7 Easy Ways To Make Your Own Gel Ice Pack

Making your own gel ice pack can be quick, easy and cheap and can be a great way to treat injuries or to keep your lunch cold. Often they can be made with items you already have laying around your house too.

Why go out there and spend $10-$15 on an ice pack when you can make one at home that is just as good if not better?

Here are 7 easy ways to make your own gel ice pack at home with just a couple of ingredients and a zip lock back.

First, What Makes a Gel Ice Pack Work?

The science behind gel ice packs is extremely simple and understanding how it works will allow you to make a gel pack of the exact consistency you want.

Water freezes solid at 32°F (0°C) and around this temperature or slightly higher water gets partially frozen and gets that slushy consistency you want in a gel ice pack.

However, the average home freezer is set to 0°F (-18°C) which turns water into a solid block of ice which doesn’t mold easily.

The goal of most ice packs is to lower the freezing temperature of the liquid to 0°F (-18°C) or lower. So even when it’s put in a freezer it won’t completely freeze solid.

Or they work to disperse the water to stop it forming into one solid chunk so it can be more easily broken up and molded to the body.

1. Salt Water (12:1 Ratio)

Ingredients:

  • Ziplock bag
  • 8 oz hot water water
  • 4 teaspoons of salt
  • Food dye (optional)

Salt water has a lower freezing temperature than regular water. This is one of the easiest, cheapest and safest ways to make a gel ice pack at home.

Fill up an 8 oz cup with hot water (hot water helps the salt dissolve) and then add in 4 tablespoons of salt.

Stir the water until the salt completely dissolves.

Add in food coloring if you want to make your ice pack a certain color. Most people choose blue as this is a way to tell people “don’t eat this!”

Pour the salt water into a ziplock back and place in the freezer. Double bag it if you wish to have that extra protection against spills.

As every freezer is a little different you’ll want to see how it freezes and if you’re happy with the consistency.

If it’s freezing too solid then add more salt, if it’s completely liquid and you want a more slushy consistency then add more water.

2. Baby Diapers

Ingredients:

  • 1 baby diaper
  • 3.5 cups of water
  • Ziplock bag

Baby diapers are full of super absorbant polymer (SAP) which can work great to make ice packs because it stops the water from forming a solid frozen chunk.

To make this type of gel ice pack open up a FRESH NEW diaper (let’s not be gross here) and fill it with 3 or so cups of water.

Leave it for a little bit to let all the water be absorbed by the SAP in the diaper.

Then cut open the diaper and scoop out the insides and place into a bowl.

Add food coloring if you want to get that blue color you find in most gel packs.

Now scoop the wet SAP crystals into a ziplock bag, remove the air, seal it up and freeze it.

Video Instructions:

3. Isopropyl Alcohol (4:1 Ratio)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (8 oz) of water
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz) of isopropyl alcohol
  • Ziplock bag

Isopropyl alcohol (or rubbing alcohol) won’t freeze in a normal freezer. In fact it needs to reach −128 °F (−89°C) in order to freeze into a solid. So mixing it with 4 parts water for every 1 part alcohol should give you a good slushy consistency.

Simply pour your cup of water 4 tablespoons of isopropyl alcohol into a ziplock bag, push of the air and seal it up and you’re done.

Add some food coloring if you want to make your gel packs blue.

Now place in the freezer. Adjust the amount of water or alcohol if you need to change the consistency.

PLEASE NOTE: Of all the home made ice packs this is has the potential to be the most toxic if swallowed. Learn more about whether or not gel ice packs are toxic.

4. Dish Soap

Ingredients:

  • Dish soap
  • Ziplock bag

This one is SUUUUPER easy. Dish soap doesn’t freeze like water does and it’s already usually colored already. Get blue dish soap if you want your gel pack to be blue.

Simply pour the dishwashing liquid into a ziplock bag and place in the freezer.

Easy peasy.

Video Instructions:

5. Salt Water and Corn Starch

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 3/4 cup corn starch
  • food dye (optional)

This gel pack has a very nice smooth consistency and is thicker and more malleable than some of the other ice packs above which can sometimes just stay as a complete liquid.

The salt helps to lower the freezing temperature of the gel pack and the corn starch helps to make the more viscous compared to other ice packs.

Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a saucepan and then add in the salt stirring until it is dissolved. Add in food coloring if desired.

Now add in the corn starch and continually whisk until it begins to form a thick gluggy consistency. This will happen quickly so keep watching it.

Once this consistency is reached take the saucepan off the heat and leave to cool for a bit.

Then scoop the liquid into a ziplock bag and seal. Double bag it for extra protection from spills and then place in the freezer.

Video Instructions:

6. Rice In a Sock

Ingredients:

  • 1 sock (preferrably clean)
  • 1kg of rice
  • Soft fluffy sock (optional)

This is a really easy method for making a hot/cold pack that you can either freeze or warm up.

Take a sock and fill it with rice. Depending on the size of the sock will depend on how much rice you need.

Once filled tie a knot in the end of the sock so the rice can’t escape. Double tie it or add elastic bands for good measure.

You rice sock ice pack is now ready to use but you can take the extra step of adding a soft fluffy sock to the outside as a washable cover.

Video Instructions:

7. Sponge Filled With Water

Ingredients:

  • 1 sponge
  • 1 bowl of water
  • Ziplock bag

This one isn’t a perfect ice pack as initially when you get it out of the freezer it will be rock hard, but as it starts to defrost it will become quite flexible fairly quickly.

To make simple take a household sponge and place it it in a bowl of water or run it under the sink to let the water soak in.

Then place your sponge in a ziplock bag and seal it up. You can now place it in the freezer.

As I said this will freeze solid but as it defrosts it will become quite flexible, much more than a regular block of ice.

Video Instructions:

BONUS: Instant Ice Pack

Ingredients:

  • Ice
  • Water
  • Ziplock bag

If you quickly need a ice pack and don’t have one pre-prepared then pour some cold water and some ice cubes into a ziplock bag and seal it up.

This can be molded to the body for injuries and will be cold quite quickly.

As it warms up simply top it up with fresh ice.

Which Ice Pack Do You Like Best?

Which Homemade Gel Ice Pack Do You Like Best?

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