How to Make a DIY Cold Plunge/Ice Bath

Ice baths or cold plunges have quickly gained popularity in the fitness world. The reason for this is quite simple: cold plunges come with many different physical benefits, especially as far as recovery from intense exercise is concerned but also general well-being.

With that being said, if you want to try cold plunging at home, you can make your own ice bath.

Sure, purchasing a professionally-made ice bath is an option, but the full-size insulated tubs can be very expensive so we are going to show you how to make your own ice bath.

We will show you one DIY option using a chest freezer, but you can use any tub-shaped product to create your ice bath.

However, first, we're going to take a quick look at what exactly a cold plunge or ice bath is, so you can find out whether or not it's right for you to begin with.


What is a DIY Ice Bath/Cold Plunge

What is a DIY Ice Bath/Cold Plunge

A do-it-yourself cold plunge or DIY ice bath is when you make your own ice bath at home.

For those who don't know what an ice bath is, this is a therapeutic recovery practice that has you submerged in ice-cold water for a short time.

This is a very old practice that has been used for many hundreds of years, with the reason being that it comes with many different health benefits. Ice baths are well known for their potential to reduce inflammation, pain, and muscle soreness.

Related Post: Cold Plunge Benefits: Enhance Your Health & Wellness

At the same time, they are also able to improve circulation to your muscles which makes ice baths an excellent recovery tool to help you recover post workout.

If you don't want to purchase an expensive full scale ice bath which can easily cost a few thousand dollars for a high quality model.

Of course, what we are talking about is making your own DIY ice bath or cold plunge, something we'll take a much closer look at further below.


How Large Should a DIY Ice Bath Be?

What you need to realize is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for how large an ice bath should be. How large your DIY cold plunge tub should be really depends on your own size. The smaller you are, the smaller your ice bath can be.

For most people, any kind of tub or container that is five feet in length and around two feet deep and two feet wide should be enough.

If you plan on fully submerging yourself, and possibly even your head, then you might want to consider something bigger. Furthermore, if you prefer sitting upright even standing up in your ice bath, there are options that can accommodate this.

Therefore, when you ask yourself how big an ice bath should be, you really need to consider whether you want to lay down in it, sit upright, or even stand up.

Generally, a reclined or seated position is recommended because it's both accessible and comfortable.

For the most part, standing ice baths are not overly safe, because there's always a risk of falling down.

Related Post: How Long Should you Use Cold Plunge For?

DIY Ice Baths and Plumbing

Something else you should keep in mind before creating any kind of DIY ice bath or cold plunge tub is plumbing.

For instance, if you want to make life easier, you should include some kind of drainage system.

You don't want to have to use a bucket or some kind of siphon to constantly fill and empty the tub.

Having some kind of simple valve or drainage system at the bottom that is connected to a hose, which leads to a drain, can make your life a whole lot easier.

You might also consider installing some filtration and recirculation systems. A filtration system will help prevent any kind of bacteria from developing in the water.

A recirculation system will help keep the water nice and cold while also maintaining consistent temperatures.


What About Converting My Bathtub into an Ice Bath?

Yes, it is technically a possibility to convert your regular bathtub into an ice bath. With that being said, there are several other DIY options that are better, because bathtubs do have their issues.

First and foremost, if you still plan on using your bathtub for bathing and showering, it means that you'll have to fill it cold water and ice every time.

This is of course very time-consuming and not very cost effective either. There's also the fact that bathtubs are usually quite shallow and aren't well insulated.

This means that immersing your whole body, even your head, can be a challenge due to the small size.

Maintaining very cold temperatures for prolonged periods can also be challenging due to this lack of insulation.

Therefore, it might be best for you to create your own DIY ice bath at home. One of the best methods at your disposal here is to create your own ice bath using a chest freezer.

Related Post: How Cold Should an Ice Bath Be?


Creating Your Own Chest Freezer Cold Plunge

Chest Freezer Cold Plunge

One of the most common ways to build your own DIY cold plunge at home is by using a chest freezer.

If you have an old chest freezer laying around, repurposing it into a DIY ice bath is a perfect option.

A chest freezer makes for such a perfect option because it's already very well insulated as they are designed to keep things cold. 

At the same time, it also allows for great cost effectiveness, particularly if you already have one laying around.

With that being said, there are some things you want to do to improve the insulation, to allow for good drainage, and to seal the lid to keep the cold in when the ice bath is not in use.

Something that we do, however, need to note is that there are some safety concerns to be aware of. For instance, you never want to get in the chest freezer if it is still plugged in.

You also want to ensure that you have some kind of safety method in place, such as another person, to prevent the lip from closing while you're inside.

You obviously don't want to get locked inside of your chest freezer while trying to take a relaxing cold bath.


What You Need for a DIY Chest Freezer Ice Bath

First, let's take a look at all of the different tools and materials that you'll need to create your own DIY chest freezer ice bath at home.

  • You'll require a chest freezer, which if you purchase from about $500 (£400).
  • To install your ice bath, you'll need installation tools, such as screwdrivers, hammer, saws, and other such tools.
  • You'll also want to purchase some sealing materials, such as silicone caulk to create a water-tight drain.
  • A waterproof coating or liner.

Optional Extras:

  • A submersible pump, which may cost you up to $100.
  • A GFCI outlet, is generally about $20.
  • A smart plug or timer, can cost about $20.
  • A water filtration system, which may cost you up to $70.
  • A drainage system, which can cost between $20 and $50.
  • A recirculation system or chiller, will likely cost about $600.
  • You'll also need ice, which depending on how much you want to use your ice bath, could cost anywhere between $1000 and $8000 every year.


How to Build a DIY Ice Chest Cold Plunge Tub

How to Build a DIY Ice Chest Cold Plunge Tub

Let's now go through clear step-by-step instructions on how to build your own DIY ice chest cold plunge tub.

  1. Make sure to choose a chest freezer that is large enough to fit you and your needs.
  2. Next, you'll need to choose an area in your home that has enough space for your ice chest and has a drain close by. If you want a chiller or recirculation system, then you will also need a power outlet.
  3. If your freezer isn't new, clean it so that it doesn't have any debris or odours left in it.
  4. To allow for proper drainage, you'll then want to cut a hole into the bottom of the freezer. Make sure that the hole is the proper size for the drainage system that you have bought and use a sealant to ensure it is water-tight.
  5. Connect a hose or piping for water disposal.
  6. If you choose to use a submersible pump on the inside of the freezer to help recirculate water this is a good time to install it along with the filtration system which will help keep the water clean for longer.
  7. If desired, you can also put non-slip mats inside of the chest freezer, on the floor, to stop yourself from falling when getting in and out.
  8. Before going any further, make sure that the lid can be opened from the inside, and that there's nothing nearby that can fall on it. You don't want to get trapped inside.
  9. If you need to use a power source, make sure to install a special GFCI safety outlet. This will help prevent you from being electrocuted in the event that an accident occurs.
  10. You can now plug your timer or control unit into this, as this will help control the on and off cycles.
  11. You can now fill the chest freezer with clean water and ice, and it should be good to go.


Maintaining a DIY Ice Bath

Luckily, a DIY chest freezer ice bath is quite easy to maintain. Just make sure that the water quality is always high to prevent any bacterial growth. You might want to use some disinfectants or chlorine tablets to that end.

On that note, regularly cleaning the chest freezer from any impurities or debris is recommended. If you use it on a daily basis, cleaning it thoroughly at least once a week is recommended.

You'll also want to inspect the drainage system to see if there are any issues or clogs. This will help prevent blockages from occurring.

Finally, regularly checking the bath’s insulation materials for wear and tear is a good idea. You want the chest freezer cold plunge to be able to maintain consistent temperatures.


Creating a DIY Ice Bath with a Barrel

Creating a DIY Ice Bath with an Inflatable Tub or Barrel

If using a chest freezer doesn't seem like a good option for you, then another option is to make a DIY ice pack with a barrel or inflatable tub. I'm


What You’ll Need for a DIY Barrel Ice Bath

  • You'll first need to purchase a barrel.
  • You'll need installation tools and various accessories, such as an Allen wrench, a hammer, a screwdriver, and other tools.
  • An insulated lid or debris cover, which may cost you up to $30.
  • Anti-slip mats.
  • A drainage system which should cost about $50.

Optional Extras

  • A submersible water chiller, which may cost up to $1500.
  • A water filtration system, which may cost you up to $70.
  • A recirculation system which may cost up to $600.
  • You'll also need ice.


How to Build a DIY Barrel Ice Bath

Follow these instructions to build a DIY barrel ice bath at home.

  1. First, choose the right ice barrel based on the material you prefer, as well as the size that you need.
  2. You'll now want to plan for any alterations that you'll need to make if you want to sit down, or for other DIY features.
  3. If you're using a barrel, now is the time to assemble it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Install a digital gauge or a floating thermometer so you can continuously monitor the water temperature.
  5. If your tub or barrel didn't come with one, add a lid or cover to help the ice bath retain temperature and to stop debris from getting on the inside.
  6. Use anti-slip mats and place them on the inside of the tub or barrel for safety.
  7. Depending on your preferred method, set up either a submersible pump or a drain plug for water drainage.
  8. A good idea is to add handles or grab bars for safety and stability.
  9. Install the water filtration system according to the manufacturer’s instructions, as this will help prevent bacteria from growing.
  10. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install your water filtration system, and then connect it to the tub. You'll also want to install the recirculation system at this time, as this will allow for consistent water temperatures.
  11. You can now fill the barrel or tub with water and ice and get to ice bathing.


Rounding Up

The bottom line is that you don't have to purchase some super expensive professional grade ice bath or cold plunge tub.

The fact is that with nothing more than a chest freezer or a barrel, as well as some tools and accessories, you can easily make your own DIY cold plunge at home.

Just be sure to follow our directions closely and to maintain safety at all times.

Author's Photo

William Parrett

Will, co-founder of Home Gym Supply, launched the company in 2019 after 15-years in the fitness industry. His expertise stems not only from his professional background but also from his athletic pursuits. A former competitor in the World Beauty Fitness & Fashion (WBFF) and a competitive rugby player, Will has always been dedicated to health and fitness.