The modern domestic freezer has been a part of many homes for the past 90 years and was introduced on masse by General Electric in 1927. Before the modern freezer was invented people used to use an ice box. An ice box was a wooden crate lined with zinc and insulated with materials such as cotton or straw in which a block of ice would be purchased to size and inserted into the box. The ice was sold by icemen throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and would last for an average of a week at a time. This enabled homes to be able to keep their food fresher for much longer than they had previously been able to and the ice box is seen as the predecessor to the modern day fridge and freezer.
In 1857 the first gas freezer was invented and used ammonia and sulphur dioxide as a means of cooling the air to below zero inside the machine. This allowed for the production of ice but the liquid ammonia proved to be a deadly substance. Many different types of gases were tested over time and it wasn’t until the discovery of Freon that fridges and freezers became widespread and a common fixture found in the home. Freon turned out to pose a risk to the world's ozone layer and was slowly discontinued as the main coolant in freezer units.
Nowadays, the modern freezer uses 1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane which does not deplete the ozone layer or cause toxic poisoning and is considered as safe for use in the home. Most freezers store food at -18 degrees Celsius and it is at this temperature that food will remain safe and viable for consumption indefinitely. Some freezers can go as low as -34 degrees Celsius. Most modern domestic freezers can come as a standalone unit or combined with a refrigerator. Freestanding single freezer units can resemble a fridge or come in the original design of the chest.
The freezer has come a long way over the last 100 years and has moved from being an industrial machine to a domestic one. It has allowed people to become less wasteful as food that could previously not be stored for more than a few days can now be stored for as long as required. The invention of the freezer also changed the way that the world eats with the introduction of the frozen ready meal. The freezer may seem like an everyday item but it’s really quite a cool one.