Chilling Alcohol: Is It Safe To Put Your Liquor In The Freezer?

Informational

Liquor letter dices

If your goal is to keep your liquor as cold as possible while drinking, you may have thought about freezing it. But the question is: Does alcohol freeze? Is it safe to keep it outside on a cold winter night?

The answer to this question depends on what type of alcohol you're talking about. Liquor won't freeze, but beer and wine might just be able to do so at lower freezing points than other types - it's not always guaranteed, though!

A bottle of vodka, for example, may survive a night in the freezer intact, but a case of wine coolers may end up a sticky, slushy mess.

Different alcohols have different freezing points, which may vary depending on what it is mixed with and the container it's in. You cannot put a margarita and a gin martini in the freezer together and expect them to taste the same.

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Alcohol's Freezing Points

Pure ethanol alcohol freezes at -173 °F (-114 °C), while water freezes at 32 °F (0 °C). Because alcoholic beverages contain both alcohol and water (as well as sugars and other additions in some circumstances), their freezing point falls midway between the two liquids.

Any beer, liquor, or wine's exact freezing point is determined by its alcohol by volume (ABV, or proof):

The lower the alcohol concentration, the higher the freezing point and the faster it will freeze.

The warmer the freezing point and the longer it can be left in the freezer, the higher the alcohol concentration.

Freezing Temperatures

Thermometer in ice

The amount of alcohol in beer and wine is relatively modest, with the rest of the volume made up of water and solutes (salts, sugars, etc.). Beer and wine can freeze in your home freezer because they are primarily, but not entirely, water.

Beer and wine do not freeze as "solid" like water in your home freezer. So while you can make ice cubes out of wine to store leftovers, transferring those wine cubes to a zip-top bag for longer-term freezer preservation may result in a sludgy mess in the bag.

Hard liquors, on the other hand, such as vodka, do not freeze in a typical home freezer. When you store them in the freezer, they may appear slightly thicker.

Minor differences in alcohol freeze percentage won't make a significant difference, but if it's near, there's a good possibility it'll freeze. Here are the freezing alcohol and temperatures:

  • Beer

Freezing beer (with 3% to 12% ABV) at home can be tricky. The freezing point is typically 28 °F (-2 °C), but it's best to wait until your desired temperature drop below this range before dropping them in order not to damage the taste or integrity of what you have stored away for later use!

  • Wine

Wine has a freezing point of 23 °F (-5 °C) and an ABV from 8% to 14%. You can keep it in the freezer for less than an hour but not more than as you might put the wine at risk.

  • 40-Proof Liquor

With an ABV of 20% and a freezing point of 22 °F (-7 °C), low-proof liqueurs like Irish cream may get slushy, and freezing them can permanently change the texture.

  • 64-Proof Liquor

64-proof liquor (32% ABV) with a -10 °F (-23 °C) freezing point is OK to freeze. Liqueurs like amaretto and flavored whiskey Fireball fall into this range of alcohol content, so they're perfect for your next winter party!

  • 80-Proof Liquor

80% ABV and -17 °F (-27 °C) freezing point, 80-proof liquor such as gin, vodka, and whiskey are safe to freeze.

Note that these freezing values are approximate, especially for beer and wine. Use the temperatures as a guideline only, and don't exceed them.

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The Chemistry of Alcohol Freezing

Chemicals and beakers

The melting point of ethanol, the alcohol present in beer, wine, and liquors, is -173 °F (-114 °C). The melting point of ethanol is the temperature at which it transitions from solid to liquid.

To adequately keep food, most home freezers maintain temperatures between –9 °F and 0 °F (–23 °C and –18 °C). Because ethanol has a melting point of 0 °F (-18 °C), which is substantially warmer than 173 °F (–114 °C), you may safely store liquors in a home freezer at a temperature of 0 °F (-18 °C).

The Best Alcohol to Freeze

The average home freezer attached to a refrigerator has a temperature of 0 °F (-18 °C), which is cold enough to keep ice frozen but not cold enough to keep an 80-proof liquor bottle frozen. A chest freezer can get quite hard: 80-proof liquor may freeze, but 100-proof alcohol is unlikely.

It is usually okay to keep your favorite bottle of vodka in the freezer. And it’s a good idea to put that treasured limoncello (average 30% ABV) in the freezer for a few hours.

Here’s the list of alcoholic beverages that you can safely put in the freezer:

  • Whiskey
  • Sake
  • Gin
  • Rum
  • Tequila

The Worst Alcohol to Freeze

Liquor drinks that are proofed between 40 and 80 wouldn’t freeze at the normal temperatures of a home freezer. However, these alcoholic beverages will definitely freeze if you left them too long in the freezer:

  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Coolers
  • Cider 
  • Vodka

Why You Shouldn't Freeze Your Alcohol

Beer and wine have a lower alcohol content than liquors and will freeze. If you put a warm beer or white wine in the freezer for a quick chill, it will be ready to drink in no time. Just don't forget about it!

While the bottle's contents will not immediately freeze, the water will. This turns your drink into mush and can spoil the flavor. Frozen wine, for example, is probably best used in cooking rather than drinking.

More significantly, to maintain freshness and carbonation, beer and wine are bottled under pressure, and water expands as it freezes. Corks and caps may swell or rupture, the glass may break, and aluminum cans may explode if stored in the cold for too long. This causes a horrible mess that needs a thorough cleaning of your freezer.

Conclusion

When it comes to your favorite alcoholic drinks, there are two things you can always count on: ice and liquor. But what if I told you that the latter might not be as reliable? 

There are a few things you should know about storing your favorite drinks. Liquor, wine, and beer all have different storage needs, so it's important to research which one will work best for what you're putting into the container!

Which alcohol do you like frozen? Share it down below!

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