The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Fridge Root Cellar Safety

Old fridge to be turned into a root cellar.I got a kick out of your refrigerator burying idea, but wonder about the
cooling fluids, if there are any, and if there might be any chemicals you'd not want, seeping into any vegetables you might be storing?
--- Mom

That's a great question!  A century ago, the chemicals used to keep refrigerators cold included ammonia, methyl chloride, and sulfur dioxide, which leaked out of fridges and killed people.  As a result, we switched over to freon, a chemical that isn't toxic to humans but does rip big holes in the ozone layer if it escapes from your fridge.  In the 1990s, we switched again and started using a chemical that neither harms us nor the ozone layer.

Our fridge may date from the freon era, but since the fridge stopped cooling our food even though it kept running, we can be pretty sure that the refrigerants leaked out already.
  The book we got the fridge root cellar idea out of suggested removing the cooling coils, but we think that we'd be more likely to puncture them and release refrigerants in the process.  Hopefully, any remaining refrigerant gases will be safely sequestered in the soil.

Looking for other fun DIY projects?  Visit our homemade chicken waterer page.

This post is part of our Fridge Root Cellar series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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