Have you ever left a bottle of alcohol in the back of your freezer and forgotten it? After asking "does alcohol expire", you may be asking, does alcohol freeze? Well, odds are that alcohol is fine, and you can pull it out and pour yourself a delicious glass.
However, that doesn't mean alcohol can't freeze at all, just that it has a much lower freezing point than your freezer or chiller. Temperatures also vary based on liquor bottle sizes and the different types of alcohol used.
Read on to learn what temperature alcohol freezes, how to calculate the temperature yourself, and what chemicals keep your alcohol in liquid form.
What Temperature Does Alcohol Freeze?
The freezing point of pure alcohol, or ethanol, is -173 °F. However, you won't be stocking pure ethanol in your bar or home bar, so it gets a bit complicated. In general, the lower the proof or wine alcohol content, the higher the freezing point. To determine what temperature your particular bottle will freeze at, you need to know the amount of pure alcohol in it.
Here are the most common types of alcohol and their freezing points:
- Beer. Beer can have an ABV anywhere between 3% and 12%, but on average you can expect beer to freeze at about 28 °F. Even if you find yourself asking "does beer expire?" it really should not be stored in a freezer for any extended length of time. Beer in a freezer can not only freeze and ruin the quality of the beer, it may even explode causing a bigger headache. You really should invest in different keg sizes for your bar or do forecasting to limit your excess inventory and avoid the issue in the first place.
- Wine. Wine tends to have a slightly higher ABV than beer, so the freezing point is lower. But, if you're asking "does wine freeze" the answer is most certainly yes. Wine freezes at an average of 23 °F. In action, this means a standard 750mL bottle of wine will freeze solid after about 5 hours in a freezer. However, there are different wine bottle sizes, so your experience may vary.
- 40-proof liquor. Low-proof liquors like Irish cream are only slightly more cold-resistant than wine. These spirits will freeze around 22 °F and are the most likely alcohol to suffer issues in a freezer. If left for too long, these liquors can develop a slushy-like texture and the chemical makeup will forever be altered. This means the liquor will still taste off when thawed.
- 64-proof liquor. Mid-range liquors like Bacardi Razz or Fireball fall in this category and will freeze around -10 °F. If you happen to have a handle of liquor in this range lying around, you can toss it in the freezer with little worry. However, you'll still want to keep an eye on the expiration date as even the cold cannot stave off oxidation forever.
- 80-proof liquor. The most common proof for hard liquor, 80-proof bottles will not freeze unless they are subjected to temperatures of -17 °F or below. This is why so many people think alcohol can't freeze because their conventional freezer doesn't get this cold.
Why Does Alcohol Not Freeze?
Alcohol does freeze, but the temperatures required are so low it is unlikely to happen in a conventional freezer. The reason it isn't freezing is the ethanol present throughout has such a low freezing point that the bottle never gets cold enough to freeze. This varies by alcohol content, though. Beer, wine, and low-proof liquor can all freeze in a standard freezer given enough time.
To make it easier to understand, think of ethanol in alcohol as you would in gasoline. In nearly all habitable areas, you rarely run into an issue with gasoline freezing. This is because the purity of the ethanol lowers the freezing point dramatically. Now, imagine if you balance that ethanol with other components like flavoring, sugar in wine, and more. The temperature slowly gets higher as you add more ingredients, just like in the various liquors you buy when stocking a bar.
What Percentage Alcohol Does Not Freeze?
All alcohol will freeze at a cold enough temperature, but any proof higher than 50 will not freeze in a conventional freezer. This covers the majority of harder spirits you may buy, but beer, wine, and liqueurs will certainly freeze with enough time.
Here's a handy chart of the freezing point for different percentages of alcohol:
Frequently Asked Questions About Whether or Not Alcohol Freezes
If you own a freezer and alcohol the two have probably spent some time together. The alcohol may have come out fine or slushy, but you mostly end up with questions.
To help demystify the way cold and alcohol interact, we pulled together some of the most frequently asked questions about alcohol freezing. Take a look at the questions with our answers below:
Is It True That Alcohol Does Not Freeze?
No, it is not true that alcohol does not freeze. All alcohol can freeze if the temperature is low enough, but most hard liquors can be stored in a freezer with no trouble.
Does Jack Daniels Freeze In The Freezer?
No, Jack Daniels will not likely freeze in a freezer. Since a bottle of Jack Daniels is 70 proof, your freezer would have to be set to below 0°F for the bottle to freeze. However, you should still make sure to keep it from being stored there for an extended length of time.
Why Did My Vodka Freeze?
If vodka freezes, the temperatures of your freezer are far too low or the ABV of the vodka is below 64 proof. Most vodka will become cloudy in the freezer and thicken, but not freeze. This is a phenomenon called freezing point depression and can be rectified by thawing the vodka.
Freeze the Day
Contrary to popular belief, alcohol can freeze. However, if your preferred alcohol is 50 proof or higher, you can feel free to toss it in the freezer with little worry.
If you're freezing alcohol intentionally to avoid expiration, we recommend using a bar inventory template or having an inventory management system in place, like BinWise Pro. It's an all-in-one inventory management system that helps you manage your wine program more effectively and successfully. It keeps track of every bottle’s expiration dates and shelf time. The system will alert you when a bottle is about to pass its drink-by date, so you never waste your inventory again. Contact us to learn more about BinWise Pro and how it can help your bar.