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Ice water

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I feel real bad about taking so long to put up this page. Had it been in place before the Great Heat Wave of 1999, many lives would surely have been saved. Accept my apologies.

This idea for making ice water was born of a noisy GE refrigerator. That thing could wake the dead. Forget trying to hear the stereo in the living room from the kitchen when my frig kicked on.

The thing ran most of the time, but even if it had just cycled off, opening the door would get it started again in a few seconds at most. I think it could read minds almost, because it usually fired up the millisecond you touched the door handle.

How I lived with it all those years, I'll never know. Except I do, because trying to replace it with a quiet frig turned out to be a totally miserable, year-long experience. We won't get into that here, but, refrigerator companies, if you're listening, please give some consideration to those of us who view quietness as the single most important feature of a refrigerator. (Keeping food cold is presumed.) You hardly mention quietness in your brochures.

I noticed that opening the freezer on top did not have the same effect of waking the sleeping giant. Whether that indicates that less cold air was lost by a quick trip into the freezer section, or whether it just meant that the frig would have to work harder further down the line to replenish lost, cold air, I don't know. But it was nice not having to put up with an immediate racket.

So the question was, how to use the freezer section for cold water. Ice cubes were out. Not only are they a bother, but they take forever to cool down water from room temperature, even with stirring. (This is in opposition to soda, which cools down almost instantly on ice. Must have something to do with the carbon dioxide bubbles.) Also, self-defrost freezers dedicate their lives to trying to make ice cubes go away.

This is what I came up with. Pay attention - here's the ice water recipe.

Ze Recipee: Put enough water in a 2-liter soda bottle so that it's about an inch deep when the bottle is lying on its side. All that matters is that it leaves the neck of the bottle open.

Put the bottle on its side in the freezer and let the water freeze.

Whenever you want cold water, pull the bottle out of the freezer. Remove the cap. Pour in about as much water (bottled, filtered, tap - choose your poison) as you think you want to drink. Replace the cap. Shake the bottle vigorously for a few seconds. If the iceberg is stuck to the inside wall of the bottle, press in from the outside to knock it loose. A loose iceberg gives the fastest cooling action, of course. Remove the cap. Pour water. Replace cap. Under humid conditions, wipe off any condensation which formed on the outside of the bottle. Replace bottle in the freezer. Drink your ice-cold water.

This process is much easier and quicker than it may sound. You will develop, right from the get-go, a feel for the amount of shaking required to achieve the desired drinking temperature. It must be instinct.

And consider the efficiency - virtually no ice is wasted. Whatever ice didn't sacrifice itself for the sake of your cold water is preserved for the next round, with no additional expenditure of energy required. And because of the protection of the plastic bottle, the defrost mode can't get at your ice chunk, try as it might.

I doubt a person in a million gives thought to conserving ice cubes. My friend David explains that they are "just water", and will run the faucet for a second, supposedly demonstrating the equivalent of wasting ice cubes. I suggest the proper way to think of an ice cube is not as a cubic inch of cheap, indestructible water, but as a cubic inch of energy - which costs money and uses up resources. Doing things efficiently has other subtle benefits, which I will leave to the reader to discover.

Soft drink, soda, pop: While we're talking refreshing drinks, here's another modest innovation. Without stirring, pour refrigerated soda into ice-cold water (see above recipe) in a 50/50 mix. This cuts the overbearing sweetness of the soda to a tolerable level. There's plenty of taste left - much more than in tea, say - and enough fizz. Very refreshing. I know how much we hate soda watered down by melting ice cubes, but it's not the same thing when it's done under your control at your discretion. Try it.

Geezeritis: When we were kids, soft drink was a big deal. We got it so infrequently, and we were so unsoda-savvy that we called all varieties and all brands "coke". The world was so simple back then . . .


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