Learn to make your very own pot-in-pot fridge with a few simple items

In a community or situation without electricity, storage of food long-term can be tricky. One simple solution is to build your own pot-in-pot fridge, using basic pots, sand and water. An idea revived by Mohammed Bah Abba, this refrigerator is now being used by many farmers in warm climates who need to preserve their food for a longer time and keep the insects away.

Keeping the sand moist all the time enables evaporation to cool the produce kept inside the inner pot. This enables the storage of freshly grown vegetables to last much longer than usual in a hot climate. It is also great for using at a picnic or outdoor meal where there is no electricity outside but food or drinks need to be kept cool. Here is how to make your own.


  1. One pot must be smaller than the other pot. Check that the smaller pot fits inside the larger and that there is a space around it of at least one centimetre, up to three centimetres.
  2. Use clay, large pebbles, cork, a homemade paste - anything suitable to hand to fill the hole. If you leave the holes open, the water will enter the inner pot and will also run out of the larger pot, making the fridge ineffective.[1]
    • Putty or duct tape can plug the hole.
  3. Fill about 2.5cm/1 inch deep, and only fill to a height that will ensure the smaller pot sits even in height with the larger pot.[2]
  4. Arrange its base flat on top of the lower layer of sand.
  5. Fill it almost all the way, except for leaving a small gap at the top.
  6. Do this until the sand is completely soaked and unable to take any more water. As you pour, do so gradually in order to give the water time to soak into the terracotta.[3]
  7. Place it over the top of the inner pot so that it covers it completely.[4]
    • Wet hessian or similar fabric also works well.
  8. If you have a thermometer, you can use this, otherwise test the temperature with your hands.
  9. [5]
  10. [6] You will need to keep checking regularly for the dampness of the sand. Pour in more water as it becomes drier to keep it well moistened. Usually this will need to be done twice a day.
    • You can add food or drinks to the pot-in-pot refrigerator if you're having an outdoor party or picnic. Make one for the drinks and one for the food if you have a lot of items.
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Community Q&A

  • Question
    Do I have to use clay pots or will PVC/metal cylinders work?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    You cannot use PVC or metal containers because they don't allow evaporation like clay pots do, which is the whole point of the device. Clay pots allow evaporative cooling to take place because they are permeable to air.
  • Question
    Does this pot system use a lid, or just the cloth?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    It can have an earthenware lid or a wet cloth, but both togther would be better to use.
  • Question
    As an artist, I can throw pots on a wheel; do they have to be that shape, or as long as they fit together and have a lip will it work?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Shape of the pots does not matter. But inner pot with small mouth covered with clay lid works tremendously well.


  • Do not use glazed earthenware; only unglazed.
  • Evaporative cooling works most effectively in dry heat and this pot-in-pot refrigerator is no different. In high humidity, you will find that this solution does not work.

Things You'll Need

  • Two clay (terracotta) pots, unglazed, one larger than the other
  • Sand
  • Water
  • Cloth to cover the pots
  • Clay, cork or other material to plug holes in the pots if they have them

About This Article

wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 28 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. This article has been viewed 415,348 times.
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Co-authors: 28
Updated: October 2, 2023
Views: 415,348