How to Defrost a Freezer Fast
No one wants to defrost the freezer but sometimes it’s got to be done.
While newer frost free models are great at helping us avoiding this tedious chore, they are a factor in freezer burn.
The way auto-defrost freezers work is to raise the temperature so that any ice build up melts - only problem is that means your food can start to thaw and refreeze too.
So, if you want to get the maximum benefits from your freezer you are better off with a manual defrost model.
The key to avoiding defrosting time is having a good seal on the door. This keeps moisture out of the freezer, because moisture that gets into the freezer turns solid, forming ice on the walls and shelves. Exactly the stuff we have to melt and get rid of.
I’ve become quite an expert at defrosting the freezer after living in an apartment with a bar fridge. The freezer inside the fridge did not seal because that freezer was the cooling unit for the whole fridge. If I tried to freeze ground beef the milk in the fridge went bad.
In two months time it would look like a frozen cavern, with frost built up so thick we'd scrap our knuckles reaching for the ice cube tray. So, once a month we had to defrost that freezer just so we could keep ice cubes in it without bloody knuckles.
Hopefully what I've learned will save you some time.
Steps to Defrost Freezer
If it’s a cold winter day put the food outside, where no wildlife can get to it. This is a great time to take inventory of what you have.
If your thawing a unit inside of a fridge then remove the food from the fridge too. If your fridge has a different door and separate controls allowing you to turn off the freezer while leaving the fridge running it’s safe to leave food in the fridge.
Turn Off Power
Get Towels and a Bucket
Use the bucket to ring the towels. Or if you have a lot of ice melting grab a clean mop too.
I use the mop to keep the floor around the freezer dry and rags to sop up the water on the bottom shelf.
If your unit has a tray under it, as commonly found in older refrigerators with freezers on top, make sure to keep emptying the tray as the ice melts. Dump it in the bucket or in the sink.
I know many freezers have drain plugs, but if it's not plumbed to a drain it's not gonna help you.
Hurry Up and Wait
Help It Along
Hot Water Method
I personally hate the hot water method of defrosting the freezer. I find that the ice under the hot water melts first and the pan or bowl sticks to the ice as it cools off. It’s annoying to come back every 5 minutes and it doesn’t seem to help the ice melt that much faster.
However, you might not have a fan that you can angle properly and if your thawing a unit above a refrigerator it might not be worth the effort.
Blow Drier Defrosting Method
That said I’ll admit I’ve tried it. At first glance it doesn’t seem to do much. But what happens is the heat goes to the back and then up.
So after awhile the ice on the top will defrost away from the freezer, however with thick ice you most likely won’t see this. Instead large pieces of ice just start to break off the top.
In my experience this method along with the scrapper method and lots of towels is the fastest way to defrost the freezer.
There are two reasons for this. First you could hurt yourself. Second you can scrape or puncture the cabinet of your freezer. Well, it doesn’t sound like a big deal, puncturing the stuff behind the freezer cabinet could cause a leak and make your whole freezer useless. It’s not worth the risk.
A dull object, like a plastic spatula or spoon, works better. Think of it less as ‘scrapping’ and more as ‘assisting’ large chucks of ice to come out before they melt.
This method works well with the blow drier because as the ice starts to defrost off the wall or ceiling you can get the spatula under that and take out larger chunks.
And do not rub oil over your freezer like some sites suggest, because over time even at cold temperature that oil will go rancid.
Turn It On and Let It Cool
I would wait about an hour before adding food that is still frozen, longer for refrigerator temperature food.
Repack Frozen Foods in Good Condition
Put like items together so they are easy to find. There's a method to organizing your freezer contents.
While we are on the topic there is a myth I would like to dispel.
Myth: Frost in a freezer contributes to freezer burn on your food.
Truth: Frost in the freezer usually means there is an air leak. However, foods that are properly wrapped in moisture-vapor proof freezer materials will not develop freezer burn simply because the freezer doesn’t seal properly.
While repacking the freezer I highly suggest you add every item to your freezer inventory sheet. This way you know exactly what is in there.
You can get a free printable freezer inventory sheet as a gift when you sign up for the Favorite Freezer Foods Ezine, a newsletter full of tips and tricks about freezer cooking.