What’s the most efficient way to cool a drink?

Nothing’s better than a cold drink. But how long does it actually take to cool your favourite drink? And what’s the most efficient way to cool a drink? I’ve conducted a scientific experiment to find the answer.

The methodology 

The tests were conducted with a 0.33-litre can and a 1.5-litre bottle, each full of water with a thermocouple in the middle. Both can and bottle were 21°C at the start of each test. The cooling mediums tested were a tap water bath (8°C), snow (-2°C), freezer (-20°C), fridge (4°C) and ice bath (0°C). 

Ice bath

Tap water bath




Tip 1: Reduce the waiting time by easy shaking the can or bottle at regular intervals. Temperature is then more efficiently distributed. 

Tip 2: Snow melts, so be sure to add fresh snow a couple of times during the cooling time. 

Tip 3: if you do not have snow or ice bath available, cool 15 minutes in a water bath (until 9°C is reached), before putting it in the freezer. 

Tip 4: The temperature in fridges often varies by multiple degrees from hour to hour. You can check the temperature in your fridge by putting an meat thermometer in a full glass of water and leaving it in the fridge overnight. 

Kristian Solheim Thinn in his kitchen.
Kristian Solheim Thinn in his kitchen.

The results 

The best method to cool a drink depends on how cold you want your drink to be. A 0.33-litre can in a water bath from the tap will be cooled to 9°C in 15 minutes. In an ice bath, waiting time is just 5 minutes. This is the serving temperature for Bayer and pale ale. 

If you prefer slightly colder drinks, 5°C is reached in only 10 minutes when placed in an ice bath. This is excellent for sparkling water, soft drinks and lagers. Snow and freezer are good alternative, but the cooling time increases to 30 minutes and 1 hour, respectively. 

If you only have your fridge, you need to start early. It takes 2.5 hours to reach 9°C and 10 hours to reach 5°C.

If you only have your fridge, you need to start early. It takes 2.5 hours to reach 9°C and 10 hours to reach 5°C.

Cool a drink in a 0.33-litre can:

  • Ice bath: 5°C after just 10 minutes. 
  • Tap water bath: 9°C after 15 minutes. 
  • Snow: 5°C after 30 minutes. 
  • Freezer: 5°C after 1 hour. 
  • Fridge: 5°C after 10 hours, 9°C after 2.5 hours 

Cool a drink in a 1.5-litre bottle:

  • Ice bath: 5°C after 20-25 minutes 
  • Tap water bath: 9°C after 30 minutes. 
  • Snow: 5°C after 45 minutes. 
  • Freezer: 5°C after 1.5 hours. 
  • Fridge: 5°C after 10 hours, 9°C after 5 hours. 


Temperature in cables

Monitoring temperature isn’t just useful for refreshing drinks. At SINTEF, I research electric power components, including temperature inside cables.

In power cables, the temperature acts as a limitation on how much energy can be transferred through them. Most often, 90°C is used as the limit in order to avoid excessive aging of the insulation. Until recently, most cables were operated blindly, as how can anyone know what the temperature is inside cables that are several kilometres long, under the ground?

temperature in cable

The most elegant solution is to use optical fibers, which are often used in the newer power cables. The technology is called distributed temperature sensing (DTS), and is a useful tool for power cable owners. When using fibre, the temperature is measured every metre in real time.

In the example, the bottleneck is where the power cable is under a road. If you know the temperature, you know how much power it can transfer. This knowledge can save power utilities large sums of money in unnecessary investments, which in the long run can result in lower network charges for you and me.

Read more about SINTEF Energy Lab, where we test components for the future energy system.

First published in 22. December 2022, revised and updated 19. December 2023.