9 Ways to Make a DIY Ice Pack
These homemade ice packs will keep your aches soothed or your lunches cool. They’re perfect in a pinch, will save you money, and are even better than the commercial kind.
Soak a sponge
Here’s one of the easiest ways to make your own ice pack: Soak a clean sponge in cold water, let the excess water drip off, then place the sponge in a plastic zip-top or vacuum-seal type bag. Remove excess air from the bag, then store it in the freezer overnight. The result? An easy, drip-free DIY ice pack perfect for lunches. (Related: Check out these other creative uses for a sponge.)
Pour on the vodka
A frozen block of ice can be great for keeping lunches cold, but for an injury, it’s nice to have something that is more flexible. If you don’t like the squishy texture of the gel pack, but still want something that moves a bit, try adding one part vodka or rubbing alcohol to roughly three parts water. Add two tablespoons of salt to two cups of liquid makes your pack super-cold but not frozen-solid.
Soap it up
You know those blue ice packs that are sort-of frozen, sort-of not? It’s surprisingly easy to make a homemade gel-pack. All you need is a zip-top or vacuum-seal type plastic bag and some dish soap. Squirt the dish soap into the bag, remove excess air, and pop it in the freezer. You may want to double bag this, just in case – you don’t want to risk getting soap all over your clothes or lunch. Using colored soap will remind kids (and you) that it’s not edible. Out of dish soap? You can also use corn syrup. Find out more creative uses for dish soap.
Think inside the box
If you’re looking to keep a kid’s lunchbox cool, freeze the drink box or water bottle that goes inside. It has the double bonus of keeping everything inside at a safe temp, while also giving your child the treat of an extra-cold beverage.
Yes, this may sound strange. But when you’re feeling sore in your private parts—either from hemorrhoids or because of post-birth pains—you’ll want to remember this trick. Half-fill a handful of condoms with water and tie them off like a balloon. (They should look flat when you place them down, don’t overfill!) Place them in a container in the freezer so they remain flat while freezing. Once frozen, apply it to the area until it melts. Ah, sweet relief.
Lend a hand
You know those latex gloves you see at the doctor’s office? They are a great receptacle when you want to make your own ice pack. Try filling it with a part-rubbing alcohol, part-water mix (about one part alcohol to three parts water) so it doesn’t freeze solid. It’s the perfect vehicle for soothing burns to the hands or sore feet.
Next time you’re loading up on ice for a barbeque or a camping trip, try this tip: Fill a clean, empty gallon jug mostly full with water. (Leave room at the top for expansion.) Because of the volume, it will stay frozen for a long time, keeping those beverages nice and cool. As it melts, you’ll also get to enjoy some icy-cold water.
Save your pennies
Don’t cash in your loose change just yet! Because metal works well at retaining cold temperatures, it makes a great quick fix when you need an ice pack in a hurry. Simply place a handful of pennies in a clean tube sock, tie, and freeze for an hour or two to get them nice and cold. This is better for treating for aches and injuries than for keeping lunches cold.
Rice makes not only a great cold pack, but a great hot pack too. Loosely fill a tightly-closed freezer bag with rice, and place it in the freezer until needed. The rice will retain the cold for about 20 minutes—the perfect amount of time for icing an injury. It has the added benefit of molding perfectly to the injured or sore area, which can help to relieve inflammation and swelling—just the thing to ease those achy joints.