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Does anybody have a game plan for rare/refrigerated medication?

Hi everyone. I’m a long time lurker but a first time poster. In January I got diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and “failed” a couple of the first line treatments, so I have recently started a super-expensive, refrigerated, injectable medication. I’m not new to the chronic pain game; I had an experience similar to the one Ubique has described a few months back. I got mono in college, had a mysterious post-viral syndrome, developed some auto-immune stuff, including pre-clinical RA. Luckily, and nobody has been able to explain this to me, a lot of the symptoms went away after about two years. My experiences with health are part of the reason I got into emergency preparedness. 

Anyway, I’ve known since 2015 that I was going to eventually get full-blown RA, and now it’s here. Last year my shoulders got gradually stiffer, then it quickly moved to my hands, feet, ankles, knees… you name it, it hurt. It was aggressive, and debilitating. Thankfully I was still mostly working from home, so I didn’t have to take too much time off. Now, thanks to a medicine with a $15k/month sticker price (I pay $5 a month due to my income) I am back to normal. It feels good, and once again I feel pretty lucky. 

I used to feel powerful when I was able to keep living despite chronic pain, through a combination of rationing my energy and just keeping going, but RA is another beast. I couldn’t move the fingers on my right hand for all of April. I couldn’t do most daily life tasks without this medicine. I am getting my PhD in biological engineering, and making decentralized, disaster-resilient biopharmaceutical manufacturing tools is something I’m hoping to eventually tackle in my research. But for now… I’m doing a lot of yoga to build more strength and flexibility. I’m learning all I can about the disease and what people did before treatments existed (which mostly sounds like suffering). I have some great people in my life who took care of me during my flares earlier this year and would do it again. I can’t buy myself an emergency stock of this stuff, but I’m looking into stocking up on the other medicines I take (an NSAID and a more traditional RA med that just didn’t do enough). Do you or your loved ones rely on refrigerated medicine? What do your plans look like? 

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  • Comments (40)

    • 3

      I have two solar generators, quite a few full size solar panels & an ARB dc powered refrigerator freezer.  A solar generator can power the refrigerator/freezer for around 2 days without a recharge from a solar panel.

      solar

      ARB_Fridge

      • 2

        Hey Redneck, sounds great! Are there specific reasons you wanted to have a fridge/freezer set up, or were they just the next thing on your list? 

      • 2

        At the point I had my first solar generator and some solar panels, I gave thought to what I could use them for… besides the “normal” uses.  For me, having the ability to store fresh foods longer was at the top of the list.  These recreational, smallish refrigerator freezers use just a tiny amount of electric and don’t have those large startup amps associated with the big, regular ones.  My wife also has RA and has the meds that need to stay refrigerated.

    • 3

      I don’t have any medications that need to be refrigerated, but have thought about this topic before. One day I’ll probably be there where I’m needing to keep medication refrigerated. I think it is in the book One Second After where the main character’s daughter is on insulin or some medicine that needs to be kept cool. A part of the book is about them trying to keep it cool and stretching out the time that they have to use it. They eventually space out the medication days between when they are supposed to administer it just to keep her alive.

      From onesecondafter.com’s website: “Those of us dependent on medications to control asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other aliments which a hundred years ago would have killed us shortly after the onset. . .will now face death within days or weeks, unless the national power grid comes back on line quickly and order is restored.

      It is a hard truth that if there was a major disaster like an EMP which knocked out the power, a huge chunk of those medically unstable will be the first to die, and then those very unprepared and living paycheck to paycheck will be next. So good job for thinking about this beforehand and planning on how to extend the time you have. It doesn’t sound like you will die from not receiving your medication, but if you don’t manage that pain and your hands don’t work like you mentioned, it will make survival very miserable and difficult. Not to be grim, but realistic about possible scenarios.

      Redneck’s comment about the solar generator, panel, and 12 volt mini fridge is what I would do. You can get a 12 volt fridge for as little as $120 and with a battery bank and panel could run that indefinitely. A normal gas generator is another option, but the fuel is finite and requires more maintenance and brings noise with it.

      Have a backup plan though if your fridge system died or was fried in an EMP. A possible solution is a terra cotta fridge. It will probably extend the life of your medication much more than just keeping it at room temperature. Here is a video and a website talking about how to make one. If you are going to have this as part of your preps, buy the pots and sand now while you can.

      My last thought would be to buy a supply of instant cold packs. Very expensive and crude, but again better than nothing.

      I am glad that you can get your extremely expensive medication at such an affordable rate and have a sense of normalcy in your life again. Wish you the best of luck! I can’t even imagine how hard what you are going through must be.

      • 2

        Hey Supersonic! Funny you should bring up One Second After, because I definitely have thought a lot about that book recently. That and David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks, where another diabetic kid struggles after supply chains go down. Both books end with hand waiving about where drugs could come from (if I remember right, the military shows up in the nick of time with insulin in OSA, and the Icelandic navy does in the other). My #1 concern is supply more than keeping things cold myself. I can’t exactly buy up future stocks of this stuff at that price, and they come in Epi-Pen style auto injectors, so I don’t control dosage. I plan to just be vigilant about refills no matter what, but it feels like I could be doing more. Already I’m a couple weeks ahead because I had to pause taking it for the Covid vaccine. It doesn’t seem like something I’ll be able to stock up a year’s supply of — even if I could afford it, it comes from a specialty pharmacy. I wonder if this is something that could be addressed on a community level, or what the specialty pharmacy’s disaster plans are. Maybe something I could look into advocating for? This is making me confront how much I rely on other people. I guess I’m glad I’m learning now. 

        Luckily RA isn’t fatal in the short term, but it is disabling. Long term it causes organ damage, and untreated can take 10 years off your life, but people have lived with it for a long time. Some do okay, others are bedridden for decades. I am in an online support group and a lot of people in the group had it before modern treatments existed, or didn’t believe their doctors until it was too late. In that sense I am lucky. Thanks to all that info, the physical effects feel like something I can think about planning around. The most likely thing that could keep me from accessing my medicine isn’t an EMP, it’s getting on Medicare, which doesn’t pay for biologics. But as a 26 year old… that’s not an imminent threat unless I have to go on disability. 

        I like the 12 volt fridge idea, I’ll look into them. I do have ice packs and a cooler for short term power outages (which I’ve already had to use), some instant cold packs in my first aid kit (which I don’t think I’d ever use for this), and a tiny cigarette lighter/120V fridge that I sometimes use when I travel. Haven’t heard of terra cotta fridges, so thanks for the tip. 

        And honestly, yes it’s been taxing, but I’ve been able to see it coming for years. This feels like a structure test — a very real trial of how I will deal when something I rely on (in this case, my body) doesn’t work like I expect it to. In that sense I was totally ready, and am managing it well, which feels good. I would prefer not to be dealing with it, but you know, that’s true for most of the stuff we prepare for. 

    • 2

      Good morning Ride,

      First, as a new forum poster, Welcome.

      Yes, I have a game plan for refrigeration of RX pharma. My plan is on book shelf next to other collectables such as vehicle evacuations from Washington, D.C., some RAND Corp plans and other “funny” (gallows humor) plans.

      I’ve got the non RA arthritus from hand injuries in Army and aggrivated by aging process. It’s less about refrigeration under adverse conditions and much about getting prescriptions to best RX pharma. 

      Your PhD sound interesting and valuable.

      Sidebar;  There’s a new to the market snake bite anti-venom not requiring refrigeration.  Learned about it in my rsearch for this now shelved plan of mine. Again, it doesn’t need refrigeration but user needs buchu $$$.

      Keep up with the exercise  program.

      • 2

        Thanks Bob, and I totally agree that the focus is more on supply. My PhD is on vaccine design, but as a biological engineer with a chronic illness I could talk all day about resilient biopharmaceutical manufacturing systems. A cool paper I read recently was about how they’re trying to make livestock vaccines in plants like corn and alfalfa, so in theory you could just grow them from seed and feed them to your animals. They already manufacture some medicines in plants using virus vectors, but it requires a lot of lab equipment and specialized greenhouses to do. But eventually we might see corn that has the code for a swine vaccine in its genome, for example. Raises a lot of questions — like we’re seeing with Covid, pathogens mutate and vaccines need to be updated, so you probably wouldn’t have heirloom vaccine corn, and I doubt that drug companies would ever sell seed packets, even if it made our global food production systems more secure. And controlling quality/dosage would be huge issues. Still, it’s something I think about. 

        https://www.hindawi.com/journals/av/2015/936940/ 

    • 7

      Hi ride,

      Funny you should mention it, I was thinking of posting about Insulin. About 12 years ago I developed late onset type I diabetes, I was 51 at the time. Pretty rare but not unheard of. Kind of messes with one’s head, particularly a prepper’s head, LOL

      Right off the bat I will warn anyone reading this that I am not a professional, I have no formal medical training, and advise you to not do anything I do without consultin your doctor or doing your own due diligence. Which by the way I have done.

      Someone mentioned One Second After, as I recall the main problem was simply not having any supply at all on hand. Insulin it is good for at least 30 days at room temperature, 72ºF or below, says so right on the included documentation. And 2 years when stored between 35º and 45ºF.  Now here is the key: by law, the expiration date of drugs in the US is set by determining at what point a medication has lost 5% efficacy.

      Upshot is, one second before 2 years, insulin is still 95% effective if stored properly.

      Being a bunker boy lo these many years, the first thing I did was tell my doc that I used slightly more insulin than I actually do. Then I either use an automatic service like Express Scripts or am very certain I get to the drugstore promptly as soon as the script can be refilled. It took me a few years to get there but I have kept a two year supply on hand for several years now. Of course, you have to rotate any perishable item you store so I’ve been using insulin at least 2 years old with no adverse effects for at least 5 years. My average blood sugar is usually indistinguishable from a “normy.”

      Type 1 diabetes is tricky, everything from season, to illness, to exercise, to stress to— foremost— everything you eat, can send blood sugar spiking or crashing. Over the years when I’ve been frustrated with higher than expected readings I have opened a brand new vial just to assure myself that it is not the fault of “old” insulin—every time I have not been able to discern a difference between newly manufactured and 2 year old insulin.

      I’ve searched hard but have never found any documentation on how fast insulin might deteriorate after the 2 year mark. My anticipation is that it will likely last a while longer but deteriorate more quickly.

      Brand name insulin is about $500 a pop retail, I use a vial of one flavor approximately every 37 days and another about every 50. My co-pay currently is $50 per for patented varieties. However, generic insulin is available at Walmart for $25, regular (Novolin) and NPH (for those of you in the know). These are far inferior to modern analogs but for the price of one vial of Lantus you could have a 2 year supply in a few trips to Wally’s, better than the alternative.

      So, Insulin likes 35-45ºF. For unopened vials, some amount of time above that and below say 80ºF is acceptable to me—just don’t want to leave it on the dash! But like many things diabetes, the opposite problem is worse than the one most folks worry about—if insulin gets over 72º for a short time it will be fine with perhaps a slight longevity hit—but if it ever freezes it is worthless!!! I have three temperature alarms on my fridge…

      …there is $12-15,000 of insulin in there at any time! If it freezes for just a short while it is a goner.

      Since getting T1 I’ve moved 4 times across country, and I’ve had multiple redundant cooling arrangements. The most reliable alternative is the “coolth” of the earth. The sump in my basement is 58 right now. Only been here a few months but it will likely stay below 65 in the fall I guess before cooling over winter. With a 6″ EPS insulated box and cooler pads kept damp I can keep it below 60 with no electricity. Might not make it 3 years but I’m sure it will make it a couple with some potency remaining.

      I’ve had or still have, condenser and non condenser Peltier style mini fridges, AC mini ice makers, propane/ NG powered RV fridges (an Amish specialty) mega-insulated homemade basement boxes, you name it! I have wet cell batteries. I have several used solar panels wrapped in cardboard/ foil/ cardboard/ plywood— and various mismatched controllers inverters transformers etc in a garbage can.

      Oops, another tome, LOL. But don’t forget misc supplies:, syringes, test strips, lancets, spare meters (and BATTERIES), lancers, glucose tabs!

      • 3

        The back of my refrigerator half freezes water bottles placed in the back of it, and the fridge is set to it’s lowest setting. This is good to know because I have a friend on insulin and if they ever bring some over, I’ll now know not to put their medicine in the back.

      • 3

        Thanks for sharing your setup Pops! Having so much stored in one place sounds a bit nerve wracking.  I’m glad you’re spreading the word about freezing sometimes being worse than getting warmed up. I work with enzymes and bacterial cultures and you have to be very careful about what can get frozen and what can get thawed. And even if something is stable in a wide temperature range, freeze/thaw cycles degrade proteins. My RA medicine is a monoclonal antibody that is totally fine at room temperature for 2 weeks, but can NOT be frozen.  

        Have you looked into the federal shelf life extension program? The military worked with the FDA to test a ton of old medicine. I know insulin is one of the ones they say didn’t last as long (along with liquid antibiotics and nitroglycerin) and I wonder if you can find the actual data anywhere. I imagine storage conditions matter a lot. 

        Also, if you haven’t already heard about it, the Open Insulin project is very cool: https://openinsulin.org/ 

      • 7

        Hi Ride, Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out.

        Very true about misimpressions. Just as folks fret if they see me eating a Christmas cookie because they think it will give put me in the hospital, the real problem isn’t sugar but lack of insulin that enables its use. In fact the real short term danger is not consuming enough carbs to balance with the insulin dose, hypoglycemia can be fatal 

        But back to storage. Package inserts typically say to toss opened insulin after 30 days. It is a huge waste—and a huge money maker for drug companies. I sort of look at my stored insulin as an accumulation of “depreciated assets” LOL

        I am familiar with the FDA  .mil program, IIRC I searched several primary sources and could not even find insulin mentioned. In secondary reports they only say that “insulin degrades quickly” after expiry or some such.

        Unlike some antibiotics that reportedly can actually be harmful after expiration, the problem that insulin will eventually have is simple loss of efficacy—at least that is my impression. Insulin is just a protein so that is understandable. 

        Lots of folks do not feel comfortable adjusting their own dosage, they call the doc and report their glucose test results and wait to be told what changes, if any, they should make. In the event that I am using, say, 3 year old insulin, I’m confident I can adjust my dose to maintain my body. Again, moderately high blood sugar is not an immediate threat as long as you are getting enough insulin to maintain function and stay out of serious ketosis (which build up acid due to breaking down protein for fuel). I’m talking short term emergency, high blood sugar alone can cause vision, kidney and other functional problems. However many undiagnosed type 2 diabetics have elevated glucose levels for years with no symptoms—except the eventual heart attack.

        Anyway, I did a quick search and found this recent paper: Insulin Storage. I’ll give it a look and report back.

      • 2

        Briefly, the study I linked complained of too little study on insulin storage. It hit the points I mentioned, store long-term at 36-46ºF (2-8ºC) don’t let it freeze, don’t let it get very hot. keep it out of the sun.

        Importantly it also confirmed that expiration date is determined by the point potency falling below 95%—in the drug companies opinion. But in one study when properly refrigerated, insulins that were tested lost only +/- .01% of potency per month and in another study of distribution handling temperatures ranged quite far from ideal with no effect.

      • 2

        As a nurse I see nothing wrong with your plan, and I’m pretty impressed! 

        I’m pretty sure test strips don’t last as long, so that seems like a bigger problem.  I guess if you run out of strips or your final glucometer breaks, you can just continue on and stop testing like so many of my patients like to do at baseline (NOT recommended). Do you know how long a bottle of test strips really would last? We throw them away after 30 days.

        As for the OP: a backup generator and a small refrigerator would be a good disaster survival plan for storage.  And I have a refrigerator in my RV that can run on propane. Longer term I think pops has it covered.

        But running out when it’s not available is the worse scenario, and with something so expensive you are not going to be able to stockpile without huge expense. I think those of us on life saving maintenance medications may need to make peace with a shortened survival rate if we can’t get our meds.

      • 4

        Hi Courtney, thanks!

        This is TL;DR for non-diabetics. And if you do read, understand that I’m not a medical professional, just some anonymous guy on the internet and you must do your own due diligence!

        :^)

        I’m not as diligent with strips as with insulin but I have found a few things. I use the walmart cheapo brand, perhaps not as accurate per strip but they seem to average out OK based on my A1c. They probably are good for at least a year according to this, admittedly biased test, but again they don’t just go bad overnight—that is just the length of time the manufacturer will guarantee them.

        FDA says ALL strips must test within 20% for levels above 75 mg/dl and within 15% if below. Walmart Prime strips @ 17¢ do that just as well as the name brands at a buck or more a pop. I’ve read that the cost to produce a strip is about 15¢. I assume Walmart sells diabetic supplies at cost as a loss-leader. The Contour and some others are cheap on Amazon but on this I’ll trust Wally’s to be more reliable with perhaps better storage.

        I test 4x day + when I feel weird so about 20 days for 100 strips, maybe 5 or 600 on hand as a minimum but that fluctuates. If I’m at the store and they have lots—and their expiration dates are a year off— I’ll buy several 100ct boxes and my backup will expand. If they don’t have many on the shelf I’ll probably not buy any since I have a backup and other people likely don’t.

        The thing to watch for in the store is the expiration date, I just bought a box with a date of January 2023 [edited to correct from “2022”]. But I’ve also seen the date only a few weeks out at times.

        I never throw away open containers of strips based on opening date. I do keep a few strips in the car and bedroom in separate little bottles that I rotate when I think about it. I think the biggest problem is humidity, for bulk packaged strips be sure your hands are DRY before digging one out.

        There is an enzyme in the strip that can go bad. Most everything I’ve read says store between 45º & 80ºF so I don’t keep my “stock” in the fridge but in the basement. 

        I would think a disaster scenario would be take the regular basal insulin dose and only test and bolus for intake and correction once or at most twice a day depending on diet—that would conserve both strips and syringes (I don’t use the pens). If A1c runs high for a few months that would be fine— just so I can avoid hypo or DKA at all costs. I have a couple bottles of ketone strips (that I should probably replace, now that I think of it) and an obscene number of syringes.

        As for cost. If a person uses their insulin and strips just a few days beyond the 30 day disposal deadline every month, but continues refilling on the 30 day schedule, they will automatically build a cushion.

        All that being said, if a person finds or feels they will lose control of their glucose level with 31 day-old insulin or their meter goes haywire at 31 days (or they worry it will) they should by all means stick to the book! I’m just some guy on the internet!

        Here are a couple links I found

        Good article from Diabetes Council

        NIH Disaster testing meters

      • 1

        I am one of those non-diabetics, but did read your post and just wanted to say how impressed with your rotation and attention to detail you have with your strip preps here. 

      • 2

        Thanks Oily, I’ve been a prepper since forever but am a late-onset diabetic, about a dozen years now. At first the diagnosis was a real hit to my basic outlook on life. I had 40 acres and a Ford and thought I was set up for most scenarios baring total slate-wipers. Like most preppers I had read all the fan fiction describing how diabetics were always the first to go in any run of bad luck. So I tried to resign myself to simply being grateful for whatever time I could eek out beyond my own, now-past, expiration date.

        But it turns out that you shouldn’t believe the date printed on the label. I plan going out kicking and screaming, and not in the first act either!

        LOL. Cheers.

      • 1

        Pops, I am loving this attention to detail. This is exactly the kind of self-taught expertise I am trying to build (although I am in a inflammation biology graduate class this semester, so I guess not totally self taught). Nice to see you have put so much work and thought into it, while being considerate to what other people need (eg. only stocking up on strips when the store has plenty). 

    • 4

      Does anyone have personal experience with the “GoSun” chiller/portable cooler/fridge?  It’s quite a bit less expensive than the Dometic and I like that it is more lightweight. I found one at a deep discount for a Labor Day sale and before I pick it up (they’re holding it at the store for me) I’d welcome some comments from the community. I’ve researched reviews online but have found very little. https://gosun.co/products/chill

      • 3

        Thanks for sharing that link, it looks like a great product and I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it. Sorry I don’t have any personal experience with it myself. 

      • 1

        This product looks cool. I’ve had really mixed results with “all in one” solar-powered stuff, if you do end up getting it I would love to hear how you like it! 

      • 3

        I got it last week and finally tried it out today! So far I am very pleased. Because I have several Jackerys, each with their own solar panel, I did not buy the solar charger to go with this. However, the GoSun comes with a very powerful battery which I charged from the wall outlet (and that I could charge from either the AC or DC outlet of  a Jackery if needed in a no-grid situation). I then put two large bottles of water inside the unit, set the temperature to 35, and went about my evening. Three hours later I came back and WOW! They were super cold, all from being powered by just the detachable, compact external battery that could also be used to power other devices.

        It isn’t perfect. For one thing, there’s warnings all over the user manual that if it tilts past 30 degrees while in operation, or 45 degrees in transport, you have to wait TWELVE HOURS to turn it on or it will damage the compressor.  Something about the refrigerant liquefying? I didn’t really understand but I’m willing to be careful given that this model is almost half the price of competitors, and lower in weight. But that’s something to consider if you expect it to be in rough environments, as 30 degrees really isn’t very much.  The other thing is that when it first turned on it was pretty loud.  Once it got down to temperature the noise was not too awful but it’s not something I’d want to have running all the time in a room I’m trying to sleep in!  I’m sure it would work better if I had first filled it with cold products though, and then turned it on, as the mass would have helped it reach temperature faster and maintain it longer. 

        The capacity is excellent – I can probably fit at least a weeks’ worth of food in here – and the temperature range is quite broad; it can be a freezer or a refrigerator.  I’m going to keep it as part of my preps. Some of the reviews I did finally find said the user manual was impossible, but they must have fixed that because I found it very easy to understand.  This is definitely something I would recommend for folks in areas where grid outages are likely during hot periods, like in hurricane country.  Of all the 12V portable fridges I have researched, this is the most cost-effective and the first one I found that I can comfortably lift on my own (empty). Would probably work very well for refrigerated medications. I’m going to hedge my bets and buy a thermometer to keep inside it just to be sure. 

      • 2

        M.E.! I’m so happy for you!  Having an refrigerator and freezer that can work off grid like that is a game changer in so many ways. 

        I remember the movers delivering my kitchen fridge to my house and said that I had to wait 24 hours to turn it on because it was on it’s side. Something about the liquid refrigerant needing to settle down in the coils again. Maybe it’s like running your car without oil and would overheat it.

        30 degrees isn’t very much though, so you do have to be careful with taking it camping. But for an at home situation like for those in hurricane country, like you said, it would be an excellent low powered backup.

        Thank you for your update and review. I’m going to look into getting one now.

    • 2

      I’ve got some cream for my psoriasis that needs to be kept in a fridge but if no electric I can use something else instead which dosent need to be kept in a fridge.

    • 4

      hi Ride

      I don,t know if anyone has talked about a propane fridge we used one for a few years before we went solar, if the grid is down and the sun don,t shine they would see you through 

      all the best

      John

      • 1

        still blows my mind whenever i hear there is such a thing as a propane fridge. 

      • 2

        Yes John here in the UK you can get THREE way fridges and freezers designed for RV use. They are powered by

        Mains electric (220V AC in the UK)

        12 volt DC

        Propane / Butane

        Some remote and island based medical facilities also use them because of the irregular power supplies.

        The only I had was 10 years old when I bought it from a scrapped RV, it lasted another 12 years before it broke.

    • 2

      So a type one Hippie I once knew who lived in a caravan ( camping trailer) used to keep his insulin in a totally waterproof box at the bottom of a pond ( fed by stream) on his land. apparently the water at deeper than Four feet where the water temp remains stable at around 50 f all year. HIH??

      • 1

        Many people will keep their food in dry bags and place it in a running stream to keep things cool and act as a little fridge. Also common with beer and soda cans. Be careful about putting your lips on those cans after though, because you probably have some nice bacteria on it.

    • 5

      Another lurker here. I like Bill Masen’s idea of utilising a water course if deep enough. Another option is a root cellar or my personal faourite a Zeer Pot. These are all passive methods of cooling and require no energy at all to achive the end goal.

      Zeer Pots.

      Make a Zeer Pot Fridge

      Simple Solutions to Modern Technologies.

      I sometimes think the modern brain over complicates a solution to what is often a very simple problem. For instance, one winter we had a power outage for a couple of days. I simply put everything from the fridge into a plastic tote and left it outside by the back door. 

      • 1

        That’s what they are called! I had mentioned this method of passive refrigeration up above in another comment, but didn’t know what they were called. Have you ever made or used one before JennyWren? I have not

      • 3

        Yes I have. I’m a bit of a geek at heart and love a good experiment. Especially if it helps me understand and improve my skills. I made one using a couple of terracotta plant pots and soil. I think there’s a few Youtubes out there that show this method. I think the young man who piloted the idea deserves recognition, but I can’t remember his name! Any how, it worked, but I do think in this case bigger is better.  

        I’ve also dug a hole for an old plastic drum with a good fitting lid. That works well too if it’s buried in a shady spot. 

      • 1

        So do you think that a larger version would in fact be a good solution for an emergency mini fridge?

      • 2

        Oh absolutely, you just have to recognise it’s limitations. Don’t expect it to keep things as cold as your fridge.

      • 2

        Hi Jenneywren, evaporating water for cooling is a great idea in certain areas. “Zeer” is an Arabic word from probably thousands of years before oil-fired electricity and refrigerators. I think I’ve read that American natives and Asian cultures used the technique way back as well. Making the link between evaporation and cooling was probably ubiquitous in desert regions.

        Water pots would extend the shelf life of fresh foods some. Here is a chart I found:

        evap_F

        Especially people who live in the US southwest or other arid region and have water to spare. I’ve experimented with pots in the basement here but it is too humid to do much and is already around 65º. And certainly out in the open here (in Missouri and probably east) they would do nothing 9 out of 10 days

        An easy test for the suitability of you area is to find out the “wet-bulb” temperature and compare it too the dry-bulb (that chart is basically the wet-bulb).

        Just use any thermometer to find the air temp, that is the dry-bulb temp. Then wrap the sensor portion of the thermometer (the “bulb”) with a wet cloth and expose it to whatever breeze there may be. As the water evaporates it will cool the thermometer to the wet-bulb temperature. The difference between the wet “bulb” and the dry “bulb” is the amount of cooling possible with the clay pots at 100% efficiency.

        Same with canvas water bags, or those canteens with the blanket on the outside, or a wet bandanna—or a ceiling fan.

      • 2

        I found this at NWS.

        Look for the temp labeled WBGT(F) that is the coolest you can get using evaporation, whether it’s clay pot or sweaty t-shirt. I’m in the NE of that Tulsa map, 88ºF today and with the humidity I might get down to 78º. In Tulsa the wet bulb is 86º and air temp is 94º! That’s humidity.

        Wet bulb is something we’ll hear more about as we warm up. Warm air can hold more water but that humidity can get you—when they say “yeah, but it is a dry heat” they aren’t lying about it being easier to stay cool via sweat.

        Play with the sliders…

      • 2

        Jenny, thanks for the link to the tech x lab website. What a great resource. I’ve also put food outside during a winter power outage, although in the case of my medication freezing is worse than warming up. 

    • 1

      I wanted to share this 4 minute video that came up on my YouTube feed. It’s similar to Redneck’s setup. 

      Now I just wish that I had the money for something like this, it’s super cool!

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        That is very cool but I still think using a solar generator on a standard DC powered refrigerator is way more flexible as to utilizing expensive resources.

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      Bill Masen shared some great news in another forum thread that I wanted to cross link to titled: Insulin for type 1 diabetics that does not need refridgeration created in India

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      Today only (22 December), the GoSun Chill that I have and like is on sale for $499 with the power bank or $399 without (you won’t need the power bank if you already have, say, a Jackery or a generator). It is the best price I’ve seen all year.