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  #1  
Old 11-12-2007, 10:46 PM
stuyguy stuyguy is offline
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Can I safely fill a big hard plastic "ice chest"-type cooler with near-boiling water?

I'm having an outdoor event. I'd like to serve a hot beverage -- coffee, tea or hot chocolate. The crucial need is to transport gallons of near-boiling water to the event site and keep it hot all the while. I thought to myself, why not just pour the boiling water right into my Coleman Polylite 34 "cooler," clamp on the lid, and be done with it? But would it work? Is an "ice chest" able to hold scalding water safely? Anybody know?
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  #2  
Old 11-12-2007, 10:58 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is offline
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Probably, but if you do manage it, wrap some belts around the cooler to make absolutely sure it won't open. It'll be heavy and if it tips and opens, somebody's gonna get seriously burnt.
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  #3  
Old 11-12-2007, 11:01 PM
ignis_glaciesque ignis_glaciesque is offline
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I'd be more worried about clamping the lid shut if you have any significant airspace left over; expanding gas volumes will make that a hairy proposition at best. I got this travel mug with a sealed lid, and anytime I have hot coffee in it, it pops back open, unless I fill it up to the very brim. But all the same, I wouldn't recommend it, though it's a very inventive use of a cooler.
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  #4  
Old 11-12-2007, 11:03 PM
Chrismoody Chrismoody is offline
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Why not just use a portable stove and heat the water?

In the amount of time it takes to travel to wherever you're going from home and then serve (open and close and open and close and open and close the lid) it'll be tepid at best for the second half of the water. And probably dirty (ever see the ice in a beer cooler halfway through a campfire party? I dare you to drink it).

A coleman or even a few pots on a campfire will do you fine.

And you won't be drinking tepid tea or tipping boiling water off your tailgate like you're protecting a castle.
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  #5  
Old 11-13-2007, 10:05 AM
anson2995 anson2995 is offline
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A lot of serious accidents occur when people try to use the wrong tool for a job, and this sounds like a text book example. I'd say the risk of spilling boiling water with this sort of misadventure is remarkably high, and with that volume of water there's a potential for catastrophic -- even fatal -- injury.

One approach would be to buy a five gallon cooler like this one which you can get for anywhere from $10-$40, depending on the quality. The risk of spilling is still there, however, and you need to keep in mind that five gallons of water weighs 40 pounds. If you have to move the cooler more than 20 yards, I wouldn't recommend this either.

I'll second the notion that the best option (and the only safe one, in my mind) is to heat the water on site, using a simple camping stove.
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  #6  
Old 11-13-2007, 10:30 AM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
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I'd be worried about destroying the plastic. You will probably leach out plasticizers at that temperature if you don't completely melt it anyway. As the others have mentioned, the risk of dumping boiling water out is very high. This is a very bad idea.
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  #7  
Old 11-13-2007, 10:31 AM
GaryM GaryM is online now
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Contact a party supply rental place and spend a few bucks to rent one of the big insulated thermos bottles they use to serve coffee and such. The Salvation Army and Red Cross use them all the time at disaster sites. Kind of look like half kegs. The lid latches down and it has a spigot on the side. They hold quite a bit. Might need two.
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  #8  
Old 11-13-2007, 11:39 AM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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Never mind about melting the plastic, leaching out plasticizers, or spilling boiling water all over the poor mope who kindly volunteers to help you tote it from the car to the site because he doesn't quite grasp how heavy it is until it's too late (36 quarts or 9 gallons of water weighs about 75 pounds): it's the hygiene. If I were at your event, and I observed that you were making hot chocolate for your guests with hot water dipped out of your Coleman cooler, I'd have a serious hygiene bone to pick with you. At the very least, I'd politely pass on it. I've seen people use their Coleman coolers to transport all kinds of things I wouldn't want in my mouth, up to and including dead animals to the taxidermist. Even a standard package of bologna tossed into the cooler for a picnic can have bacteria on the wrapper, which then presumably get into the cooler, and which then get onto anything else that's put into the cooler.

So people at your event would probably for the most part be like, "Meh, no thanks", and you'd get home with your 20 boxes of Swiss Miss completely untouched.
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  #9  
Old 11-13-2007, 12:42 PM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
it's the hygiene.
You remind me of my wife when she freaks out over letting our dog clean up one of our dinner plates. After all, they can be washed and sanitized. It's not unusual to do this with coolers, and sanitation is quite easy to accomplish. Case in point: I'll be using my picnic cooler early next week to brine my first turkey. At some point afterward, I won't hesitate to use it for, say, cans, bottles, and ice for consumption.
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  #10  
Old 11-13-2007, 01:03 PM
Scarlett67 Scarlett67 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balthisar
You remind me of my wife when she freaks out over letting our dog clean up one of our dinner plates. After all, they can be washed and sanitized. It's not unusual to do this with coolers, and sanitation is quite easy to accomplish. Case in point: I'll be using my picnic cooler early next week to brine my first turkey. At some point afterward, I won't hesitate to use it for, say, cans, bottles, and ice for consumption.
OK, but would you trust someone else to have done the same with their cooler?

Mr S. and I used the leftover ice water in our cooler to soothe our hot, dirty feet after a long camping weekend. We've washed it, but I wouldn't say we've sanitized it. Then again, we don't store food in direct contact with it. Still wanna dip some ice water out of it for your drink?

(FWIW, we do let our dogs lick plates, and then joke that the plates are so clean that we could put them right back in the cupboard. Then we wash them, duh.)
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  #11  
Old 11-13-2007, 02:25 PM
anson2995 anson2995 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
Even a standard package of bologna tossed into the cooler for a picnic can have bacteria on the wrapper, which then presumably get into the cooler, and which then get onto anything else that's put into the cooler.
Wouldn't the 9 gallons of boiling water address this issue?
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  #12  
Old 11-13-2007, 03:42 PM
Carson O'Genic Carson O'Genic is offline
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I'm with Christopher on this,i.e.,concerned whether the material would handle the temp. without leaching plasticizers.Doesn't mean I can't be wrong,but anything designed for cooling isn't ipso facto designed for boiling water.
The sanitation concerns can be handled easily.Perhaps you should contact the manufacturer with the concerns? Likely they have addressed such tort.
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  #13  
Old 11-13-2007, 05:16 PM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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I've heard a lot about using coolers in homebrew circles, although I can't remember exactly why (it didn't interest me at the time). It definitely including boiling-hot wort, though. The coolers in question were designated for beverages, though. They're the kind you see on construction sites for cold water in the summer.
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  #14  
Old 11-13-2007, 05:19 PM
unlimitlessly unlimitlessly is offline
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A great many plastics soften at high temperature, and most release solvents.
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  #15  
Old 11-13-2007, 05:29 PM
Chrismoody Chrismoody is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anson2995
Wouldn't the 9 gallons of boiling water address this issue?
Nearly boiling water... For a short time (not boiling water for several minutes). Then it begins to cool quite rapidly toward the 98.6 degree range (that "infecting us" sweet spot for bacteria).

Get water hot... pour into ice chest... Get water hot... pour into ice chest... Lots of surface area there.. Its steaming a lot.. Means lots of heat is coming off that.. Close lid.. Swish slosh.. some pretty hot water gets on the lid.. not much.. slosh slosh...
Hey Bill! Pretty good hot chocolate... Got any more hot water, though? This one isn't as hot as the last one." Ecoli outbreak.

How's that for a family picnic?
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  #16  
Old 11-13-2007, 05:32 PM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
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As has been suggested previously in this post, the real question is what temperature ranges is the plastic used to construct this "cooler" designed for. In all reality, most plastics are not designed to weather 1000 C temperatures for very long. At the very least, it could cause the plasticizers to "phase separate" even if they don't leach into the drink. This would destroy the plastics function for future use.
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  #17  
Old 11-13-2007, 05:37 PM
Cluricaun Cluricaun is offline
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I just emailed the following to Coleman via their website. I'll let you know the reply I get, probably sometime tomorrow:

Quote:
I know that coolers are intended to be used to keep things cool, but what about the opposite? Is it safe to use to keep things warm? What's the max range of temps that a coleman cooler can generally handle?
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  #18  
Old 11-13-2007, 08:34 PM
Carson O'Genic Carson O'Genic is offline
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"I've heard a lot about using coolers in homebrew circles, although I can't remember exactly why (it didn't interest me at the time). It definitely including boiling-hot wort, though. The coolers in question were designated for beverages, though. They're the kind you see on construction sites for cold water in the summer."-Balthisar

The use of coolers in home brewing is during the mashing stage,where temps between 150-160F need to be maintained for protracted periods to convert starch to fermentable sugars.Wort boil is subsequent,in a kettle.
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  #19  
Old 11-13-2007, 08:39 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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I've used coolers to mash my homebrew, so they can definitely handle temps in the 150 range for hours.
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  #20  
Old 11-13-2007, 08:55 PM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balthisar
sanitation
If I observed that you were using a cooler to dip water, whether hot or cold, out of a cooler to serve directly to folks, I would have hygiene issues with you, because, as Scarlett points out, I don't know you, and I wouldn't have any way of knowing where your cooler had been, or what it had had in it just before you decided to use it for my tea water. For all I know, you had just used it to transport dead squirrels to the taxidermist, and thought that a quick rinse with the garden hose constituted "sanitation".

Also, merely exposing a surface to boiling water does not automatically destroy the staph bacteria on it. Cite.
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  #21  
Old 11-13-2007, 09:53 PM
ArmenE ArmenE is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balthisar
I've heard a lot about using coolers in homebrew circles, although I can't remember exactly why (it didn't interest me at the time). It definitely including boiling-hot wort, though. The coolers in question were designated for beverages, though. They're the kind you see on construction sites for cold water in the summer.
I'd just like to point out that I've used regular rectangular (not cylindrical) beer/soda coolers for mashing (part of brewing) at 160 or so. No problems there.
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  #22  
Old 11-14-2007, 09:48 AM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
If I observed that you were using a cooler to dip water, whether hot or cold, out of a cooler to serve directly to folks, I would have hygiene issues with you, because, as Scarlett points out, I don't know you, and I wouldn't have any way of knowing where your cooler had been, or what it had had in it just before you decided to use it for my tea water.
Yeah, you both make good points in not knowing me. Quite honestly, I'd probably have the same concerns if I randomly saw some random dude doing the same thing. Mainly I was pointing out that it's not necessarily unhygienic.

Quote:
Also, merely exposing a surface to boiling water does not automatically destroy the staph bacteria on it.
Personally I'm a big user of bleach, except for stainless steel, in which case I use a commercial sanitizer (which unfortunately costs significantly more than bleach).
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  #23  
Old 11-14-2007, 12:04 PM
Chrismoody Chrismoody is offline
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Why not just get a coleman stove and a couple pots? I'm sure someone you know must have the stove.. And who doesn't have a couple pots sitting around?
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  #24  
Old 11-14-2007, 12:57 PM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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A stove would have the advantage of giving you boiling water for tea. Tea made with water at anything less than a full rolling boil is sucky.

Unless of course you were planning on serving--[shudder]--instant tea, in which case I wash my hands of you.
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  #25  
Old 11-14-2007, 01:17 PM
Resistance is Character-Formin Resistance is Character-Formin is offline
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There could also be issues with the air in the insulating space expanding due to the heat. This combined with plastic that is not made for high temperatures possibly softening could cause a leak.
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  #26  
Old 11-16-2007, 12:11 PM
Cluricaun Cluricaun is offline
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Not that it's really important anymore, but I did just hear back from Coleman and the reply simply says:

Quote:

Cluricaun,

Our coolers are only for cooling only, they are not for heating purposes, so we do not have a temp range.



Thank you,

Customer service person
Coleman Consumer Service

Last edited by Cluricaun; 11-16-2007 at 12:11 PM..
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  #27  
Old 11-16-2007, 12:34 PM
Carson O'Genic Carson O'Genic is offline
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Thanks for getting back,Cluricaun.Perenially curious.
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