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3 Super Easy Ways To Make A Homemade Ice Pack

One way to make homemade ice pack is to use rubbing alcohol in a ziplock bag and put it in the freezer. Wrap with a kitchen towel before applying to skin.

These Homemade Gel Ice Packs Are So Handy To Have Around!

While raising four kids (or any kids for that matter), you get used to dealing with sprains, strains, and other minor injuries. Between football, basketball, skateboarding, snowboarding, and dance, I’ve sat with my kids in plenty of clinic waiting rooms and emergency room lobbies over the years!

Somewhere along the line, I learned to use R.I.C.E. when dealing with “soft tissue” injuries. No, not the rice you keep in your pantry—the R.I.C.E. treatment they teach for first aid!

R.I.C.E. stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, the conditions recommended by doctors to ease discomfort and speed up recovery from minor injuries. And since we moms are often the “nurses” when our kids are injured, speedy is the type of recovery we’re usually hoping for! :-)

Related: These Are The Most Useful DIYs For Summer Woes

A DIY Pliable Ice Pack conforms to the part of the body that needs it. Wrap it in a cloth before applying to the body.

Why It’s Important To Ice An Injury

Icing an injury with a cold pack in 20-minute increments is an important part of the R.I.C.E. treatment, helping to reduce swelling and keep pain under control. This post will help make icing an injury easier, because you’ll learn how to make a DIY ice pack using common household items.

Not only will keeping one in your freezer mean you’re always prepared for unforeseen injuries, but you won’t have to resort to a bag of chunky ice cubes or frozen peas either!

How To Make A Homemade Ice Pack: 3 Easy Options

To Make A DIY Pliable Ice Pack, use one half water and one half rubbing alcohol in a ziplock bag.

Option #1: Alcohol Ice Pack

The quickest and easiest way to make a DIY ice pack is to use rubbing alcohol. Combine 1 part rubbing alcohol with 1 part water in a ziplock freezer bag, then squeeze as much of the air out of the bag as possible and zip it closed.

Put the bag in your freezer until it’s icy, then it’ll be ready to use. The rubbing alcohol will prevent the water from freezing solid, making it malleable and easy to conform to any area of the body.

A DIY ice pack made with dish soap is ready to use in about two hours, but it will freeze harder than the other two methods.

Option #2: Dish Soap Ice Pack (Homemade Gel Ice Pack)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s very little you can’t accomplish with Dawn dish soap, and that includes making a malleable homemade ice pack! Pour dish soap into a ziplock bag until there’s enough to form a thick layer if the bag were lying flat, then zip the bag closed and freeze it.

If you want it to be more flexible and gel-like — like a blue gel ice pack — remove it from the freezer and apply to the injury after about 2 hours. The longer you freeze it, the less malleable it will be (though it won’t solidify completely).

A DIY ice pack can be made with corn syrup and it stays pliable in the freezer so you can always have an ice pack ready to go. Double bag the syrup because a leak would be a big mess!

Option #3: Corn Syrup Ice Pack

Corn syrup makes another useful medium for a homemade ice pack. Just fill a ziplock freezer bag about halfway full of corn syrup, zip it closed, and stick it in your freezer until it firms up.

The “frozen” corn syrup stays slushy and flexible, so this is a great choice if you’re making one to keep in your freezer just in case. (One obvious drawback is that the corn syrup would create an incredibly sticky mess if the bag got ripped or punctured, so I would double-bag this one, for safety’s sake!)

To Make A DIY Pliable Ice Pack, just pour your preferred liquid into a ziplock bag and put it in the freezer.

Which Homemade Ice Pack Is Best?

I think all three options have their merits, so I say use whichever method you have the supplies to make! If you’re in need of an ice pack ASAP, I’d suggest the 2nd option, since the dish soap ice pack only needs to be frozen for a couple of hours before it’s ready to use.

If you’re making an ice pack to keep in your freezer just in case, you can’t go wrong with the 1st or 3rd options. They’ll stay more malleable than the dish soap, so you can wrap them around ankles, knees, or wrists right away without having to wait for them to thaw out first.

You can also use a vacuum sealer to make a diy ice pack.

How To Use Your Homemade Ice Pack

After a minor injury, apply an ice pack as soon as possible. Icing early and often for the first 24-48 hours will help minimize swelling and reduce pain, both of which will aid in the recovery process.

Cold packs can also be useful for chronic conditions, like muscle injuries related to overuse. In these cases, icing the affected area after activity and exercise can help control inflammation and speed up recovery.

Keep in mind that icing isn’t useful for every type of injury! For instance, you shouldn’t use ice to treat muscle or joint stiffness, and those with poor circulation should avoid icing as well. In these cases, heat therapy (like a heating pad) would be a better choice.

Related: How To Make A Homemade Antibacterial Ointment

4 Bonus Tips For Using Ice Packs

Whichever DIY Pliable Ice Pack you choose, make sure to wrap it in a tea towel before applying it to the injured area.

1. Wrap It To Protect Your Skin

You always want to wrap an ice pack in a kitchen towel before applying it to an injury. Placing ice or something frozen directly against skin can cause damage to the skin and tissues. (You’re trying to cool the injured area, not freeze it!)

To guard against leaks, double bag your DIY Ice Pack

2. Beware Of Leaks

To avoid major messes, it’s a good idea to take additional measures to avoid your ice pack from leaking. If you’re using a ziplock bag, choose freezer bags (which are thicker) and put one inside another for an added layer of protection.

If you have a FoodSaver or other type of vacuum sealer, use it to seal your homemade ice pack. The seal will be quite sturdy, and the vacuum bag will likely be much stronger than standard ziplock bags to begin with.

Label your DIY Ice Pack before putting it in the freezer.

3. Label It (Or Make It Look Distinctive)

You don’t want to accidentally mistake your ice pack for frozen food, or vice versa! Make sure your ice pack is easy to identify by labelling the bag clearly before you fill it. You could also add a few drops of vivid food coloring to make it visually distinctive from other things in your freezer, but that’s totally optional.

The beauty of making your own homemade ice packs is that you can use different sized bags to make ice packs for every need -- small ones for eyes, large ones for backs, etc.

4. Try Different Sizes

Not every injury is going to require a gallon-sized ice pack, so you may want to consider making homemade ice packs in different sizes if you’re going to keep them on hand. Gallon-size bags work well for ankles and wrists, while a quart-size bag would be a more appropriate size for sprained fingers or toes.

For more useful home remedies, check out my Natural Remedies category page.

What’s your best tip or trick for minor injuries?

One way to make homemade ice pack is to use rubbing alcohol in a ziplock bag and put it in the freezer. Wrap with a kitchen towel before applying to skin.

Homemade Ice Packs (Step by Step)

Jill Nystul
Need an ice pack for an injury? Learn three easy ways to make a homemade ice pack.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Freezing Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Yield 1 homemade ice pack

Equipment

  • Ziplock Bag

Ingredients
  

Alcohol Ice Pack

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups rubbing alcohol

Dish Soap Gel Ice Pack

  • 1.5 cups dish soap

Corn Syrup Ice Pack

  • 2 cups corn syrup

Instructions
 

Alcohol Ice Pack

  • Mix 1 part rubbing alcohol with 1 part water in a ziplock freezer bag, then squeeze as much air out as possible.
    To Make A DIY Pliable Ice Pack, just pour your preferred liquid into a ziplock bag and put it in the freezer.
  • Zip it closed and put it in your freezer until icy.

Dish Soap Gel Ice Pack

  • Fill a ziplock bag with dish soap until there’s enough to form a thick layer when it lies flat.
    A DIY ice pack made with dish soap is ready to use in about two hours, but it will freeze harder than the other two methods.
  • Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible, then seal the bag and freeze it for 2 hours.

Corn Syrup Ice Pack

  • Fill a ziplock freezer bag about halfway full of corn syrup.
    A DIY ice pack can be made with corn syrup and it stays pliable in the freezer so you can always have an ice pack ready to go. Double bag the syrup because a leak would be a big mess!
  • Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible, then seal the bag and freeze it.

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  • Great post! Well written, accurate, and very helpful. As a physician at a children’s camp, we used many ice packs and improvised a few. We quickly learned that kids will eat ANYTHING, including the contents of cold gel packs. Although I love all your ideas, the corn syrup pack would be the safest option. The other two might make great ice packs, but would be quite toxic if sampled or eaten. “Curiosity killed the cat”, but don’t let it kill your child!

  • My kids and i made these but used our foodsaver to bag them. We double bagged. Then,we mad little covers to go over them in their favorite fabric. My youngest did a Thomas one.

  • I am mother of 5 and Gran mother of 3 and 3/4 :-))) the last gran child arrives in 3 to 4 weeks. And this tip will be very helpful. Our second son is in medicine in the university and during the holidays he works in poor regions of the world and this tip will help him out to.
    Best regards from Switzerland
    Brigitte

  • We have been making these for years. My hubby has EMT training and this was a solution in one of his courses. But we always wet a kitchen towel with hot water to wrap around the pack before putting it on the injury. Works great.

  • Thanks for this. I’ll be adding a “RICE” note on the inside of the medicine cabinet door to remember this. It will go right under the “BRAT” {bananas, rice, applesauce, toast} note for the diet when coming off of a stomach virus.
    I wonder how many more of these acronyms are out there.

  • It’s interesting that Barbara should the contenders bags. My mom made,them for everyone for Christmas one year. They are the best. In our family we call them bed
    Buddies. They smell like popcorn when they’re warm, but they also stay warm. These are also nice for travel. I’ve had a few times when we are ready to travel and my
    hormonal stuff is acting up. It beats trying to. hunt for a place to plug in the heating pad.

  • I made one of these on the advice of a friend who is a chiropractor, and he specified FREEZER bags, and also said to add a couple of drops of blue food coloring so it wouldn’t be mistaken for water ice. I have my own advice based on first hand experience: Use duct tape on all four sides to reinforce the seams and seal. I was sitting in the car with the cold pack while my husband drove me to an appointment and started to smell rubbing alcohol. One of the side seams had given way, and I arrived at my destination with my white pants wet and splotched with blue. The stains came out in the wash without problems, but I will label the cold packs with Sharpie in the future instead of adding the food color.

  • Use freezer bags, they are sturdier. Keep at least two of each size, quart and gallon, in the freezer. That way, you will have one to change out when the first one becomes warmer. Good for bad headaches, dental surgeries, injuries, burns, and even nausea (on forehead.) I liked the idea of sewing a flannel cover, I think I will do that!

  • Jillee, thank you for yet another practical DIY post! Our kids are grown and living on their own, but we find we need these things for ourselves more than we used to. I will be putting together 1 or 2 to have ready in the freezer. Thanks, Barbara, for your note about using 70% (or less, I guess) alcohol. I was wondering if the stronger rubbing alcohol would work. Now we all know!

  • I usually have frozen peas or corn in the freezer and find that they work just as well. I keep one special bag in a cloth cover so we don’t use them for consumption.

  • I do this all the time. Don’t use over 70% alcohol. It doesn’t freeze correctly. Sew up a nice little flannel cover. It’s just enough protection for the skin while still letting the area get good and cold. The bags will leak over time. Double bagging helps. Put the filled bag in upside down in the second bag. I recently got a food vacuum sealer. I’m going to try sealing the bags with that machine. (without vacuuming it of course.) Maybe that will solve the leaking problem.!

    Also, great for dorm rooms. The fit nicely in the dorm size freezers. My daughter twisted her knee, and this was a real life saver!

  • I am so glad you posted this “recipe” as my husband is about to have rotator cuff surgery and I had lost my recipe for the amounts of alcohol and water ratio. I thank you so much. I have a folder filled with a lot of your ideas for cleaning and ideas.

  • I’ve done this before, but I have to laugh at myself!
    When I first saw the title of this post in email, I tried to picture using pennies for an ice pack, or pennies needing an ice pack. LOL…

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