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Prepper’s Guide To Making Ice Without a Freezer

From preserving food and helping with first aid, ice is invaluable. First-world societies though take ice for granted. But, what happens if a long-term power outage occurs? How will you get ice then?  I am not going to lie if it is summer, or you live in a tropical or otherwise hot environment, it will not be easy to gather ice without power. So, if that’s the case you will either need to learn to do without ice or find an alternative way to make ice. One such way to do this is to make ice from fertilizer.

Article Organization-First I will skip the nerdy stuff and get straight to the chase and tell you the ingredients and simple instructions on how an aluminum nitrate base fertilizer can make ice. Also, getting ammonium nitrate-based fertilizer can be difficult. But, the policies and history behind this fertilizer are not the main points of this article. So, ammonium nitrate and why it is heavily regulated will be dealt with in the appendix.

How To Make Ice From Fertilizer

Ingredient List

  • Water
  • Aluminum Nitrate Fertilizer-This fertilizer can be recognized by the 34-0-0 numbers.
  • Bucket/Large Bowl
  • Small Metal Bowl-(METAL, for heat conduction reasons, is mandatory) It needs to be small enough to fit inside the larger bowl.


  1. Fill It– Fill, the smaller bowl with water halfway.
  2. Mix It Up-Using the larger bucket, mix equal parts of water, until the fertilizer is dissolved.
  3. Place The Bowls-Place the water-filled, smaller metal bucket, inside the large bowl.
  4. Wait-Wait for it to freeze. It can take several hours to freeze. So, it is best to set a timer and check on it every couple or so hours.

Final Thoughts

The few ingredient and simple instructions are all that is needed to make ice out of fertilizer. You should note though that it will take hours to make ice this way. So, the fertilizer into ice is not an ideal situation and not useful for when you need it ASAP. Also, as will be explained more in the appendix, ammonium nitrate fertilizer, is regulated by the feds, which means that it can be both hard to and a hassle to get.

So, with the above limitations, ammonium nitrate ice should not be your main source. However, if you remember the above limitations, this fertilizer ice can be an effective substitute in an emergency situation.


Ammonium Nitrate

Ammonium nitrate is a synthetic fertilizer (organic fertilizer is the other type of fertilizer that is natural, I.e., Mulch, Manure, Bonemeal, etc.) which means, that it is made by humans. It can be recognized by its distinctive white crystals.

Ammonium Nitrate Fertilizer is made of 34 percent nitrogen and can be recognized by an NPK label* of 34-0-0. It is often compared to many over Urea, which is rated at 46-0-0. However, as it is more stable, it is preferred by many over rea.

NPK is an aconynm that is seen on fertilizer labels. It stands for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.


Ammonium Nitrate by itself is stable. However, like kindling for a campfire, it can definitely accelerate a fire, and in large quantities, or if it is chopped up finely, an explosion may occur. The fire acceleration properties of this chemical are so fierce that ammonium nitrate, along with other chemicals, is used to make explosives for the mining industry.

Why Is Ammonium Nitrate Regulated By The US Federal Government?

Ammonium Nitrate was introduced in the 1940s and was used in diverse industries ranging from plant food, Insecticides, mining and even tanning leather hides. However, as stated, above, ammonium nitrate, when combined with other chemicals can be made into a bomb. This isn’t necessarily bad or good, as a chemist can combine many chemicals, that are harmless alone, into dangerous properties. However, ammonium fertilizer is of interest to the federal US Government as it was used in a domestic terrorism bombing, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

April 19, 1995, Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, Oklahoma City Bombing

1995 Oklahoma City Bombing

The aftermath of the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing

To help understand why the ammonium nitrate chemical is regulated it is helpful to known the history of 1995, Oklahoma City bombing, that was conducted by Timothy Mcveigh. Timothy Mcveigh, a former Army vet, parked a rented Ryder truck, containing a bomb that was made from ammonium nitrate fertilizer, diesel fuel, and other volatile chemicals. The Oklahoma City Bombing killed over 168 people. What was especially tragic was that the targeted building contained a daycare center, which resulted in 19 children being killed. (Mcveigh considered the 19 children killed as collateral damage) Mcveigh’s motive for this horrific crime was the Ruby Ridge incident and Waco matter and David Koresh that occurred in 1992. In 2001, Mcveigh was executed for this horrific crime.

What Does Ammonium Nitrate Have To Do With Oklahoma City Bombing?

An ammonium nitrate-based fertilizer was one ingredient that Mcveigh used to make his homemade bomb, which resulted in the ammonium nitrate chemical being regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“AFT”), under the following law. To clarify, the ATF regulates the chemical itself and not the fertilizer.

The Department of Homeland Security has also given authority to regulate, ammonium nitrate. Currently, fertilizer companies, along with the ATF, have also had voluntarily entered into a program requiring buyers to be identified and tracked.

What Does This Mean To You?

This means two things: paperwork and access. You might be required to fill out paperwork, which may be sent to the feds when buying this fertilizer. Also, it can be hard to acquire this type of plant food.

You should not have much to worry about if you only purchase an ordinary amount of fertilizer. What is reasonable is likely a judgment call. But, it is likely based upon if you have a corporate farm, two-acre homestead, or a small garden or no garden at all. This means that you should use this ice trick only as a last result and, if needed, get regular ice, asap.

Be Sure To Only Get Ammonium Nitrate

Ammonium sulfate is not the same as ammonium nitrate. So, if you are wanting to try this ice-making hack in this article do not purchase ammonium sulfate or you will be setting yourself up for disappointment.

 Ammonium Sulfate Fertilizer


Where Can You Buy Ammonium Nitrate Fertilizer?

As it is regulated, ammonium nitrate fertilizer can only be purchased at specialized farm stores. So, aluminum nitrate, for the average person, cannot be purchased online at Amazon, Walmart, or to the best of my knowledge, at any other legitimate company.