Nothing like a handful of nights of -20 or -30 degree nights to polarize hearty Northlanders; even though these sub-zero temperatures aren't necessarily anything "new" to us, it always seems to catch us off guard and take our breath away.

With an obvious nod to safety and health issues (i.e. avoid exposure, dress in layers, turn the heat up), the Arctic-like temperatures also create opportunities.  I offer one of those:  defrost your freezer.

While we live in an era of "frost-free" refrigerators and freezers, most chest or upright freezers aren't and that means an occasional defrosting. The defrosting process not only removes the unsightly buildup - offering additional space, it also lets your appliance run more efficiently.

Defrosting those full freezers takes some thoughtful planning - something that the extremely cold temperatures outside offer. Think about it - those below zero temps that Mother Nature is offering is like one big, gigantic outdoor freezer.  This allows you to safely empty your freezer and store the items temporarily outside while you finish the defrosting process.

Here are some of my tips:

  • While the storing items outside in below-zero temperatures will prevent them from spoiling, it won't protect the food from scavengers like mice, squirrels, and rabbits. As you empty the freezer, fill old tubs, boxes, and the like - something that allows you the chance to secure it from unwanted entry.
  • Consider storing the bagged and boxed food items in your vehicle; this helps prevent the rodent problem.
  • You probably don't have them stored in a freezer, but remember that you need to be especially careful with liquids or glass during the defrosting process.
  • After the freezer is empty - and off - place pots and pans filled with boiling water inside to help speed up the process.
  • If you need to scrape or chip away at built-up frost, take care to not damage coolant coils or any of the mechanics of the freezer that may lie underneath.
  • Here are some other tips to help you in the defrosting process.

Good luck! And make sure you don't let this cold opportunity pass you by - because it's a whole lot easier to defrost a freezer in January than it is in July!