Everyone should have flexible ice packs available for quick injury treatments but at $10-$15 a pop, making a homemade ice pack is a much better proposition. They are super simple to make, and cost around $1.25 in materials. These homemade ice packs are soft, flexible, and comfortable for icing down body aches and pains. The other bonus is that you know the ingredients – no crazy chemicals, just a few common household items.
History of this ice pack
Not too long ago I was given antibiotics for a throbbing volcano of pain commonly referred to as a toothache. Thanks to a late diagnosis, the medicine was taking several days to kick in. I was visiting my parents at the time and my mom had a big ole flexible ice pack that soon became a permanent attachment to my face.
When I went home, I didn’t have one so I decided to use crushed ice in a zip bag. This worked fine until the night when I woke up with a leaky bag and a sopping wet pillow. Naturally at that point I decided to figure out how to make my own homemade ice pack out of materials I had on hand.
I knew that if I added enough alcohol to water, it would prevent it from freezing solid. I tested it, and it worked great.
These ice packs are reusable and super easy to make. Mine is still sitting in my freezer waiting for its next opportunity to shine. Here’s how easy it is…
Flexible homemade alcohol water ice pack
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup rubbing alcohol or high-proof vodka (I used Everclear)
- food coloring for the blue tint (optional)
- 2 zip-top bags – quart or gallon-size or vacuum sealer bags
Mix the water and alcohol together in one of your zip-top bags and add food coloring, if desired, until you get that perfect blue tint. Release as much air as possible and seal the bag. I recommend double bagging for strength. (If you have a vacuum sealer use a vacuum seal bag for the outer layer to further prevent accidents.) My trusty Foodsaver works like a charm. After my leaky bag/wet pillow incident I wasn’t taking any chances!
Stick your new flexible homemade alcohol ice pack in the freezer for about 12 hours before using it for the first time. It will be icy, a little slushy, and perfectly flexible for any body injury that needs the cold treatment.
A few tips…
If you use a quart size zip-top bag, your ice pack will be more square shaped, and a gallon-size will give you a longer more narrow pack. Use whichever you prefer. I like the gallon size better because they wrap around body parts better.
Different alcohols will give different results. Rubbing alcohol is around 70% alcohol, and the Everclear I used is about 95% alcohol. So, you may want to freeze the inner bag first to make sure you like the amount of flexibility before committing to permanent double-bagging. The general rule is – more alcohol = slushier ice pack.
Cost savings breakdown
The savings for making your own homemade ice pack is significant. Flexible ice packs generally run between $10 and $14 a piece. The approximate material costs (at time of writing) for the homemade pack are:
- Water – 2¢
- Rubbing Alcohol – 75¢
- Gallon zip top bag – 13¢
- Food Vacuum Sealer Bag – 38¢
Total Cost: – $1.28
Total Savings: – $8.72-$13.72, or 87%-91%.
The ice packs are reusable indefinitely (unless punctured) and can be used just as a commercial ice pack.
There you have it… a quick, easy, and inexpensive recipe for homemade ice packs. The project is fun and well worth the 15 minutes for a 90% savings.
Note: When you use this be sure to put a thing cloth between your skin and the pack, it’s as cold as ice!
Give away as a cool gift
Get it, a “cool” gift? Hee hee.
This is a fun family project that yields a universally functional item that saves money and provides comfort with each use. What’s not to love?
Bethany is a stay-home mom of two (with one on the way!) who lives in the shadow of Mt Rainier, WA. She operates a personal blog at Uncle Dutch Farms and likes to write lengthy reviews on her favorite kitchen tools at The Homesteader Kitchen. She loves to write, garden, spend time in the kitchen (except for the doing dishes part), and thinks that all little girls should be able to ride around in a tractor.