History of ice

For thousands of years ice in various forms has been used to conserve food and to cool drinks. But how does ice build before the refrigerator is invented?

The ice was harvested from frozen rivers and lakes or glaciers located in the mountains at high altitudes and was transported and stored in specially constructed warehouses called glaciers.

Cuneiform writings keep records of the use of this practice 2000 years before our era, in Mesopotamia, in the valley of the Euphrates where Egyptian pharaohs bought ice-filled vessels. Persians mastered the technique of storing ice in immense, naturally cooled refrigerators called "yakchals." These structures retained during summer the ice collected in the winter, or the ice brought from the nearby mountains. They were fitted with wind-catchers that kept the storage space at a low temperature.

The Chinese, the Romans, and the Greeks also used the glacier technique, and after the barbarian invasions, it was taken over by the Muslim world. In India, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the mogul empire used crews with very fast horses to bring them to the Delhi ice in the Hindu Kush Mountains and from ancient times the Anatolian people kept the ice by storing it in the crevasses the mountains they covered with rods or rods.

Starting with the eighteenth century, natural ice was produced in freezing pools. Located at high altitudes, about 50 centimeters deep and stretched, they were fed by small natural water runs. Few low-temperature nights were enough to get a layer of ice up to 15 cm thick. The "manufactured" ice was preserved, sometimes even up to 2-3 years, in the glaciers. Glaciers were usually underground as a well-insulated warehouse with timber and straw located near water, on a higher terrain to be protected from floods and infiltrations, and with a typically North-facing door. Then the precious ice was transported, wrapped in thin slivers, in covered trays in which there was abundant straw.

Gradually, ice distribution has become a profitable industry and has enjoyed particular development especially in the United States. With the development of big cities in this area, the demand for cold drinks and frozen creams has overwhelmingly led to a strong trade-off with ice. Apart from this, various types of business appeared that could only be achieved with the help of ice, such as trade in fresh fish, meat, vegetables and milk as well as the manufacture and storage of beer, wine and butter. All of these industries have been able to further boost ice consumption.


Before the electric refrigerators were invented in the 1930s, housewives kept their perishable food in special boxes made of wood that had two compartments: In one of them, ice blocks were inserted, and in the other compartment the food that had to be kept cold. Under these "refrigerators" there were pots in which the water flowed when the ice melted. In the summer, every morning, special trucks delivered the ice to the various houses, and the housewives put a tablet on the window of the house, writing the amount of ice they needed. If the truck driver did not see this board, he knew the house did not need ice.

It is only in the 19th century that the artificial ice has succeeded in replacing the natural ice, and its great advantage is that it can be manufactured in any season and has a superior quality to the one harvested in rivers and lakes. Thus, with the development of refrigeration appliances, the place of the old glacier was taken by the ice plant. The factories continued to produce ice blocks to meet the needs of the industry or the population


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