5 Ways to Make Homemade Ice Packs


Every now and then life hands you a situation that says “I need an icepack!!”

Maybe you’ve had an injury or a sprain, perhaps a hurt child needs to soothe a boo boo, someone might be recovering from surgery. . .

Or . .

maybe you just need to keep your lunch cold.

(That’s an important situation too!)

homemade ice packs

When you find yourself needing an ice pack, why not Make Your Own?  Here are five easy methods using common household items:

5 Ways to Make Homemade Ice Packs

All of the methods below can be put into a ziploc bag and then put in the freezer.  For extra security against leakage, you can also double bag your ice packs by putting the ziploc bag inside a second ziploc bag, with the zippered side facing down toward the bottom.

homemade ice packs

1.  Corn Syrup

Corn syrup (such as a brand like Karo Light Corn Syrup) makes an excellent gel type of ice pack.  It stays nice and squishy and flexible and doesn’t change texture or color in the freezer.  It also contains nothing harmful if it would accidentally puncture or leak in a lunch, aside from things getting a little sticky.   It can be made using any size ziploc bag.  Simply pour some corn syrup into the bag, seal, and put in the freezer for several hours.

2.  Dish Soap

Dish soap can also be used to make a gel type of ice pack.  I used Dawn dish soap when I tested this out and found that after only a couple of hours it was still much like the corn syrup and had not changed color or consistency and was nice and squishy.  However the next day it was no longer like a gel and was much more icy and firm.  Either way, it doesn’t freeze up solid and if you use a colorful soap (like the blue color of Dawn) it will signal that it is not an edible substance.  It also can be used in any size ziploc bag by pouring in some dish soap, sealing, and putting in the freezer for several hours.

3.  Rubbing Alcohol

The addition of alcohol to water will keep it from freezing completely which makes it an easy way to create a homemade ice pack.  Use a sandwich size or quart size ziploc bag and combine 1-1/2 cups of water with a 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol.  Seal and put in the freezer for several hours or overnight.   Sometimes you can also find a Green Colored Wintergreen Rubbing Alcohol which would give the ice pack a little bit of color.

4.  Salt

For a really cheap and easy DIY ice pack, simply add some ordinary table salt to water.  Use a sandwich size or quart size ziploc bag and add 2 tablespoons of salt to 2 cups of water.  Seal and put in the freezer for several hours or overnight.

5.  Sponge

Finally, you can create an ice pack by using a clean sponge, getting it wet with water and putting it in the freezer. This is a good method for an ice pack for lunches as it’s just water with no other possibly harmful substances.  The sponge will be hard and firm with no flexibility when first taken out of the freezer.  As it warms up it becomes moist and soft again, but not drippy.  You can put it in a baggie if you want, but it isn’t absolutely necessary.

Bonus Ideas!

ketchup packet


– You can freeze the small packets of ketchup or other condiments from fast food restaurants for teeny tiny ice packs for the little ones.



homemade ice pack cover– For a quick and easy cover for ice packs, check out my previous post about homemade heating pads and ice packs.



This post was featured on the Earning My Cape Linky  Party


Print Friendly


    Feel free to comment or share your bright idea!

  1. says

    Ooh! I love these! What a great idea to use the Zip Lock bags!
    I will be featuring your ice packs at my Super Link Party on Wednesday!
    If you have a blog button, I’d love to display it under Featured Guests on my sidebar for the week. :-)

  2. Lisa says

    Thanks so much. I have arthritis in my shoulder, and I need a chill pack, but ice is too cold . I made the corn syrup pack with my FoodSaver and some expired syrup (eew) I found in the back of the pantry. I keep it in the fridge for after PT. Terrific!

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      That’s great that the corn syrup ice pack is working out for you Lisa! I thought the corn syrup made a nice squishy cold pack too and most of us have corn syrup around the house (even if it is expired!)

  3. Soleng says

    Hi! Great article. I want to make these gel ice packs to cool my insulin while on travel. How long before they melt or lose their cool? Thanks!

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      You should be able to get at least a couple hours of cooling out of these ice packs, however it could be more or less depending on the temperature of the conditions you are using them in.

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      Well that’s true, but what fun would that be? :) I do my share of shopping at the dollar stores too, but I also like having alternative strategies for those times when I want to use what I have to make what I need.

    • Heather says

      I work for two different chiropractors, and have had to purchase ice packs for a number of orthopedic issues in my life. Sure, for an emergency, a $1.00 break and squish instant ice pack can be fine, but for chronic inflammatory conditions, sometimes you need a larger overall, our something heavier. I can attest that a QUALITY ice pack purchases from a store that is large enough for orthopedic applications (especially for while rotator cuff inflammation our low back pain) is going to run you a MINIMUM of $20-$30. And as anyone who uses them frequent will yell you, it’s good to have spares, so rather than spend $60 for a couple ice packs, why not pay $20 total and make quite a few? This is an excellent way to save money, and if one punctures, you can just change out the Ziploc bag!

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      The water/salt ice pack combo does stay somewhat flexible because the salt keeps the water from freezing solid. It’s kind of like “slushy” ice.

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      There should be a little gadget that appears to the left of this blog post where you can “Like” on facebook and which lets you share this post. You should get the option to add your own message with it too if you want. -OR- you can always just copy the URL address of this post (up in the address bar portion of your browser) and just paste it into your Facebbok post. Thanks for wanting to share :)

  4. sfrancisk says

    Great to see all the possibilities in one spot. I am making ice packs up for a team so the Rubbing Alcohol method is appealing because of the cost saving. Thanks.

    • BeverlyBeverly says

      Meagan – I’ve never tried an alcohol/water mixture with a sponge so I’m not sure how that would work. My first thought was that alcohol evaporates quickly so a sponge soaked in this mixture would probably have to be in some kind of a container or the alcohol would just evaporate away. This might defeat the purpose of using a sponge.

  5. michael mobley says

    this is an excelent idea.I am teaching a survival class with my neihgborhood before we go on a camping trip in the woods

  6. Jan says

    I use these in my cooler. Keeps things very cold. Just put them back in the freezer and ready to travel again. I do double and triple bag the ice packs. Keeps bottle waters very cold.

  7. says

    On my ice packs I use the different size zippered curtain panel bags over my zip loc bags.I also dampen an old hand towel dipped or sprayed with rubbing alcohol. I freeze several different sizes.you can scrunch it up before using.last a long time.