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Ancient refrigeation

 
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Ancient refrigerators

By 400 BC, Persian engineers had mastered the technique of storing ice in the middle of summer in the desert. The ice was brought in duri...
ng the winters from nearby mountains in bulk amounts, and stored in a Yakhchal, or ice-pit. These ancient refrigerators were used primarily to store ice for use in the summer, as well as for food storage, in the hot, dry desert climate of Iran. The ice was also used to chill treats for royalty during hot summer days and to make faloodeh, the traditional Persian frozen dessert.

Aboveground, the structure is comprised of a large mud brick dome, often rising as tall as 60 feet tall. Below are large underground spaces, up to 5000m³, with a deep storage space. The space often had access to a Qanat, or wind catchand often contained a system of windcatchers that could easily bring temperatures inside the space down to frigid levels in summer days.

Yakhchal have thick mud brick walls that are up to two meters thick at the base, made out of a special mortar called sārooj, composed of sand, clay, egg whites, lime, goat hair, and ash in specific proportions, and which was resistant to heat transfer. This mixture was thought to be completely water impenetrable.

The massive insulation and the continuous cooling waters that spiral down its side keep the ice stored there in winter frozen throughout the summer. These ice houses used in desert towns from antiquity have a trench at the bottom to catch what water does melt from the ice and allow it to refreeze during the cold desert nights. The ice is broken up and moved to caverns deep in the ground. As more water runs into the trench the process is repeated
 
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In the days before refrigerators were in every home and when electricity was rare,
my grandfather owned an ice house and my father and his brother delivered the
blocks. I asked my father how their system worked one time and he floundered to
explain it finally saying "Hell, I don't remember". I wish I had the sense to ask him
to draw me a picture. He was remembering more than he wanted to talk about.
 
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Neat!

This article gives a really good description of how it works.

This reminds me of Paul's Wofati freezer, except that with the yakhchal, they use freezing ponds and chilling holes instead of Paul's pluggable vent tubes.
 
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As a side note, ice cream was introduced to Europe through Rome. The Romans learned the technique from Arab traders, who had learned it in India. I assume it was from the far north of India.

 
Adrien Lapointe
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John, how did they do it? A simple cold storage with blocks of ice covered in saw dust (or an equivalent) like in the old days here in North America or something like the persian yakhchal?
 
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Karen Crane wrote:Ancient refrigerators

By 400 BC, Persian engineers had mastered the technique of storing ice in the middle of summer in the desert. The ice was brought in duri...
ng the winters from nearby mountains in bulk amounts, and stored in a Yakhchal, or ice-pit. These ancient refrigerators were used primarily to store ice for use in the summer, as well as for food storage, in the hot, dry desert climate of Iran. The ice was also used to chill treats for royalty during hot summer days and to make faloodeh, the traditional Persian frozen dessert.

Aboveground, the structure is comprised of a large mud brick dome, often rising as tall as 60 feet tall. Below are large underground spaces, up to 5000m³, with a deep storage space. The space often had access to a Qanat, or wind catchand often contained a system of windcatchers that could easily bring temperatures inside the space down to frigid levels in summer days.

Yakhchal have thick mud brick walls that are up to two meters thick at the base, made out of a special mortar called sārooj, composed of sand, clay, egg whites, lime, goat hair, and ash in specific proportions, and which was resistant to heat transfer. This mixture was thought to be completely water impenetrable.

The massive insulation and the continuous cooling waters that spiral down its side keep the ice stored there in winter frozen throughout the summer. These ice houses used in desert towns from antiquity have a trench at the bottom to catch what water does melt from the ice and allow it to refreeze during the cold desert nights. The ice is broken up and moved to caverns deep in the ground. As more water runs into the trench the process is repeated



The thread should say " ancient FRIGERATION" not REfrigeration.
Ice that is already froze is "fridgid"
What Off gridders need is efficient and cheap REfridgeration. (that is making hot stuff cold)

 
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A good source with diagrams on this old Persian technology is Nader Khalili's "ceramic houses and earth architecture" in one of the early chapters.
 
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For Greg West - Look into the ice cave phenomenon, particularly the evaporative cooling situations. It's a really "permie friendly" angle on the problem.
 
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