June 24, 2024

Epileptic Power Supply Forces Ice Block Sellers to Turn to Freezing Chemicals


In the face of Nigeria’s persistent power supply issues, ice block sellers have been forced to adopt unconventional methods to sustain their businesses.


With electricity outages becoming a common occurrence, many vendors have turned to freezing chemicals to produce ice blocks, a crucial commodity for preserving food and cooling beverages.


The shift to chemical use highlights the severe impact of Nigeria’s unreliable power grid on small businesses. Mrs. Fausat Tijani, an ice block seller, revealed that she now relies on chemicals for her ice production. “Many ice block sellers do this but will never tell you the name of the chemical they use because it is business and meant to be personal,” she explained. She added, “When I started this business, electricity in this area was better but now, we hardly have light.”


This dire situation has led to the adoption of chemicals such as liquid nitrogen, salt, and water as freezing agents. Mrs. Tijani detailed her method: “I mix them properly and put my water for ice in nylons which I pour inside the mixture. Within 10 to 15 minutes the blocks of ice are formed and ready for sale.”


However, the use of these chemicals raises safety concerns. Mr. Emmanuel Peters, an air-conditioner and refrigerator repairer, acknowledged that chemical methods for making ice have been around for a while but warned about their potential dangers. “These chemicals are very harmful and not to be used in anything that goes to the stomach,” he said, listing agents like liquid nitrogen, hydrogen peroxide, and ammonia.

Despite these risks, the economic necessity drives the continued use of chemical freezing methods. Mrs. Opeyemi Mautin, a wholesale seller of soft drinks and bottled water, noted the practical differences between ice made with electricity and that made with chemicals. “The ice generated using electricity stays longer, up to two hours, but the one made with chemical doesn’t stay up to an hour,” she observed.

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