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Homemade Ice Pack

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

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 apiece. The approximate material costs for the homemade pack are:

  • Water – $.02
  • 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.

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?

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Homesteader KitchenBethany 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.

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Comments

  1. Tracy says

    I keep 3 flexible ice packs in my freezer for migraines too. I wrap one in a kitchen towel, grab a stretchy headband (so it stays in place) and lay down. It doesn’t always get rid of the migraine, but almost always gives me a great deal of pain relief. Mine are store bought and I have had them for about 12 years. Is it bad to hope they break soon so I can make homemade ones? :-)

  2. Kaylyn says

    Fantastic idea! You can also buy 91% alcohol at most pharmacies. It’s cheaper than vodka and doubles as an excellent paint clean-up product. I’ve used it to remove paint drips from carpet; works great!!

    • says

      No kidding! I didn’t know that… that’s definitely a bonus because I know Everclear isn’t available everywhere. Great tip :)

  3. Vicky says

    Matt, a very easy ice pack with a second purpose was given to me by a college girl. Frozen Veggies. They are cheap, plus you can eat them afterwards. The veggies do form to any shape also. She used them when she injured her knee. No they are not reuseable but you get some good meals with them and stretch a dollar.

    • says

      I’ve used those before, they work out pretty nicely. Frozen peas especially work well, I think. Technically you could probably reuse them a few times though I wouldn’t be eating them if I did that ;)

      • ELizabeth says

        You can use frozen veggies many times over, but I wouldn’t suggest eating them after you’ve done that.

  4. says

    I have DIY flax seed and rice bags in my freezer. Then I have one that is parked by the mircowave for heating up for when I need heating pad. I have had them for years. Will have to try the water n alcohol ones too.

  5. Sarah says

    Thank you for this! I am making a rice-filled hot pack for my sister-in-law for Christmas, and now I’m going to be making her a cold pack too. I love your posts!! Thank you!!

  6. sam says

    i love this! how do you use your foodsaver to seal the bags? we have a food saver and i’d like to do that, but doesn’t the water fun all over the counter when you lay it down to seal it?

    • says

      Hi Sam!

      Yeah you’d think so, but there’s two ways around it. First, you can seal the mixture in a regular ziplock-type bag, squeezing the air out and then use your foodsaver to seal that bag inside a foodsaver bag. Either that, or you can put the mixture into your foodsaver bag, stick it into the freezer until it’s frozen, and then seal it. It will be a little slushy but if you pull it right out of the freezer and seal it immediately you should have no problems with moisture getting all over or inside your food sealer.

  7. colby says

    how slushy are they? i like mine pretty slushy and use 3 parts water to 1 part alcohol but don’t know if it would be slushier if i used less alcohol or more?
    how long does it stay cold (on average) i can keep mine outside the freezer and it will still be slushy after 2-4 hours.

  8. julie says

    My rehab gave me the recipe of 1 cup 91% (or above) RUBBING ALCHOL
    and 2 cups water.
    Pour in zip lock bag and another over top to keep from leafing. The reason for the higher percent of alchol doesn’t freeze solid and is more slushy to mold around hurt. 70% can freeze solid sometimes.

  9. Lisa says

    Great ideas for making homeade ice packs! Love using natural and home remedies with stuff we have in our home, It’s cheap and vey smart. Love it!

  10. melissa says

    my son broke his leg and had surgery and had to go to PT for three months and this is how they told us to make his ice packs to form to his body. Now my husband is using it as he tore his ACL in his Knee. thank you this is a great and inexpensive way to make ice packs….