Make your own ice packs to use for minor injuries. This is a guide about homemade ice packs.
This is a simple and quick project. We keep ours in the freezer and they are always ready for the large amount of boo-boos in our house. They always seem to make the kids feel better. You can use scraps of material, since you don't need too much. For this pack, I used an old t-shirt. You can make them any size you would like.
Approximate Time: About 15 minutes.
I've been trying to think of ways to defeat heat stroke. I'm thinking about buying these jell packs filled with Phase change material. They are expensive. Would any one have ideas on making some thing similar? To elaborate, phase change material aren't freezing cold. They just pump out a nice pleasant 60 degrees or so over a long period to help you avoid heat stroke in the absence of air conditioning. any one got any ideas on creating a cheap, cost effective version of this stuff?
Quizzelbuck from Toledo, OH
By guest (Guest Post) Flag
July 19, 2008
Making homemade phase change cold packs should be relatively easy to implement as they are by definition not freezing cold but instead delivering a more constant and stable 60 degrees F. for a much lower period of time.
The recipe calls for the use of something called Sodium polyacrylate it is the stuff that also happens to be in baby diapers.
One can get Sodium polyacrylate from, http://www.watersorb.com/prices.htm
The unique thing about Sodium polyacrylate is that it has the ability to absorb 30 gallons of water per pound of sodium polyacrylate granules.
A little sodium polyacrylate medium sized granules goes a long way. One should only use 1 teaspoon of sodium polyacrylate granules per quart of water. So for example when using a gallon sized ziploc bag use no more than 4 teaspoons of the sodium polyacrylate granules with four quarts of water.
By using the sodium polyacrylate granules when mixed in the proper recommended above ratio one can make a suitable homemade phase change ice pack that can by design parameters have a much higher and not freezing cold 32 degrees F but instead delivering a more constant and stable 60 degrees F. for a much lower period of time.
This is the way to go as far as customizing ones own homemade phase change ice pack for different desired objective temperature points for different chilling objective applications.
I always keep some of those Capri Sun juice packs on hand for the neighborhood kids. We live on a lake and there's always children going by.
I recently had back surgery and needed ice packs to help with pain and swelling. I asked my husband to freeze some of the juice packs to use. They were the perfect size and didn't leak or thaw quickly. I didn't realize the muscles on my chest would be sore too. Each pack fit just right in my top over chest. I guess they would be good too for hot flashes, just slip it in your bra. LOL
Take a piece of fabric, 45 by 3 1/4 inches, fold in half to wrong sides together with 1/2 inch seam allowance stitch the full length of the fabric to construct a long tube. Turn right side out 6 inches from 1 end and stitch across to seal. Stuff in the cotton from the diaper, trying to distribute evenly, then stitch across 6 inches from the opposite end.
To hydrate the material inside the tube: In a large Ziploc bag, pour 2 cups cool distilled water and 1/3 cup hydrogen peroxide. Place your diaper cotton stuffed tube in this bag, the cotton will expand holding the liquid, it will stay cool. Place this on the back of your neck. As it draws the heat from your body it starts to warm. Just turn it over to the cooler side. This will eventually dry out. Each time you need to rehydrate, add 1/3 cup of hydrogen peroxide to distilled water before rehydrating. This will foam up, it's killing any bacteria that has transferred to the cool tube (if you do not use the peroxide it will start to smell.) Don't worry, it will not bleach clothing. At the end of the hot season, just hang it out to dry completely or just make a new one next year. I suggest making 1 for dirty jobs, gardening or washing the car. You can keep them in the refrigerator to get them really cool.
By Babbie from Lemon Grove, CA
For boo-boos, swelling or high fevers, slip a freezer-sized zipper bag into a tube sock THEN fill it with ice and zip. Tie a knot in the top of the sock, and you have an easy-to-manage ice pack that won't leak and easily conforms around knees, elbows, and foreheads.
Can I make a homemade "cooling" bandanna or similar product?
By Denise from Duluth, MN
June 5, 2010
Thanks! I am going to try using the ice packs that come with my medication first. This is my plan. Open the ice pack and fill a snack sized baggie with the cooling material and follow the instructions to add to a bandanna. Any ideas or suggestions?
For a gel ice pack, place 2 cups water and 1/3 cup (80 proof) vodka in a ziploc freezer bag. Seal and enclose in a second ziploc freezer bag. Place in freezer. When frozen, wrap with a cloth before applying to skin.
By duckie-do from Cortez, CO
I know there is a way to make gel, aka boo boo, packs, but I do not remember the recipe. Do any of you know it?
By McCollonough from TN
I recently had shoulder surgery and am using lots of ice. I would like to make my own ice packs. I know that you can put rubbing alcohol and water in a zip lock bag and freeze it. The alcohol prevents it from freezing solid...it becomes slushy and can be easily molded to your "owie". The only problem is that I don't know how much of each to use; nor do I know what strength of alcohol since it comes in 50%, 70% and 91%. Can anyone help me?
Margaret from Texas
Hi Margaret! I hope your shoulder gets well quickly. Here's a site I found for making your own ice pack with alcohol. www.recipezaar.com/91931 I really doubt that the % of alcohol will make a huge difference...other than, as the site says, the more alcohol the "softer" the pack will be. God bless you!!! (04/29/2005)
get some cotton fabric, cut it the size you need for your ice pack. sew three sides, put in enough plain white rice to half fill the bag. Sew the fourth side together, freeze when you need an ice pack, or microwave for two minutes when you need heat. ARDIS (06/24/2005)
By Ardis Barnes
Use equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water. Any type of rubbing alcohol will work, too! (09/08/2005)
Yesterday, my 7 year old daughter fell and hurt her knee. Well, she loves an ice pack for all of her ailments so I got the cheap dollar store ice pack out and it was hard as a rock and hard to hold in the right place so since she had already destroyed my "good" squishy one by trying to see what was in it, we made our own. I took a quart size generic ziplock bag and put rubbing alcohol and water not quite half full and froze it. I guess you could add food coloring for more interest. Anyway now we have a very, very cold squishy ice pack that conforms to all those odd parts that sometimes need ice.
A reader mentions below that the rubbing alcohol could be toxic to a child. A better mixture might be water and vodka. That way it would be much less toxic if it broke or some of the contents dripped out. If you use this with a child, make sure they don't lick eat the contents or suck on the bag.
Susan from ThriftyFun
You can also add cotton balls to this and it keeps it a little more "spill proof" if the seal opens or the bag breaks. (10/16/2004)
This could be dangerous, as rubbing alcohol is irreversibly toxic to the optic nerve (can cause blindness). Make sure your child doesn't lick it or drink anything that may drip out.
By Susan B
We use a small packet of frozen peas.
If you label it well, you can use it time and time again - just refreeze. It will mold well to any body part.
Label it well because you do NOT want to eat them after thawing, etc. (01/05/2005)
from my OT for my hand therapy for a tendon repair
Thank you, this works great! (Very Cold). I have a fractured ankle and it is great for decreasing swelling. I also double bag this mixture to keep liquid from spilling out. :-) (07/24/2005)
I found using two bags helps control the condensation. I also found out that using a larger freezer bag for the outside bag is helpful since the condensation will run through both bags if too tight fitting. (09/24/2005)
Love the Editors note above. Mix Vodka and water. You start off with a frozen ice pack to comfort your pain and when it thaws you can drink it and further dull your pain. LOL. Chill, just being funny.
I live with neck and back pain every day from herniated discs. My PT passed along the info to mix the rubbing alcohol and water to make cold packs. My little 5 year old loves them. She won't put an icecube pack on her booboo, but she will use the alternative. (11/29/2007)
Another great homemade cold pack is to add regular rubbing alcohol to water - about 1 part alcohol to 3 parts water - in a freezer type zip top bag. I keep a couple of these in my freezer at all times. The bags don't freeze solid because of the alcohol and that makes them ideal to wrap over a wrist, knee or similar area. I use them over and over before they get a leak. I also usually add a drop or two of food color to the mixture to make them easy to find in the freezer.
These work great. I use 2 ziplock bags to prevent leakage. They last a very long time. (10/09/2007)
I find those store bought ice packs ineffective. There are 2 kinds. The big bulky ones that take up too much space or the thin kind that don't reach everything. Freeze ice cubes and seal in a vacuum sealed bag, then let it melt until you have moldable ice pack to refreeze that will fit your needs. It's reusable and leak proof to boot.
I recently heard that you can make your own ice pack by putting water and alcohol in a zip lock bag and freezing. does anyone know what the formula is?
Kathy from New London, CT
I would be wary of the homemade ice packs--the alcohol could play havoc with fabrics and furniture if it springs a leak.
I would suggest buying 3 or 4 bags of frozen peas (yup, regular green peas) and keep those in the freezer--label them "not for eating" if you have others in your family who might be doing some cooking.
Use the bags of peas (you can wrap in a cloth, if you like) for an ice pack. When one thaws, put it back in the freezer, and grab another. I've found that 3 or four bags will allow the first to refreeze by the time the others are used. (07/28/2006)
Hi Kathy! I'm a physical therapist and for years have told my patients about the alcohol/water ice pack method. Not any more! An easier method is the following: depending on the size ice pack you need, get 1 or 2 bottles of Palmolive dishwashing detergent. Pour into a ziplock bag. Place that in another ziplock bag in case of leaks. Throw into the freezer, and, once cold, it's ready to go! The question I always get is, does it have to be Palmolive? I can't answer that - I've never tried any other brand - but I know the Palmolive works - I have one in my own freezer right now in the event of injury! It doesn't get too hard, and that's good 'cause then it will mold to any body part needed. By the way, a wet washcloth between any kind of ice pack and your skin is preferable to placing ice directly on the skin. Hope this helps! (07/28/2006)
A cold pack is a plastic envelope filled with gel that remains flexible at very cold temperatures. Buy 2 cold packs and keep them in the freezer. Use them for bumps, bruises, back sprains, turned ankles, sore joints, or any other health problem that calls for ice. A cold pack is more convenient than ice and may become the self-care tool you use the most.
You can make your own cold pack: Put 1 pint of rubbing alcohol and 3 pints of water in a 1-gallon, heavy-duty, plastic freezer bag. Seal the bag, and then seal it in a second bag. Mark it "Cold pack: Do not eat," and place it in the freezer.
A bag of frozen vegetables will also work as a cold pack
Here's another "recipe" from a bodybuilding website with a slightly different formula.
A quick and easy recipe to make a reusable slushy ice pack is to combine 4 parts rubbing alcohol to 1 part water and ice cubes in a plastic seal up baggie (freezer bag) Place this in the freezer for a few hours and when it is ready you will have an inexpensive ice pack.
The reason this works is that the specific temperature of the rubbing alcohol is low enough that it will not freeze in a normal freezer, allowing the contents of the bag to form a slush rather than a solid.
However, you will want to make sure you mark this bag as poisonous so that the contents don't end up in someone's drink the next time you have company. You can also use a bag of frozen vegetables which will work just as well.
For a 1 Gallon Zip Lock, use 1 part rubbing alcohol to 3 parts water. (07/31/2006)
Feedback to comment by bbb (Guest Post) 07/28/2006:
I've been icing my knee (softball injury), but I left my ice bag at work last night. I knew there were ways to make your own ice bags, but I'd only heard about the rubbing alcohol/water mixtures.
Instead of the Palmolive "bbb" mentioned, I had a 90 oz. bottle of Dove Advanced Power. I poured about 20 ounces each into two 1-gallon bags, which I then double-bagged in case the first bag leaked.
With two ice bags, I could ice both the front (anterior) and back (posterior) sides of my knee, which was far superior to just icing one side.
Cost - about $5, but really almost zero. Why? I can pour the liquid soap back into the bottle when I no longer need the ice bags, and re-use the four 1-gallon ziplock bags.
Thanks for the recipe. I was needing it again and couldn't remember the amount of alcohol. Peas, rice and the blue bags work great but the alcohol ice bags are a lifesaver when you need a continual supply. They also stay cold longer and form to the knee. They worked great when my husband had knee surgery. I just had knee surgery and the blue bags aren't cutting it.
Use 2-3 cups of water to 1 cup of alcohol. pour into a freezer bag and insert that bag into another one. I used this on my grandmother's knee after her surgery. the physical therapist gave us this remedy. (11/02/2006)
In response to the rice cold pack: I've noticed that the rice packs do not get as cold as regular ice cubes do, so I would try the alcohol, dishwashing liquid type of packs if you are looking for really cold. (02/15/2007)
These work great. I have had one in my freezer for a couple of years until just recently it sprang a leak, so am making a new one. Yes, they conform to the site easily. (10/14/2007)
After testing several different combination, I found the best ice pack is 4 parts dish soap to 1 part alcohol. (10/18/2007)
In Australia, "Methylated Spirits" is Ethanol with a vomiting agent in it, so you could use this as it would be a cheaper alternative than rubbing alcohol. (11/04/2007)
Fill a ziplock bag half water which will be 70% water and 30% alcohol. put one bag into another bag so in case it leaks and put it in the freezer. (01/17/2008)
I'm surprised no one suggested this. Instead of using a ziploc, bag use a hotwater bottle. They are a lot less likely to break. I've had mine for 5+ years. I use it every morning before work to ice my back. (03/07/2008)
Good article (05/08/2008)
Still another idea:
Make the alcohol recipe and then place in a rubber glove to freeze. It conforms wonderfully to the jaw line after wisdom teeth are removed or any other area that is curved. (07/16/2008)
I've read about two different methods of making your own ice pack. One sugested soaking a diaper in water and freezing for a hard ice pack, and for a gel pack fill a freezer bag with two parts water and one part rubbing alcohol. I combined both methods and poured the alcohol and water mixture into a diaper, inserted the diaper into a freezer bag and put it in the freezer. It worked and should last for a long time. (10/30/2008)
I believe the ratio is 1/4 cup alcohol to 3/4 cup water. My physical therapy assistant was telling me that a nurse patient had come up with this idea for those who don't have an ice pack. (11/30/2008)
By Dee - Imperial PA
Just heard of this great idea from my PT. Wonder if putting it in seal a meal bag would work better then ziplock? Just a thought! (02/12/2009)
Put three parts water and one part isopropyl alcohol in a one gallon freezer bag. Seal it tight and then double bag it. Its also a good idea to put blue food dye in it and label caution not food if you have kids around (be sure and use 90% isopropyl for best results). (03/31/2009)
<img src="/images/articles/winner.jpg" align="left" width="72" height="77">I can't remember where I heard this, but I've done it and it works. Just place the amount of liquid dish soap you desire in to a Ziplock bag, remove as much air as possible and freeze. It comes out nice and pliable and reusable as an icepack, or if you decide you don't need or want it as an icepack anymore, you have soap to wash your dishes.
By Deeli from Richland, WA
I will keep that in mind. And, I also keep a bag of frozen corn in a special zip lock for knees and such. When it thaws, you simply keep using, but never eat. (08/26/2009)
If you add some rubbing alcohol, it doesn't freeze, (also at the $1 stores) the emulsion will become more gel like and thereby conform better to whatever you're putting it on. They can be used time and time again, but if you're going to use a $1 store brand bag I would suggest double bagging it as they are not quite as strong as name brands are (experience talking). (08/26/2009)
I am looking for instructions for a homemade ice bag with alcohol.
By Ellen from Holden, MO
Here you go:
Homemade gel pack: 1 part rubbing alcohol with 3 parts water, in a Ziploc, frozen overnight. (11/27/2009)
Yesterday, my 7 year old daughter fell and hurt her knee. Well, she loves an ice pack for all of her ailments so I got the cheap dollar store ice pack out and it was hard as a rock and hard to hold in the right place so since she had already destroyed my "good" squishy one by trying to see what was in it, we made our own.
I took a quart size generic ziplock bag and put rubbing alcohol and water not quite half full and froze it. I guess you could add food coloring for more interest. Anyway now we have a very, very cold squishy ice pack that conforms to all those odd parts that sometimes need ice.
Editor's Note: A reader mentions below that the rubbing alcohol could be toxic to a child. A better mixture might be water and vodka. That way it would be much less toxic if it broke or some of the contents dripped out. If you use this with a child, make sure they don't lick eat the contents or suck on the bag.
Susan from ThriftyFun
How do you make water-alcohol ice packs?
By Joan from Modesto, CA
To make a "small ice pack" : one cup rubbing alcohol, two cups water, and one quart size Ziploc plastic freezer bag.
To make a "large ice pack" : two cups rubbing alcohol, four cups water, and one gallon size Ziploc plastic freezer bag.
For more great ideas visit www.debtproofliving.com then click on "Everyday Cheapskate" on the homepage. (02/04/2010)
Last summer I had some eye surgery. My surgeon's nurse recommended I use a bag of frozen peas as an ice pack after the surgery. I tried that, but wasn't too delighted with it.
I remembered someone suggesting freezing dish washing detergent in a Ziploc bag, so I tried that. It was fantastic! The detergent never completely froze, so it conformed very well to the shape of my face. I told several friends about it, and they all thought it was a great idea.
Here's the best, thrifty part: once you no longer have a need for the ice pack, you can let it thaw and use the detergent to wash your dishes! Oh, by the way, if you still feel you must use the frozen peas, be sure to put them in a bag and don't use the box, as I heard someone did.
By Tooz from KY
When I had my eye surgery last fall the Dr. told me to take a small Ziploc bag, put some water in it and then add some rubbing alcohol. Put it in the freezer and it will get nicely slushy, but never frozen rock hard. It will then conform to any area that you use it on, especially the eye area. Also, the alcohol makes it feel even colder. You can make several and keep them on hand in the freezer for injuries. Also, the story about the frozen peas in the box must be going around. I heard that one too, when I had my surgery. (03/25/2010)