The Complete Guide To Ice Baths At Home: Ice, DIY Chest Freezer, Chiller System

This guide covers the full spectrum of ways you can ice bath at home– Using ice, a repurposed chest freezer, or a dedicated chiller and tub. As technology has advanced to give users more options, this guide is for people looking to do ice baths at home and considering which method is most suitable.


Summary: Ice baths are not new, and the most traditional way to do it is using ice, and a vessel which can contain the ice and water. It's quick, no-frills, but is a whole mess. Next up, we have the chest freezer, which is the beginnings of using refrigeration and electrical components to cool on demand. Retrofitting a chest freezer is possible, but is not without its dangers. And lastly, we have next-generation technology which is taking the world by storm: An all-in-one chiller tub combination which circulates and cools water with full level of control and customisation. This is a dedicated purpose-built product for ice baths, all you have to do is wait. It tackles the problems that arise from the other two methods, and is an investment to your health.

Photo: Shutterstock

1. Conventional Method: Using Ice

To prepare the ice bath, fill half of a bathtub or inflatable pool with water.
Add approximately a quarter of the bath's volume with ice, which typically amounts to using 5-8 bags of ice. Leave some space to prevent overflowing when you plunge.
Use a thermometer to monitor the water temperature and wait for about 15 minutes until it reaches the optimal range of 5 to 15 degrees. Standby additional bags of ice to replenish the ice bath for it to keep it at your desired temperature.

PROS:
  • Rapid chilling: Ice baths can quickly chill water in as little as 15 minutes.
  • Affordable initial investment: With a cheap inflatable pool and thermometer, ice is the main recurring cost. In the short run, manual ice baths have the most accessible price point for those who want to start incorporating ice baths into their daily routine.
CONS:
  • Single use only: At the end of the session, drain all the melted ice which has now become water.
  • Messy: Whenever ice is involved, puddles of condensation and melted water will occur where the ice is placed. If you are planning to buy it from a store nearby, prepare some trays in your car to catch any water. Depending on the quality of your inflatable tub or pool, watch for water spilling out of the tub.
  • Inflexible timing and logistics: Ice must be used immediately after purchase or delivery, leaving little flexibility in timing before it starts to melt. If the delivery is made early or delayed, it could mess up your plans.
  • Limited temperature control: Using ice to chill the bath can result in uneven temperature distribution, creating hot and cold pockets. The water temperature rises by 1-2 degrees with each plunge, affecting its overall effectiveness.
Photo: Shutterstock

2. Repurposing a Chest Freezer

Start by removing any built-in shelves and thoroughly clean the chest-freezer to allow for a more hygienic ice bath experience.

Apply a sealant like silicon to ensure the freezer is watertight and to prevent any possible leakage. Pay special attention to the edges of the interior of the bath and plugs and areas where plugs are and electricity flows.

Fill the chest freezer with water to your desired depth, keeping in mind not to overfill it, as you need to account for the additional volume your body will occupy when you enter the bath.

You have two options for prechilling the ice bath. You can either turn the freezer on a timer and set it to your desired temperature in advance, allowing it to chill before your ice bath session. Alternatively, you can add ice directly to the water at the time of your ice bath.

NOTE: As a safety precaution, unplug the electricity before entering the bath.

PROS:

  • Cost-Effective: Chest freezers serve as a budget-friendly option compared to cold water immersion systems.
  • Dedicated Cold Plunge Facility: As a dedicated cold plunge solution, chest freezers offer a more permanent and reliable alternative to inflatable pools. You can dose the water with sanitizers like chlorine or rig up an ozone pump to maintain clean water, enabling multiple uses.

CONS:

  • Potential Electricity Dangers: Utilizing a chest freezer as an ice bath poses inherent dangers, particularly if water comes into contact with electricity.
  • Space and Transport Challenges: Due to their substantial size, chest freezers occupy a significant amount of space, making them less practical for certain settings. Additionally, their bulky nature makes it inconvenient to move about.
  • Difficult To Drain: Emptying a chest freezer manually and draining the water can be a challenging process, requiring extra effort and time.
  • Accessibility Issues: The height of a chest freezer can create difficulties when entering and exiting the tub, potentially posing inconvenience and discomfort.
  • Hygiene Concerns: Dirt and slim will build up in stagnant water, the freezer must be drained and cleaned regularly.

3. ThriveX Cold Immersion System

ThriveX’s Cold Immersion System is a next-generation cold plunge, requiring minimal setup and maintenance. The ThriveX Cold Immersion System is self-cleaning with a double filtration system and ozone sanitiser. It is a viable option for both single use and multiple plunges.

To get started, utilize the double-action hand pump to inflate the tub. Pick a spot to place your tub and chiller and locate a water outlet to fill up the tub.

Plug in your chiller and turn it on using the control panel, or download the ThriveX app to begin chilling your cold plunge.

Pro-tip! You can access the settings for the chiller anytime and anywhere via the ThriveX app. You can also plan ahead and pre-chill via scheduling on the ThriveX app.

Wait for the cold plunge to reach your desired temperature.

Stay informed and in control as you monitor the cold plunge’s temperature through the ThriveX app or on the control panel display.

PROS:
  • Temperature Precision: Utilize the ThriveX app or the control panel display for precise temperature control, enabling you to set the bath to your preferred level effortlessly.
  • Portability: Deflate the tub and conveniently pack it into a large backpack; the chiller's wheels further enhance portability, making the entire cooler system easy to transport.
  • Clean and Sanitary: The system comes with built-in double filtration and ozone sanitization system, allowing for multiple uses.
  • Easy Drainage: The system drains easily by directing the extendable hose on the chiller to a nearest point, allowing the chiller to pump all the water out.
  • Convenience at Your Fingertips: Pre-chill or schedule the cooling process from your phone, ensuring the tub is ready for use whenever you desire.
  • Low recurrent costs: Each use only requires minimal expenses for water and electricity, typically amounting to just a few dollars, subject to local rates.
CONS:
  • High initial investment: The cold immersion system requires a significant initial cost, but incurs a negligible recurring cost.
  • Extended chilling time: The cold plunge takes time to chill to your desired temperature, some wait time is involved, which can be mitigated with minimal planning.

 

 

Conventional Ice

DIY Chest Freezer

ThriveX Cold Immersion System

Cost

Cheapest

$100-$500 for inflatable pool

$30-$80 for ice each time

Moderate

Up to $1000 for chest freezer, and another $300-$500 for tools, pumps, and accessories.

Pro
6990 SGD / 5190 USD /  26,739 SAR

Standard
4990 SGD / 3590 USD / 19,088 SAR

Time

Fast but requires planning and effort every time

Plan for buying or ordering ice, 15 mins for ice to chill water

Slowest

Overnight pre-chill

Fast and reliable

3 hours (Pro)
5 hours (Standard)

Convenience

Least convenient

Messy, one time use, unpredictable

Moderate

If you are handy at DIY and hacking things together, it can be quite convenient

Most convenient

Plunge whenever you want, set it and forget it.

Suited for

Those who want to try ice baths on a budget.

Plan a group activity and make your one-off effort worth it with a bunch of friends.

Those who are good with being hands-on.

For those have the space for a serious setup and confident to make it themselves.

Those who want to do ice baths at least once a day, and want to develop a routine with control over temperature and settings.