Do you ever find yourself wondering if your freezer is cold enough? If it is too cold, can it damage your food? This detailed guide will explore everything you need to know about the ideal freezer temperature and how to store your food properly.
We’ll also discuss common myths about freezer temperatures and provide helpful tips for keeping your food fresh.
Can A Freezer Be Too Cold?
Your freezer can get too cold. If the temperature inside your freezer dips below 0° Fahrenheit, it can affect the quality of your food. Colder temperatures can also cause freezer burn and make your food more susceptible to spoilage. Freezers are designed to operate at sub-zero temperatures, typically around 0°F (-18°C).
However, if the freezer is set too cold, it can cause certain items to freeze or become damaged. For example, ice cream stored at too cold temperatures will become hard and difficult to scoop. In addition, frozen meat stored at an extra low temperature can become freezer burned or, worse, unsafe for consumption.
Additionally, extremely cold temperatures can cause the seals on your freezer door to break down, resulting in warm air entering the freezer and causing the food inside to thaw. Therefore, you must set your freezer to the recommended temperature to prevent food from becoming damaged.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, frozen food will be safe to eat indefinitely if it remains at a constant temperature of 0°F or below. However, the food quality will suffer after a certain period if the temperature is too low. After about two years, most frozen foods will begin to show signs of freezer burn and become unsafe for consumption.
How Do I Know If My Freezer Is Too Cold?
If your freezer is showing any of these symptoms, know that it’s too cold:
- Ice Buildup on Food: Extra ice buildup is perhaps the most obvious sign that your freezer is too cold. If you notice ice buildup on your frozen food, it’s a good indication that the temperature is too low.
- Frost Condenser Coils: Another way to tell if your freezer is too cold is to check the condenser coils. These coils are located on the back or bottom of the freezer and are responsible for refrigerant circulation in the freezer. If they’re covered in frost, you should increase the freezer’s temperature because now, your condenser coils won’t be able to move the coolant properly, and there will be extra condensation.
- Hard to Scoop Ice Cream: If your ice cream is harder to scoop than usual, check your freezer’s temperature setting because it’s likely set at a too cold level. Likewise, if your beverage bottles and tin cans are frozen, it’s time to check your freezer’s thermostat.
- Frozen Vegetables Feeling Mushy: If your frozen vegetables are starting to get mushy and taste feels bland, they’re frozen more than needed, and you must re-adjust the freezer’s temperature accordingly. Although you won’t feel this sign with frozen meat and poultry, your green veggies and beans will clearly tell that they’re extra cold.
- High Electricity Bill: If you notice a spike in your energy bill and nothing else seems to be contributing, it could be due to your freezer working overtime to keep things cold.
What Temperature Is Too Cold For A Freezer?
For most food items, a freezer should be kept at 0° F (-18° C). But if you’re storing sensitive items that freezing temperatures can damage, you may want to keep your freezer closer to 32° F (0° C).
When the temperature outside is below freezing, most people expect their freezer to work overtime. But what many don’t realize is that if the temperature in your freezer drops below -18C, it can start to damage your food.
Frozen food relies on a delicate balance of ice and water molecules, and at extremely cold temperatures, this balance can be disrupted. Ice crystals can form on the surface of food, causing it to become dry and flavorless. In addition, cold temperatures can cause cell walls to break down, resulting in a mushy texture. So while it’s tempting to crank up the dial when the mercury starts to plummet, doing so could cost you both money and quality.
Why Is My Freezer Too Cold?
The temperature is too low if you notice more than usual ice buildup in your freezer or can’t scoop your favorite ice cream. But why does this happen? If you’re stuck at this point, here are the main reasons to look out for:
- Thermostat set too low
If your freezer’s thermostat is set too low, it will get extra cold. This can have several impacts on your food, i.e., it can cause ice crystals to form outside of frozen foods. These crystals can damage the cell walls of the food, causing it to lose flavor and texture.
In addition, ice crystals can make it difficult for the food to thaw evenly, leading to the growth of harmful bacteria. Likewise, the extra cold temperatures can damage the structure of delicate foods, such as cakes and cookies.
- Freezer overloaded
If your freezer is overloaded or over-stacked, it might get extra cold. The compressor has to work harder to circulate the Freon throughout the coils when the freezer is full. A heavy load in the freezer will cause the compressor to cycle on more often and run for longer periods. Consequently, this will put extra strain on the compressor and decrease its lifespan.
In addition, a full freezer will retain cold air better than an empty one, so your food will stay colder and require less energy to maintain its temperature. So if you want to save money on your energy bill, and prolong the life of your freezer, make sure not to overload it.
- The evaporator coils are frosted over
If your freezer’s evaporator coils are covered in ice or frost, it could also cause the appliance to get extra cold. The coils need to be clear so that heat can transfer from them to the air in the freezer, but when they’re covered in ice, it will take longer for them to transfer heat, and the freezer will stay colder longer
In addition, if the coils are completely covered in ice, it could cause the compressor to overheat and shut off. That’s why you should check if your freezer’s evaporator coils are clear and free of ice when it feels extra cold. If they are not, you should contact a professional to have them cleaned or replaced.
How Do You Fix A Freezer That Is Too Cold?
Now that we know what causes your freezer to get extra cold, it’s time to remedy this problem. If everything else seems fine with your freezer and only the extra cold is irking you, follow these methods to overcome this issue:
Check if the freezer is too full
Too much food in the freezer can block cold air from circulating properly, causing the temperature to rise. Most people don’t realize that an overstuffed freezer is less efficient than only a half-full one.
The more food you have crammed into your freezer, the harder it has to work to maintain a consistent temperature. As a result, your freezer will use more energy, and your electric bills will go up. In addition, an overloaded freezer is more likely to experience mechanical problems.
So if your freezer is feeling extra cold, look inside and see if it’s overloaded with food. Reducing the amount of food you’re storing can help your appliance run more efficiently and save money in the long run.
Check the evaporator coils
When a freezer feels extra cold, it may be due to the coils being iced over. This is a problem because the coils must be exposed to dissipate heat. If the coils are iced over, they can prevent cold air from circulating properly. As a result, the freezer will have to work harder to cool down, using more energy and driving up your utility bills.
Additionally, ice on the coils can cause the freezer to cycle on and off more frequently, shortening its lifespan. To fix this issue, remove the ice with a brush or blow dryer. Taking this simple step can help prevent extra cooling and save you money in the long run.
Check the thermostat
A freezer should ideally be kept between 0°F and 5°F to maintain food safety. If your freezer feels extra cold, it may be set below this range. Check the thermostat to see if it needs to be re-adjusted. Resetting the thermostat can help prevent extra cooling and reduce energy waste.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, setting your fridge too cold can increase energy use by up to 25%. So, if you’re looking to save energy and money, it’s worth checking your freezer’s thermostat from time to time.
Clean the condenser coils
If your freezer is feeling extra cold, one of the first things you should check is the condition of the condenser coils. These coils are responsible for releasing heat, and if they become dirty, they won’t be able to work properly. As a result, your freezer will have to work overtime to release the extra heat, leading to higher energy bills and extra wear and tear on the appliance.
To prevent this from happening, be sure to clean your condenser coils regularly. This simple maintenance task can save money and help your freezer run more efficiently.
What Number Should A Freezer Be Set On?
Most experts agree that the optimal freezer temperature is between 0 and -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Most food will stay fresh for 2-3 months at this temperature. The average American family purchases about $600 worth of groceries per month, so a properly functioning freezer can save you quite a bit of money by preventing food waste.
Of course, some foods will last longer than others. Meat and poultry can typically be stored for 6-12 months, while fish only last for 3-6 months. And while some people like to keep their freezer even colder (-20 degrees Fahrenheit), doing so isn’t necessary and can cause some foods to dry out. So if you’re looking to save money and reduce food waste, keep your freezer between 0 and -10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Here’s a quick list of ideal freezer temperature levels for our everyday food items:
|01.||Poultry||-18°C or lower|
|02.||Ground meat||-18°C or lower|
|03.||Seafood||-20°C or lower|
|04.||Precooked meats||17°C or lower|
|05.||Leftovers and casseroles||-17°C or lower|
|06.||Fruit||-18°C or lower|
|07.||Vegetables||-18°C or lower|
|08.||Egg whites||-20°C or lower|
|09.||Egg yolks||-19°C or lower|
|10.||Cooked egg dishes||-17°C or lower|
|11.||Cream and dairy products||-20°C or lower|
|12.||Butter||-20°C or lower|
|13.||Jams and jellies||-20°C or lower|
|14.||Syrups||-20°C or lower|
A frosty freezer is one of the many joys of summertime, but an overly cold freezer can be a sign of a bigger problem. If your freezer has been feeling too cold lately, something with its condenser coils, thermostat, or evaporator might be wrong. Since maintaining the optimal freezer temperature is crucial for your food items’ safety, it’s best not to let your freezer get extra chilly. Remember the temperature guidelines we have shared and follow the above-listed savvy tips to keep your freezer running well. Good luck!