The Anti-Kettle
August 17, 2010 2:21 AM   Subscribe

Why can't I buy the opposite of a kettle? Why aren't they commonplace?

I'd like something that will chill a liquid really fast so that I don't have to have a giant fridge.

I'm not looking for a freezer (which is the slow opposite of an oven), but the opposite of a kettle. No ice, no "non-melting ice" alternatives, and not that Australian contraption which spins a can around in ice, but an actual anti-kettle.

Does such a thing exist?
posted by devnull to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: An ice cream maker will do this. You can either go cheap - where you freeze the bowl yourself - or expensive, where a cooling element is built in.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:28 AM on August 17, 2010

Best answer: Wort chiller?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:30 AM on August 17, 2010

Best answer: Not sure about off-the-shelf solutions, but how about a DIY project involving peltiers?
posted by TrinsicWS at 2:32 AM on August 17, 2010

I've seen devices like this, which is an electrically-powered pad you put a mug or glass on top of which cools it. Never got to try one myself, though.
posted by XMLicious at 2:39 AM on August 17, 2010

Because heating stuff fast is easy - you just dump lots of energy into the system.

The inverse -- taking energy out of the system -- gets progressively harder as temperature drops, as it requires collecting the energy randomly distributed among the molecules in your system and somehow moving it out. You can't really do that without a cold reservoir to dump heat into, either in the form of a coolant (say ice, or liquid nitrogen) or by using a thermal engine to promote heat to a higher temperature and then dumping it out (like your refrigerator does). This kind of technology doesn't scale well to the kettle level.

It might be possible to do what you want based on Peltier cooling, but I'm guessing the cost would be prohibitive for kettle-type applications.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:47 AM on August 17, 2010 [18 favorites]

(By the way, I am a totally serious and responsible person and would never fool around with hazardous substances, but I hear Liquid Nitrogen works wonders for emergency beverage chilling)
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:50 AM on August 17, 2010

There's an anti-griddle.

T'ain't cheap, though.
posted by SansPoint at 3:01 AM on August 17, 2010

I'm sure there was a MythBusters segment on this. I think they worked out that a CO2 fire extinguisher would do the job, as would bathing your cans in salted ice water? Ah yes, I thought so.
posted by gaby at 3:50 AM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: They definitely exist, but mostly in the context of wine. How about this from Home Depot for instance?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:40 AM on August 17, 2010

You could always use a jet engine.
posted by Johnny Assay at 4:48 AM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cooper Cooler
posted by monkey.pie.baker at 5:58 AM on August 17, 2010

Ooops, that one is ice-based. Sorry.
posted by monkey.pie.baker at 6:00 AM on August 17, 2010

Stating the obvious, you do realize that your kettle is part of a system that includes a stove top the size of 1/2 a refrigerator? It doesn't act alone. An energy source is required.

If you are going to cool something, you'll need to sink (as opposed to source) the energy equivalent of the mass involved times the temperature change. That energy has to come from somewhere.

A Peltier cooler can be sized to do it, but it's expensive in energy and cost terms.

The best alternative is a pre-cooled reservoir of some material, sized to provide the negative temperature change your mass will need.

I like the ice cream maker muffinman suggests, but it's predicated on having adequate thermal capacity. Regarding liquid nitrogen, be careful. It's as dangerous as burning gasoline, but in the opposite direction. Don't think cold won't injure you. Blindness or amputation happens PDQ.
posted by FauxScot at 6:51 AM on August 17, 2010

you do realize that your kettle is part of a system that includes a stove top the size of 1/2 a refrigerator?

I don't know whether the OP was referring to an electric kettle or a stovetop kettle, but electric kettles with a built-in heating element do exist, and they aren't expensive. But for the reasons others have stated, it's hard to have a similarly cheap and easy device do the opposite.
posted by willbaude at 7:06 AM on August 17, 2010

FauxScot: Stating the obvious, you do realize that your kettle is part of a system that includes a stove top the size of 1/2 a refrigerator? It doesn't act alone. An energy source is required.

Electric kettles don't require stoves.

Dr.Dracator makes a good point. Heating water in a kettle involves the addition of thermal energy, usually converted from electrical or chemical energy. Cooling water (or anything else) involves the transport of thermal energy, which is a bit trickier to do.

That evacuated thermal energy has to go somewhere. Also, the waste energy of the process has to go somewhere. That's why your fridge blows hot air. It is also why you won't cool a room by leaving the fridge door open, unless the back of the fridge or the fridge condenser coils evacuate heat outside the room the way an air conditioner does.

It's relatively straightforward in the range of final temperatures you're likely to be interested in, say 0-20 degrees C. These "anti-kettle" coolers exist although I think there's a lack-of-demand due to high price, partially caused by lack-of-demand situation.

tl;dr: Converting electrical or chemical energy to thermal energy (heating) is "easier" than transporting energy for cooling.
posted by KevCed at 7:12 AM on August 17, 2010

I meant to add that the waste heat ends up in the ambient environment. That can induce a large temperature change of a small amount of air, or a small temperature change in a large amount of air. The former relies on natural convection (like a room radiator) while the latter would require a fan. You could evacuate the heat into a high heat capacity medium like water, which is what the wort chiller Blazecock links to does. In that case the anti-kettle has to have plumbing.

You can see that moving thermal energy around is more involved than converting other forms of energy to thermal energy.

The trade-offs and penalties of this energy transport/conversion are the business of thermodynamics, which I've always thought was an overly intimidating name for this kind of discussion.
posted by KevCed at 7:17 AM on August 17, 2010

Best answer: It's easy (though relatively expensive capital wise) to remove heat from a system to create an anti- kettle. Every 7-11 has a bank of anti kettles in the form of slurpee machines and drink fountains and ice machines. The problem is preventing the product you are cooling from freezing at the product device interface (or not in the case of ice machines) which introduces size and complexity. If it does then the frozen product acts as an insulator, even in thin films, and further cooling is greatly retarded. A kettle doesn't have this problem; heated product naturally flows away from the heat source to be replaced with cooler product.

Slurpee machines get around this by having a large resivour that is stirred with a paddle. Drink fountains (and the water chiller in your fridge) have either a large chilled plate for the product to run through, or a long length of chilled tubing for the product to run though.

Finally anyone who is old enough can remember chest type drink coolers in corner stores that were filled with chilled water. Pop, in glass bottles, would cool to drinkable temperature within minutes of being loaded. That large cold resivour could really suck the heat out of a case of pop.
posted by Mitheral at 8:05 AM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wine chillers, too.
posted by carlh at 7:24 PM on August 17, 2010

I think you're looking for a cooling carafe that has a cooling coaster. I saw one yesterday at a restaurant supply store here in Canada for $90.
posted by KathyK at 6:32 AM on August 19, 2010

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