Putting Laptop in Freezer: Safe?

Here’s whether it’s safe to put your laptop in a freezer:

Putting a laptop in a freezer is a very bad idea.

Regardless of why you might be tempted to do this, the freezer is capable of completely destroying any laptop. 

The results will vary and depend on how long it stays in the freezer, but this voids warranties and annihilates laptops.

So if you want to learn all about what happens when you put your laptop inside a freezer, then this article is for you.

Keep reading!

Putting Laptop in Freezer: Bad? (Don't Do It & Alternatives)

Can a Freezer Help an Overheating Computer? (2 Things)

Man holding a laptop in front of refrigerator

The most common reason people think to put a laptop in a freezer is that the laptop is overheating.

It makes sense on a basic level.

The laptop is too hot.

Freezers are made to cool things down.

Why not let the freezer help the laptop work?

There are a few major issues with this line of reasoning.

First, the freezer is nowhere near as good at cooling off laptops as you might think. 

In general, a laptop will cool down at the same rate, whether it is in your freezer or sitting on your desk.

That’s hard to believe, but we’ll go through the physics together in a moment.

The other issue is that this practice is exceptionally dangerous for the laptop.

Later, you’ll see the ways that a freezer can destroy a laptop.

#1 How Heat Exchange Works

Woman with laptop and gloves sitting at home by the window.

It’s easy to think that cold air could help to cool your computer down a lot faster, but this isn’t really the case.

In order for your computer to cool off, it has to vent the heat through a heat exchange.

This basically means that it has to heat something else up in order to lose heat.

That’s what a heat exchange is.

To skip a lot of science, every material has its own thermal properties that determine how quickly it can exchange heat.

Thinking in terms of heat exchange properties, we can consider air.

Air trades heat very slowly when compared to other materials. 

In fact, air is known as one of the best thermal insulators in the business.

It’s why good insulating devices, like oven mitts, have a lot of air pockets in them.

The air does most of the insulating.

But cold air still cools things off faster, right?

Well, not really. 

Technically speaking, cold air is not quite as good an insulator as hot air, but this is because it is denser, not because it is cold.

More importantly, the difference in thermal conductivity between hot and cold air is pretty much negligible.

Cold air won’t cool off your computer faster by any significant amount because cold air is still a very good insulator.

It has a hard time exchanging heat with the computer, especially since the hot parts are deep inside the computer. 

The cool air of the freezer isn’t directly contacting the hot computer components.

Instead, cold freezer air has to cool off air inside of the computer.

Then, the air inside of the computer can cool off the hot components. 

It’s an incredibly inefficient process, and you’ll find that leaving your computer off in the living room cools it off at the same rate as putting it in the freezer.

#2 Better Ways to Cool Your Laptop

laptop on white desk at home workspace

Putting your laptop in the freezer doesn’t help it cool off quickly. But, there are things you can do that work quite well.

The first thing you want to do is turn off the laptop.

This is always the most important step. 

The computer is creating the heat that causes problems.

When you turn off the laptop, it stops creating heat.

From there, you can reasonably cool the computer down.

Also, it’s less likely to take damage from excess heat if it isn’t actively running.

Once the computer is off, you have plenty of options.

If possible, open it up. Most laptops have an access cover that can be removed. 

You don’t want to do this in general because it exposes the insides of the computer to dust and foreign objects.

But, if the computer is so hot that you’re considering putting it in the freezer, it’s reasonable to open up the device.

Air isn’t a great conductor of heat, but when you expose the hot parts to open air, you at least allow for a direct heat exchange instead of forcing air to cool down more air before it can cool down the computer.

Aside from cracking open the computer, you can use a better thermal conductor.

If the bottom of the laptop is noticeably hot, put it on a hard surface. 

If you have stone counters, those are ideal.

A porcelain bathtub works really well, too (but be extra careful about water). 

Really, you can think of any surface that you wouldn’t want to lay on if you were cold.

That’s probably a good surface for pulling heat out of the laptop.

If the laptop has a removable battery, pop that battery out.

The battery is a source of heat.

When you cool it separately from the rest of the computer, everything drops in temperature a little faster and more efficiently.

It also helps to put moving air across the computer. Air is an insulator, but moving air is less so. It’s why the wind feels so much colder than still air. 

So, turn on a fan and have the airflow across the computer.

If you can open the computer too, you’ll cool things down a lot faster.

Lastly, clean the vents.

This won’t help much at the moment, but clean vents work better and prevent the next overheating moment from occurring.

To clean the vents, use a bottle of compressed air and spray the dust out of them.

What Are Safe Temperatures For Your Laptop’s CPU?

Modern electric fan on table in office.

Are more than 80 degrees safe for your laptop?

How about more than 90 degrees?

Operating a consumer-grade CPU between 80 and 90 degrees Celsius is pushing the limits of safety. 

Depending on the model of the processor and the setup of the entire computer, the exact safe temperature threshold will vary. 

As a general rule, temperatures below 85 degrees Celsius are considered safe and sustainable.

Learn all about your Laptop’s CPU temperatures here.

What Does a Freezer Do to a Laptop? (2 Things)

Modern side by side stainless steel refrigerator freezer.

If the time is short enough, the freezer doesn’t really do anything.

You could put a hot laptop in a freezer for a couple of minutes, and nothing is going to happen. 

But, if the laptop stays in there too long, very bad things happen.

The safe rule is to never put a laptop in a freezer.

Even if you were only planning to leave it in there for a couple of minutes to help it cool off, it’s not a good idea.

First, the freezer won’t really cool it off quickly. 

Second, it’s too easy to forget it’s there and leave it in too long.

Third, your laptop isn’t exactly food-safe, so you don’t want it touching food you might eat later.

If that’s not compelling enough, here’s what you can expect to happen to your laptop while it chills in your freezer.

#1 Ice Crystals

ice crystals formed inside freezer

This is the scariest thing.

As you might already know, when water freezes, it expands.

If there is water in your computer (especially in the very small parts) when water freezes, it will expand, and it can break the very fine components that are super delicate.

Now, you might think that your computer is perfectly dry and has no water in it.

The problem is that your computer uses air to keep things cool under normal circumstances, and air has water in it. 

Even very dry air has some water, and that water is enough that it can completely destroy parts of your computer when it freezes.

Even if you let the computer warm back up and dry out, the damage Is already done.

The computer will never be the same again.

#2 Thermal Contraction

Young woman fixing snack in kitchen with laptop on the table.

This is where things physically shrink when they get cold.

It happens to all materials, but metals tend to shrink the most.

On the outside, it might look like your laptop is mostly plastic, but the insides are full of metal, and the components are very, very small.

If the core components in the laptop get cold enough, they will shrink to the point that the key circuits will no longer be touching.

This creates gaps in the circuits, and it means that electricity cannot flow through the computer as intended. 

This is pretty much catastrophic, and it can get even worse.

The gaps can create arcing, which is where electricity jumps over a bit of air to get from one conductor to another.

Arcing absolutely destroys the tiny circuits in your computer.

Even if arcing doesn’t occur, thermal contraction can ruin your computer.

When the computer warms back up to room temperature, the metals inside will return to their normal size. 

But, they won’t necessarily return to the exact same shape.

When you’re talking about microscopic components, this means that the computer might never work again after it has been frozen.

It’s why computer manufacturers have specific recommendations.

Always keep your computer out of freezing temperatures.

The cold can destroy the laptop, and it won’t be covered by any standard warranty.

Should You Use a Refrigerator Instead?

Woman taking a lemon out of the fridge

Putting your laptop in a refrigerator is just as bad an idea as putting it in the freezer.

While the refrigerator is less likely to cause ice crystals, it introduces new dangers to the laptop. 

Namely, refrigerators are often full of liquids.

Any spill can destroy the computer.

There are other issues with molds and mildews that are common in refrigerators, food particles, and the fact that refrigerators can eventually bring your computer to dangerously low temperatures.

There is also the same fundamental problem.

The fridge doesn’t cool off the laptop better than a kitchen counter. 

There’s no reason to expose the laptop to the dangers of the refrigerator.

Refrigerator temperatures are low enough to damage a laptop, so if you leave it in there long enough, you’re going to have problems.

What Happens if You Put Your Cell Phone in the Freezer?

Bachelor Looking For Food in a Fridge

What happens if you put your cell phone in the freezer?

Can a freezer cool down a cell phone without harming it?

Putting your phone in a freezer is risky and can ruin it. 

Although some phones can survive this, cold temperatures are bad for batteries. 

Moreover, the cold temperatures can damage the phone’s structure and expose it to condensation.

Here’s what happens to your cell phone if you put it in a freezer.