3 Ways to make Long Lasting Ice Packs in your house, with everyday things from your cuboards
Whether you’re an athlete, fitness enthusiast, or somewhere between a couch potato and a thrice-a-week-workout person (like most of us), chances are, you have needed an ice gel pack at least once.
And now that many more people are discovering the advantages and convenience of working out at home, the rise of inevitable muscle pains and injuries have also increased. And this is why so many are looking for ways to make a gel ice pack at home.
As a rule, it’s better to keep things simple and always have a ready compress at home, but not everyone has this handy all the time. These methods of making gel ice packs are good for emergencies. They’re not really for long term use like our handy and durable luxury ice packs that can be used as both hot and cold compress. As they say, it pays to be prepared but it’s better to be smart. Why make when you can get a professional one for almost the same price but less effort? Ours is one of the most affordable gel packs in the market and the only effort you need to do is click buy.
There are three different methods to make a gel ice pack at home. We’ll list them for you and also provide the cons of each procedure, so you know which kind works for you. Though in our opinion, getting a reusable hot and cold gel pack is the best option. Nevertheless, we present to you:
THREE WAYS TO MAKE GEL ICE PACK AT HOME
THE WATER + ALCOHOL METHOD
This is the simplest and most basic and common way of making a gel ice pack at home.
What you need:
2 Ziplock bags
1 cup of water
1 cup rubbing alcohol
Optional food colouring (usually blue)
- In one Ziplock bag, combine both the water and rubbing alcohol.
- You can add a drop of food colouring. This is not necessary but just to give a heads up to those who may see this bag in the freezer. So that they know what this is for.
- Seal the Ziplock bag, make sure there’s little to no air inside.
- Place this Ziplock bag inside the second Ziplock bag. This is to prevent / minimise leakage.
- Freeze the bag.
The science behind why alcohol mixed with water does not freeze is due to basic science. Ethanol, which is the main ingredient of rubbing alcohol (87 to 91%), has a much lower freezing temperature. Water has a freezing temperature of 100 degrees Celsius whereas ethanol’s freezing point is -114.1 degrees Celsius.
This Ziplock method of making gel ice pack at home works well if you need one right away, as all households will likely have these ingredients on hand.
However, the downside to this Ziplock method is that the bag will likely not be good for multiple use. And because the ‘gel’ is just sealed by Ziplock and it really is held in plastic, there’s the likelihood of water and alcohol seeping or leaking out of the Ziplock bag.
Another disadvantage is that because it’s in a plastic bag, this homemade gel ice pack will likely be very slippery and produce liquid droplets overtime. This means it’s not going to be convenient to place in not so easy areas like shoulders without one hand propping it in place. So while this is easy to make, it can be cumbersome to place on your pain areas, unlike these luxury ice gel packs that already come with a comfortable sleeve and strap.
THE DIAPER METHOD
This procedure of making a gel ice pack at home will be handy for those with babies at because it requires a diaper.
What you need:
1 Diaper (with gel absorption technology, as most diapers are these days)
3 cups water
1 Ziplock bag
A pair of scissors or knife
Optional: blue food colouring
- Place the diaper in a bowl and open it, with the ‘inside’ part facing up.
- Pour 3 cups of water in the diaper. Wait around 20-30 minutes for this to get fully absorbed.
- When the diaper is engorged to twice or three times its size, lay it flat on a table or chopping board.
- Dissect / cut the diaper open.
- Scoop out the gel parts and place them in a bowl.
- Optional: add in a few drops of food colouring in the gel mixture. Combine / mix until the colour is evenly distributed.
- Transfer the gel mixture in a Ziplock bag. Distribute evenly and remove air before sealing.
Because this method of making a homemade gel ice pack incorporates a ‘gel technology’ from diapers, many tend to believe that this is the closest you can make at home to an actual gel pack.
However, the downside to this is that there’s a tendency for the gel to completely freeze, so you don’t really get a pliable pack in the end.
The procedure can also be quite messy and expensive. Diapers are not cheap and if you do not have toddlers are home, you are likely not going to be able to buy diapers individually.
There are suggestions to pour alcohol in the diaper instead of water to make it more ‘gel like’ but we find that nothing still beats actual gel packs filled with Glycerol. Glycerol keeps the cold compress from freezing into a solid block of ice in the freezer, so you always have a compress that’s always pliable and flexible.
THE STOVE TOP METHOD
Among all the homemade gel pack ice procedures, this one will likely belong to the intermediate level as it requires some form of ‘cooking’.
What you need:
Three to four cups of water
One cup of salt
One cup of cornstarch
Two Ziplock bags
Pot / Stove
Optional: Food colouring
- Start to boil the 3-4 cups of water in a pot.
- When the water is boiling, add in your salt and cornstarch.
- Whisk carefully until mixture has reached the consistency of a pudding.
- Optional: Add a few drops of food colouring.
- Whisk further until colour has blended evenly.
- Allow the mixture to cool down.
- Pour the goo (this is what it will look like at this point) in a Ziplock bag. Seal the bag making sure no air is inside.
- You can double the Ziplock bags to avoid leakage.
For this D-I-Y gel ice pack procedure, the ‘magic’ ingredient is salt, which slows down the freezing time of water. The downside to this method is that it is time consuming, messy and if you don’t add the cornstarch properly, it can result in a lumpy mess.
While all these methods on how to make a gel ice pack at home work in some way to relieve your pain and discomfort, these are quick solutions when you do not have a proper gel ice pack yet.
One important thing to note is that all a homemade gel ice pack will only be used as a cold compress. Yes, homemade is good but it’s not always better. Sometimes, luxury ice packs such as this end up being a more practical and valuable purchase.
For instance, these Magic Gel Ice packs are reusable as a heat or cold compress. If you need it to be a hot compress, you just pop it in the microwave and it’s a hot gel compress. When you need it cold, you can put it in the freezer. The gel pack also comes with a fleece sleeve, along with an adjustable strap. This means that hard to reach but commonly in pain areas like shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles can be easily soothed as the built-in straps also secure them in place. When you have many things to do but so little time, It’s important to be able to still multi-task while healing your aches and pains.
But the most crucial point why it’s important to get a proper cold and hot gel pack is:
If you’ve experienced any type of sprain, strain or injury in your knee, ankle, elbow or wrist , RICE is the immediate treatment recommended by health professionals.
The R.I.C.E method consists of:
R- Rest the injured area for 48 hours
I – Ice the area for 20 minutes at a time, 4-8 times per day
C- Compress the area to reduce the swelling
E- Elevate the injured area 6 to 10 inches above the heart
Because our gel ice packs already come with a comfortable sleeve and adjustable strap, doing the R.I.C.E method is going to be easy and comfortable.
Homemade gel ice packs will soon liquify so you will either have to re-freeze or have two on hand. Moreover, homemade gel ice packs do not have sleeves and straps so it requires you (or another person) to hold the pack over the injured area.
You won’t even have to worry about your injured area getting too cold or wet, as our magic gel packs are filled with Glycerol, which keeps the cold compress from freezing, no matter how long you place it in the freezer.
You don’t have to be completely immobile when you’re nursing an injury or soothing bodily aches and pains as our magic gel packs will allow you to do this comfortably hands-free!
Whether you’re an athlete, fitness enthusiast, or somewhere between a couch potato and a thrice-a-week-workout person (like most of us), chances are, you have needed an ice gel pack at least once. And now that many more people are discovering the advantages and convenience of working out at home, the rise of inevitable muscle pains […]