RESOURCES: 5 ways to make homemade ice packs

Photo courtesy of The Make Your Own Zone

I’ve got five easy ways that you can make a homemade ice pack and they’re all easy to do with using common household items that can be put in ziploc bags and then popped in the freezer.   If you want  a little extra security against leakage, you can also double bag your ice packs by putting the ziploc bag inside a second ziploc bag, with the zippered side facing down toward the bottom.  And one of the methods is even easier – just use a wet sponge!

1.  Corn Syrup

Corn syrup (here’s a highly recommended brand) makes an excellent gel type of ice pack.  It stays nice and squishy and flexible and doesn’t change texture or color in the freezer.  It also contains nothing harmful if it would accidentally puncture or leak in a lunch, aside from things getting a little sticky.   It can be made using any size ziploc bag.  Simply pour some corn syrup into the bag, seal, and put in the freezer for several hours.  This is my favorite method for making a homemade ice pack and I keep one in the freezer all the time.  It’s especially good for injuries because it stays flexible and can be molded around ankles, knees, wrists or other sore areas.

2.  Dish Soap

Dish soap (I recommend Dawn Blue since it can be used to make lots of other DIY things) makes a simple homemade ice pack and depending on how long you leave it in the freezer, it can be more gel like and flexible or firmer and icier.  I prefer to take it back out of the freezer after just 2 hours because then it will still be flexible and squishy (much like the corn syrup). If you leave the dish soap ice pack in the freezer for longer than a couple hours, it will be much more icy and firm.  So the time frame for this method is more important, depending on what type of ice pack you want. Either way, it’s a simple method that can be made in any size ziploc bag by just pouring in dish soap.  No measuring is needed.  I’ve tried this method with both Dawn dish soap and Ajax dish soap which both worked well, and I would think that other brands of dish soap should work for making an ice pack too.

3.  Rubbing Alcohol

The addition of rubbing alcohol to water will keep it from freezing completely which makes it an easy way to create a homemade ice pack.  To make this method in a quart size ziploc bag, combine 1½ cups of water with a ½ cup of rubbing alcohol.  Seal and put in the freezer for several hours or overnight. I made this version in the smaller snack size ziploc bags and simply cut the recipe in half, combining ¾ cup water with ¼ cup of the rubbing alcohol.

4.  Salt

For a really cheap and easy DIY ice pack, simply add some ordinary table salt to water. Salt is another ingredient that when added to water will keep it from freezing completely. Use a sandwich size or quart size ziploc bag and add 2 tablespoons of salt to 2 cups of water.  Seal and put in the freezer for several hours or overnight.

5.  Sponge

Finally, you can create an ice pack by using a clean sponge, getting it wet with water and putting it in the freezer. This is a good method for an ice pack for lunches as it’s just water with no other possibly harmful substances.  The sponge will be hard and firm with no flexibility when first taken out of the freezer.  As it warms up it becomes moist and soft again, but not drippy.  You can put it in a baggie if you want, but it isn’t absolutely necessary.

If you’re looking for homemade heating pads instead, try this post.