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woman placing gel ice pack on shoulder

How to Make Homemade Gel Ice Packs for Cold Therapy

If you're suffering from back and neck pain, headaches, or just sore muscles after a tough day at the gym, then chances are you've been advised to use a cold pack. These packs are usually sold in superstores as gel ice packs. They're typically made from a combination of a polymer gel and water. The polymer gel is often a sodium polyacrylate or a similar substance that can absorb and hold water. While they're not super expensive, you can easily make your own at home. In this guide, we'll show you how to make your own gel ice pack.

How to Make a Homemade Gel Ice Pack


person placing gel ice pack on wrist
Credit: Envato Elements/ varyapigu

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make your gel ice pack:

Materials You'll Need

  • 2 Ziploc freezer bags (quart or gallon size)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of rubbing alcohol (70% or 90% isopropyl alcohol)
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • A bowl or container for mixing

Step 1: Prepare the Mixture

In a bowl, combine 2 cups of water and 1 cup of rubbing alcohol. If you want your gel pack to be tinted, add a few drops of food coloring to the mixture and stir well.

Step 2: Prepare the Ziploc Bags

Pour the mixture into the second freezer bag. Seal the bag tightly while removing as much air as possible.

Step 3: Double-Bag for Safety

Place the sealed bag into the second resealable freezer bag to prevent leaks. Seal the second bag tightly, again removing as much air as possible.

Step 4: Freezing the Gel Packs

Lay the filled and sealed bags flat in your freezer. Allow the gel ice packs to freeze completely. Depending on your freezer temperature, this typically takes around 2-3 hours.

Step 5: Use Your Homemade Gel Ice Packs

Once frozen, your homemade gel ice packs are ready to use. They're flexible enough to mold around body parts comfortably. Store the gel packs in the freezer between uses. They can be reused multiple times. When you need relief, take the gel ice pack out of the freezer and wrap it in a cloth or towel before applying it to your skin to avoid frostbite.

Alternative Ways to Make Ice Packs


man placing gel ice pack
Credit: Envato Elements/ varyapigu

If you don't have the materials to make a homemade ice pack, there are several other simple methods to create effective ice packs using common household items:

1) Frozen Sponge Ice Pack


  • A clean sponge
  • A resealable plastic freezer bag


  1. Soak the sponge in water until fully saturated.
  2. Place the wet sponge into a resealable plastic bag.
  3. Seal the bag tightly and place it in the freezer.
  4. Once frozen, you have a flexible and reusable ice pack. Just refreeze after each use.

2) Rice Ice Pack


  • Uncooked rice
  • A clean sock or cloth bag


  1. Fill a clean sock or cloth bag with uncooked rice.
  2. Tie or sew the open end to secure the rice inside.
  3. Place the rice-filled sock or bag in the freezer for a few hours.
  4. This pack molds easily to the body and can be reused. Just refreeze as needed.

3) Saltwater Ice Pack


  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 2 resealable plastic bags


  1. In a bowl, mix 2 cups of water with 1/2 cup of salt.
  2. Pour the mixture into a resealable plastic bag and seal tightly.
  3. Place the sealed bag inside another resealable bag for extra protection.
  4. Freeze the double-bagged mixture. The saltwater prevents the pack from freezing solid, making it flexible and easy to use.

4) Corn Syrup Ice Pack


  • Corn syrup
  • 2 resealable plastic bags


  1. Pour corn syrup directly into a resealable plastic bag.
  2. Seal the bag tightly and place it into another resealable bag for added protection.
  3. Freeze the double-bagged syrup. The corn syrup will remain pliable, even when frozen.

5) Dish Soap Ice Pack


  • Dish soap
  • 2 resealable plastic bags


  1. Pour dish soap directly into a resealable plastic bag. You can adjust the amount based on the size of the ice pack you need.
  2. Seal the bag tightly and place it into another resealable bag for extra protection.
  3. Freeze the double-bagged dish soap. The soap will have a gel-like consistency when frozen, making it a flexible and reusable ice pack.

How to Make a Moist Heat Pack


woman placing wet towel on face
Credit: Envato Elements/ maksymiv

Moist heat packs are great for relieving muscle tension and pain. You can easily make one at home using common household items. Here’s how:


  • A clean cloth or towel
  • A microwave-safe dish
  • Water
  • A resealable plastic bag (optional)


  1. Take a clean cloth or towel and dampen it with water. Ensure it is wet but not dripping.
  2. Place the damp cloth in a microwave-safe dish. This helps to contain any excess moisture.
  3. Microwave the cloth for about 1-2 minutes. Be cautious when removing it, as it will be hot. Microwave times may vary, so adjust as needed to achieve a comfortable heat level.
  4. Carefully remove the heated cloth from the microwave and test the temperature on your wrist. It should be warm, not hot, to avoid burns.
  5. Apply the warm cloth to the affected area for about 15-20 minutes. If the cloth cools down too quickly, you can reheat it in the microwave.
  6. If you prefer, you can place the damp cloth inside a resealable plastic bag before heating. This can help retain moisture and heat longer. Ensure the bag is microwave-safe.


How long can homemade gel ice packs be stored in the freezer?

Several months. Make sure they are properly sealed to prevent freezer burn.

Are homemade gel ice packs safe for children?

Yes, but always supervise their use.

Can I use something other than isopropyl alcohol in the gel mixture?

You can use vodka or grain alcohol but it might not freeze as well.


Making homemade ice packs is a simple process. By following these steps and using common household materials, you can have homemade gel ice packs ready whenever you need them.

Looking for a reliable ice pack? Try Nice Packs dry ice packs. Our packs are easy to use, long-lasting, and perfect for any injury or soreness. Shop with us today.

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