How to Keep Water Cold Without Ice

One of the best ways to keep water cold throughout the day when you're away from the fridge is by using ice. But what if you don't have ice? How can you keep water cold without ice?

What are some of the best methods for keeping water cold without ice? Read on to get some ideas that should help you to make the most of your situation. 

Use a Vacuum Insulated Bottle

Vacuum insulated water bottles or tumblers cups like Hydro Flask, Yeti, Klean Kanteen etc are going to be the absolute best way to keep your water cold when you don't have ice.

You'll want to start with water as cold as possible and fill your bottle up to the top. The more cold water you're starting with the longer it will stay cold so a larger bottle the better.

The vacuum insulation will stop heat getting into your bottle and water should stay cold for hours at a time.

I'll often just fill up my Hydro Flask bottle with tap water (which isn't that cold) and take it on a day hiking in the sun. The water never seems to warm up to that lukewarm disgusting temperature, it always stays nice and drinkable.

Yeti (and other brand) insulated bottles can keep ice cold for hours or even days at a time.

You can also check out these tips for keeping a Hydro Flask (or other bottle) cold for longer.

Wet Cloth On The Outside Of Your Bottle

This may sound a bit bizarre but wrapping your water bottle in a wet cloth is going to keep it cooler and thus keep your water inside cooler too.

The process is called “evaporative cooling”. As the water in the cloth evaporates and turns into gas it needs energy to do this. To find the energy it needs it draws heat energy from the surrounding water making it colder.

This is how they used to keep things cold before fridges and freezers and ice we commonly available. It's still used today in areas that don't have access to electricity or refrigeration, as you can see in the video below:

The faster the water evaporates the colder your cloth and water bottle will get.

You can speed up the evaporation by blowing water on the wet cloth either by using a fan, holding it into the wind, running with it or any other means to get air flowing over the wet cloth.

As the cloth dries you'll need to replenish the water keeping it wet otherwise the cooling process will stop working.

Start With Frozen Water

If you know you'll be heading out and won't have access to any external ice to keep your drinks then why not start with ice in the first place?

Fill up your water bottle (leaving a bit of air) and put in the freezer overnight. Start the day with a solid block of ice and then as you go hiking or driving or whatever it is you've got planned the ice will melt giving you icy cold water.

Combine multiple frozen water bottles together and they'll keep each other cool for longer.

NOTE: Do NOT put insulated bottles in the freezer as the expanding ice can break the vacuum seal and ruin the insulating properties of your bottle.

Place Cold Drinks in a Cooler

Usually you would fill up a cooler with ice and put drinks in it in order to keep them cool. However, coolers are about to keep drinks cold without any ice in them at all.

Coolers are full of thick insulation that stops the outside heat getting into the cooler. So even if you don't have ice your cooler will still help keep drinks cold longer than if you just left them out in the open.

For best results pre-chill your cooler and also fill it up with as much cold water as possible, even if it's more than you need. The more cold thermal mass in a cooler the longer it'll take everything to heat up.

Utilize Cold Tap Water

If you've got access to running water then cold tap water itself can be a great way to access cold water or you can use the tap water to cool down any drink.

Tap water is usually stored in the ground in pipes, insulating it from the heat of the day. So tap water is usually colder than water left in the sun.

If your drink starts to warm up over time, then you could try to cool it down somewhat by dunking it in cold tap water or fill up a bath or bucket with cold water.

The downside of this is that tap water usually isn't THAT cold so the cooling effect will be minimal. You may also not have access to tap water in the first place especially if you're going hiking or driving.

By using an aluminum bottle instead of a plastic bottle the cold tap water will cool down your drink better. Trying to cool down drinks in vacuum insulated bottles like Yeti won't work using this method.

Granted, this method isn't as convenient as being able to utilize ice. If you were able to place ice in the sink, then the water bottles would stay cooler, but you can still get good results without ice. 

Place Water in the Snow

If it is winter, then you might be able to keep water cold by placing water bottles outside. You might have snow on the ground, and this is a good opportunity to get your water nice and cold. 

Gather some snow and place it in a pile somewhere near your house. Bury some water bottles in this snow pile, and then just grab one out when you're ready to take a drink. It's like your own portable cooler.

However, you'll probably be more concerned about trying to stop water from freezing when it's winter rather than keeping it cold.

Cool Moist Soil Can Also Work

You can bury things to keep them cool at any time of the year as the ground is almost always cooler than the outside air.

If you have a patch of soil in your yard (or wherever you are) that is moist and positioned under a shady spot, then this should work nicely. 

You just want to bury some bottles of water up to the bottle caps so that they will stay cool under the earth.

Wetting the ground with a bit of water from your house can help to keep things moist and cool. It'll also create an evaporative cooling effect.

This is another old method of keeping things cool that you can turn to when you don't have ice. So long as you're willing to put in some minor work, it should work out nicely. 

Put Your Water Bottle in the Fridge

This one kind of goes without saying but if you have a fridge you can obviously use this to keep water cold, no ice required.

Put your water bottle in the fridge for several minutes until the water cools down. Depending on how cold your refrigerator gets, it might take a while to get your water cold. 

Putting your bottle in the freezer will cool it down faster.

Put Your Water in a River or Lake

What if you're out camping and you need a convenient method for keeping your water cold? Well, if you have a water source nearby such as a river or lake, then you're in luck. 

Ever been swimming in a river and been shocked at how freezing cold it is? I have many times. This cold can be used to keep your water cold without ice.

It's possible to keep your bottles of water cold by placing them in the river or lake. You need to do things right so that your bottles of water don't get carried away. 

Usually a bit of rope tied securely around the bottle and then attached to a tree or something on the shore will do the trick. Also placing rocks around the water bottle so it can't float away can work.

The water in the river will be colder than the air outside will help to keep your bottles cool, and you'll be able to grab them out when you need a cold drink. 

Use Whatever Method Is Best for Your Situation

If you've got ice then obviously use it, but if you don't have access to ice then hopefully these tips will keep your water from getting warm throughout the day.

Depending on your circumstances it should be pretty easy to pick out the method that makes the most sense based on your circumstances.

Enjoy your cold bottle of water to the fullest.