How-To:  Build your own IcyBall


The Crosley IcyBall (wikipedia) is a commercial early-twentieth century portable chemical refrigerator that runs without moving parts or electricity. Cooling is caused by the evaporation and re-adsorption of ammonia into a water-based solution, which is a spontaneous process that can be reversed by applying heat, as from a campfire. Authentic IcyBalls are valuable antiques, but Larry Hall has posted a cool write-up of the one he built for himself using gas pipe fittings.


6 thoughts on “How-To: Build your own IcyBall

  1. I think this should be tagged at dangerous, ammonia gas is highly toxic, small amounts are fatal. So I wouldnt try this!

  2. Larry, I just saw this in my latest Classic Car magazine in an article about Powel Crosley. I am very interested in making one that might work off the heat of a car exhaust. With a small fan on the cold bulb this might cool a small vehicle. i.e. the interior of my 1935 Ford P/U. Do you think this is feasible?

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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