.
Dry ice is pretty effective and plays its role in keeping things cold for a long time. Since it’s below freezing levels, this means that its freezing point is high enough to keep ice cream frozen for a long time and thus channel its cool air into its surroundings.
How Is Dry Ice Used to Keep Ice Cream Carts Cold?
The ice cream carts are lined with cold plates and dry ice is placed all around it. Since dry is not frozen water, and is carbon dioxide, it doesn’t melt into water but dissipates in air, leaving the surrounding cold.
Carts can also be lined with cold plates, and the entire area is perfectly sealed. This often does help in keeping ice cream cold but if it doesn’t, dry ice always gets the job done.
Why Is Dry Ice Used To Keep Ice Cream Carts Cold?
This goes without saying that dry ice is a very effective refrigerant. Dry ice is roughly around -109.3° F which is so cold that direct contact can burn you. This is how it manages to keep your treats cool and ensures it is kept that way for the whole day.
Dry ice is also a solidified form of carbon dioxide so, by the end of the day, you’ll be spared from the sloshing of melted ice water in your cart.
The only downside to dry ice is that you cannot keep reusing it. This might add to your usual expenses but trust me it’s worth it.
As I mentioned, the temperature of dry ice goes well below direct contact. At this stage, dry ice is so cold it’s dangerous and can give a lot more than frostbite. This is why it’s highly important to wear gloves at all times when handling dry ice.
Also, when storing dry ice make sure that you keep it in a ventilated area with lots of air and place it in a container, not directly inside the storage area.
#2 Cold Plates
Secondly, if you end up finding dry ice a bit too overpriced after a while and would much rather have a one-time thing, then try cold plates instead.
These slabs of cold goodness guarantee to give you long-term cooling effects and it’s just a one-time investment. With a cold plate, you can expect to have your ice cream cold easily for up to 9-12 hours.
It keeps ice cream cool even when the outside temperature is 90° F. Usually, these plates have a layer of insulation and have oversized compressors so you can sell ice cream during the day and not need a generator.
#3 Insulated Cooler
The better your cooler the better it’ll keep your stuff cold. If you want a hassle-free way to keep your ice cream cold then invest in a good rating insulated cooler.
High-quality insulated coolers have extra layers of insulation between the containerboard so it can keep your treats cooler for a long time.
Not only are these containers easily found online on Amazon or at stores, but they’re easy to manage as well. You don’t need to worry about containers making a mess or splashing water everywhere. They’re a nice way to store your ice cream.
» Read my blog post about: Here’s What Kind of Trucks, Ice Cream Trucks Use
#4 Add Salt to Ice
You’ve probably heard of this one; adding salt to your ice can help keep it stay cooler for longer. The downside of using salt on your ice is that it does cause melting so by the end of the day, your cart freezer will be wet.
For this, just make sure to line your cart with an insulator and then go ahead with the procedure. Salt causes ice to melt and makes the heat rise upwards.
Therefore, you should place your ice cream at the lowest possible level; this way all heat emitted will go upwards and only the cooling effect will stay in contact with the ice cream.
Then just add some more ice and salt on top and you can easily store it for hours.
#5 Pre-Chilled Vacuum Container
Lastly, a pre-chilled vacuum container is also a great tool. This can be used on its own or have dry ice or salt ice poured on top for extra coolness.
Pre-chilled containers are fairly big and can easily store pint-size ice cream servings. Or, if you plan on selling popsicles those can fit in, too.
Cool your vacuum container overnight in your house freezer and then, when you come in to run your cart in the morning, take the containers with you.
Place the ice cream in the vacuum containers and get ready to sell some ice cream.
Final Thoughts on How to Keep Ice Cream Carts Cold
Keeping ice cream cool for long periods can get pretty difficult when it’s hot. Take extreme summers for example, when our car’s air conditioning can’t keep us cool, how can a mere ice pack keep the ice cream cold?
Then, there’s also the effect of bulk warmth. Since you’ll be keeping more amounts of ice cream in place they individually need more cooling. Sometimes this isn’t enough with just a mere ice pack.
But hey, it’s not like your choices are limited. There are a lot of cheap and uncomplicated methods to keep your ice cream cold. You just need to find your pick. The methods I’ve mentioned in the article are both simple and cheap!