Here are a few different quick and easy projects for having a steady supply of homemade ice packs on hand for assorted uses (soothing minor scrapes, first aid treatments, keeping food and beverages chilled, etc.).
Included also are several budget friendly ideas for keeping the contents of lunch kits and camping coolers nice and cold. Some will be squishy and flexible, others rock solid. I’m certain you’ll find something here that does just the trick!
Homemade Ice / Gel Sack Instructions:
These are squishy so they will mold nicely to body parts (knees, elbows, etc.). They’re also ideal for tossing in the lunch kit without taking up a bunch of space.
First A Few Notes:
- Use freezer bags that zip close. The plastic & seal are more heavy duty with these so you can use them again and again.
- Fill with suggested ingredients, combine well, remove as much air as possible & seal shut.
- Optional: If they’re for the kiddos and they’d like them to be in fun colors, add a few drops of food coloring in any color of choice.
- Toss in the freezer.
- If they are too hard and aren’t slushy, simply allow them to melt and then add more alcohol.
- For extra durability: Once bag is filled, air removed and then closed, insert it seam side down into another ziploc and zip shut.
- For permanent seal (optional): Once frozen, press seam flaps on zipped side with an iron on medium heat (have a layer of aluminum foil or parchment paper between iron and plastic). This will melt the flaps together.
- Another option for permanent closure: vacuum sealers.
There are a few different ways to make them, choose one of the recipes below then follow directions outlined in the notes above…
2 cups water
1/3 cup vodka (80 proof)
1 cup rubbing alcohol
2 cups water
Liquid Dish Detergent
(only up to 3/4 full)
- That’s it! The end result is a nice and flexible pack. Great way to take advantage of syrup that’s past the expiry date.
Single Use Method:
- Prepare jello as directed, pour liquid into bag and freeze. Wait till the jello gets really cold and gels, then it’s ready to use.
The squishy gel sacks above will do a good job, but here are a few more suggestions…
- Just freeze juice boxes the night before and toss in the lunch box, or buy reusable plastic drink boxes and do the same (make sure to leave room when frozen juice expands).
- Salt Slush: Pour into a sandwich ziploc 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of salt. Produces a “slushy” result.
- Mini-Condiments: Throw ketchup, mustard, plum sauce packets into the freezer for mini-packs.
- Fill small, snack-size ziplocs with just water. The end result will be a solid block.
DIY Camping Cooler Ice Blocks:
Fill these about 3/4 full with water, seal then freeze.
- Clean empty plastic pop bottles (nice & tidy because of the caps).
- Large ziploc freezer bags.
- Balloons (because these are larger, they won’t melt quickly).
- Washed milk cartons or jugs.
- Empty food containers with lids (margarine, sour cream, yogurt, etc.).
- Wine box bladder: Once you’ve finished the wine, remove the bladder, take off the nozzle, rinse bladder out well then pour in water (only 3/4 full) and a couple tablespoons of salt (so it won’t form a rock solid block). Or get a little creative by filling instead with a favorite cocktail or punch recipe that contains some alcohol. Take it out one night for drinks around the campfire. Whichever option you choose, make sure this is frozen flat so it will fit comfortably in the cooler.
- Custom Fit 2″ PVC Pipes: Measure & cut pipes to the inner length of the cooler (minus a few inches to allow for end caps), attach and seal PVC end cap with PVC cement (on one end). Allow to dry for a couple hours then fill 3/4 full with water and a tablespoon or two of salt. Attach the other end cap with glue. Stand it up and allow to cure for 2 hours. Shake it up then place in the freezer.
Need Something In A Jiffy?
- You can use a package of frozen vegetables (peas, hashbrowns or corn work best since pieces are small and form perfectly around elbows, knees, etc.).
- Toss some ice (crushed or cubed) into a bag, add cold water, remove air, close, insert closed side down in another ziploc, seal, then apply.
First Aid Helpers:
These are nice to help soothe headaches, muscle aches, bumps, bruises, strains and more.
- Run a washcloth or clean sponge under the tap, don’t squeeze but allow excess liquid to drip out then tuck into a ziploc and throw in the freezer. They’ll become flexible as they thaw a bit.
- Frozen sacks full of uncooked grains, rice or beans conform nicely to the body.
- Also, don’t forget about this great tip for making microwave heating pads, they can also be chilled and used as a cold compress (suitable for first aid treatments).
Tip: To protect skin from the extreme cold, wrap the packs in a small towel or sew little homemade fabric pouches to hold them. Depending on their size, they can also be covered with a clean sock.