Quick Tip: Reusable Ice Packs

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Heather says:

I recently returned to the gym and partly due to my over enthusiasm, I have come down with a nice case of shin splints.  Part of the treatment is to ice my shins three times a day for twenty minutes.   I decided to test a trick I had stumbled across several times in the past.

Fill a 1 qt freezer bag with ice cubes and add approximately 1/4 cup isopropyl alcohol.  Don’t worry about measuring, just eyeball it.   Use and refreeze as necessary.  I wrap the bags in a kitchen towel to keep the condensation from dripping onto my clothing.  So far they work perfectly and are wonderfully cold.

Remember to only use these under adult supervision as small children may be tempted to chew on the ice pack.

*Edited to add* The alcohol lowers the freezing point of the water.  When you toss the ice melts it mixes with the alcohol. When the water and alcohol mixture is placed back in the freezer it becomes a very cold slush rather than a solid block of ice.

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12 thoughts on “Quick Tip: Reusable Ice Packs”

  1. I have found it can be useful to use pot holders or oven mitts…..just slide the bag in those and close with a rubberband…..then you don’t have to keep rearranging it as it tends to slide out of the towel…Pam

  2. Pam, that is a great idea!
    Would you believe I don’t have a single pot holder or oven mitt? I use bar towels for my kitchen towels and fold them over for hot pads.

  3. When I played softball and we had all day tournaments our coaches and mothers would mix water, ice and ammonia to keep us cool and for aches and pains. It was wonderful and smelled good in a weird kinda way. LOL

  4. How do you keep the bag from getting punctured if you’re freezing and re-freezing? Wouldn’t it wear out after awhile? Would you advise double-bagging it? I think this is a great idea. In fact, I’d like to link to this post but could find a “link to this” link on the website. Are you not set up for such linking?


  5. After my mom had knee surgery, her physical therapist told her to forget the fancy ice machine & use the ice + water + rubbing alcohol trick instead. We would draper her knee with towels & then form a nest of rolled towels to cradle the ice pack. I think we only used two different gallon sized ziplocks during the month I stayed with her.

  6. This is a great icing method buy be careful with this…you should ice with this method for short periods of time. The ice gets so cold that you could easily cause damage to the area!

  7. Leah – answered in email
    Bramble – that sounds heavenly, I will try that. I’m heading back to the gym tonight. I’m hoping to have healed enough for a lower impact workout.
    Stephanie – great point. I’m doing a rotation of 20 minutes of icing 40 minutes off throughout the day, as recommended to reduce inflammation. Additionally a towel and clothing prevent direct contact with skin.
    What I really like is how the ice packs are cold enough that they can be wrapped and maintain their effectiveness.

  8. incase youre wondering, the principle that makes this rubbing alcohol and water mixture do its things it is the same reason salt melts ice and snow off the roads and sidewalks in the winter. by “dilluting” the h2o you are lowering the freezing temp of the water, causing the water to have to be even colder than the maximum 32 degrees fahrenheit to remain in a solid state


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