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!)
When you find yourself needing an ice pack, why not Make Your Own? I’ve got five easy ways that you can make a homemade ice pack and they’re all easy to do with using common household items that can be put in ziploc bags and then popped in the freezer. We’ll look at methods using corn syrup, dish soap, rubbing alcohol, and salt.
If you want a little 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. And one of the methods is even easier – just use a wet sponge!
5 Ideas for DIY Ice Packs
#1 – Corn Syrup Ice Pack
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. This is my favorite method for making a homemade ice pack and I keep one in the freezer all the time. It’s especially good for injuries because it stays flexible and can be molded around ankles, knees, wrists or other sore areas.
#2 – Dish Soap Ice Pack
Dish soap can also be used to make a simple homemade ice pack and depending on how long you leave it in the freezer, it can be more gel like and flexible or firmer and icier. I prefer to take it back out of the freezer after just 2 hours because then it will still be flexible and squishy (much like the corn syrup). If you leave the dish soap ice pack in the freezer for longer than a couple hours, it will be much more icy and firm. So the time frame for this method is more important, depending on what type of ice pack you want. Either way, it’s a simple method that can be made in any size ziploc bag by just pouring in dish soap. No measuring is needed. I’ve tried this method with both Dawn dish soap and Ajax dish soap which both worked well, and I would think that other brands of dish soap should work for making an ice pack too.
#3 – Rubbing Alcohol and Water Ice Pack
The addition of alcohol to water will keep it from freezing completely which makes it an easy way to create a homemade ice pack. To make this method in a quart size ziploc bag, combine 1½ cups of water with a ½ 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 gives the ice pack a little bit of color. I made this version in the smaller snack size ziploc bags and simply cut the recipe in half, combining ¾ cup water with ¼ cup of the rubbing alcohol.
#4 – Salt and Water Ice Pack
For a really cheap and easy DIY ice pack, simply add some ordinary table salt to water. Salt is another ingredient that when added to water will keep it from freezing completely. 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 – Wet Sponge Ice Pack
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 for DIY Ice Packs
– You can freeze the small packets of ketchup or other condiments from fast food restaurants for teeny tiny ice packs for the little ones.
– For a quick and easy cover for ice packs, check out my previous post about homemade heating pads and ice packs.
5 Ways To Make Homemade Ice Packs
- Option 1 using Corn Syrup: Pour some corn syrup into a ziploc bag and place in the freezer. It will become gel-like and not freeze solid.
- Option 2 using Dish Soap: Pour some dish soap into a ziploc bag and place in the freezer. After about 2 hours it will be a softer type of ice pack. If left in the freezer longer, it will become a harder ice pack.
- Option 3 using Rubbing Alcohol: Pour 1½ cups water and ½ cup rubbing alcohol (I use 70% isopropyl alcohol) into a quart size ziploc bag and place in the freezer. You can make a smaller version by combing ¾ cup water and ¼ cup rubbing alcohol in a snack size ziploc bag.
- Option 4 using Salt: Combine 2 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt (I use regular table salt) in a quart size ziploc bag and place in the freezer.
- Option 5 using a Sponge: Get a sponge wet with water and squeeze it just a bit so it is not dripping. Place in the freezer until the sponge feels hard and solid.