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How To Build A Temperature Controlled Ice Bath For Under $500

ice bath

Are you interested in the many benefits of ice baths or cold plunges, but don’t want to spend a fortune on complicated and pricey equipment?

Look no further! In this upcoming blog post, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide to building a temperature-controlled ice bath for under $500.

From purchasing the necessary items to setting up the area for your ice bath, to the detailed process of putting it all together, we’ve got you covered.

Whether you’re an athlete looking to enhance performance or simply seeking the many health benefits of cold exposure, our guide will show you how you can create an affordable ice bath of your own.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to elevate your wellness routine with minimal investment.

What are ice baths?

Ice baths are a popular recovery technique used by athletes and fitness enthusiasts to reduce inflammation and promote muscle recovery.

Essentially, an ice bath is just what it sounds like – a bath filled with ice.

The idea is to submerge the body in very cold water for a short period of time, typically between 5 and 15 minutes, in order to constrict blood vessels and flush out lactic acid.

While they’re not always comfortable, ice baths have been shown to be an effective way to not only speed up recovery after a tough workout or competition.

Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, they may be one of the keys to optimizing overall health and longevity.

Reasons You Should Be Using an Ice Bath or Cold Plunge Tub

The use of ice baths or cold plunge tubs has become increasingly popular among athletes, gym-goers, and health enthusiasts in recent years.

While the initial shock of submerging oneself in cold water can be intimidating, the benefits make it well worth it.

An ice bath can reduce inflammation in the body, increase circulation, improve muscle recovery, and even boost your immune system. It can also be an effective tool for stress and anxiety relief.

By exposing your body to extreme cold, you activate the sympathetic nervous system, which releases endorphins and adrenaline, leading to improved mood and mental clarity.

One benefit that has even more radically increased the popularity of this healthy practice is increased metabolism and even the burning of brown adipose tissue, or “Brown fat”.

Whether you’re looking to enhance your athletic performance or boost your overall well-being, incorporating an ice bath or cold plunge tub into your routine may be exactly what your body needs.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Build Your Temperature Controlled Ice Bath

The benefits of using an ice bath or cold plunge tub are becoming virtually undeniable at this point and I love the idea of these health benefits being made available to anyone with the desire to optimize their health and the health of their family in such a way.

I wanted to outline the steps build your own ice bath at home in such a way that the steps would be simple and easy to follow, the necessary equipment and materials would be inexpensive, and the whole process would be fun.

Here are those steps for which I will go into detail in the next section

  1. Get a used chest freezer
  2. Choose a location for your tub
  3. Seal the seams
  4. Get a digital temperature control
  5. Connect the temperature control
  6. Fill with water
  7. Add ice (Optional)
  8. Get in

1). Get a used chest freezer

If you are looking to build your own ice bath at home, purchasing a chest freezer is a must.

While you may be tempted to buy a brand new one, going pre-owned is where you will see significant cost savings.

For a larger ice bath, a 10 cubic ft chest freezer is recommended.

You have the option of going for an upright chest freezer or a longer chest freezer, but make but I recommend getting a longer one since those are typically more spacious.

As I am writing this post, I see on Ebay there is an Avanti 44in/10.0 cu. ft. Garage Ready Chest Freezer in White for sale at $320 or best offer.

You might need to do a bit of searching, but there are deals like this to be found on sites like Ebay and Craigslist.

Investing in a pre-owned freezer for your DIY ice bath project can be a money-saving win.

2). Choose a location for your tub

When it comes to building a temperature controlled ice bath using a chest freezer, selecting the right location is crucial.

The first thing to consider is finding a spot on your property where the freezer can fit comfortably, but also a location where you can safely and easily get in and out of the freezer.

It is also important to choose a location near a power outlet, so that the freezer can run efficiently.

Less important, but worth mentioning here is that you will want to be able to reach the freezer with a water hose connected to a water source; it will take way too long to fill up the freezer using buckets of water.

Although it is possible to have the ice bath indoors because you are going to be sealing the freezer against leaks, most people prefer outdoor locations such as a back patio or deck, or even a spot in the garage.

Ultimately, the location you choose will depend on your individual preferences, but it is important to keep these factors in mind to ensure that you build a safe and effective ice bath.

3). Seal the seams

When it comes to re-purposing a chest freezer into an ice bath, it’s important to ensure that the inner seams are properly sealed to prevent any leaks.

The best way to accomplish this is by using a waterproof sealant; I recommend the Ultra Clear all purpose water-proof sealant and patch, which is produced by a company called, “Dap” and is available from Amazon for around 13 bucks.

But any all-purpose water-proof sealant will do the trick.

To begin, clean the inner seams of any debris or dust, then apply the sealant evenly, following the instructions on the packaging.

Seal every seam and you’re also going to want to seal around the drain plug.

Chest freezers come equipped with a removable drain plug for the purpose of letting water run out of the freezer; just seal around the edges drain plug base, but do not seal the plug closed.

You will want to be able to let the water out.

Once the sealant has dried, test for leaks by filling the freezer with water and checking for any leaks along the seams.

With proper sealing, the chest freezer can now serve as a reliable ice bath for various uses.

4). Get a digital temperature control

Ensuring that the temperature of your ice bath is consistent is absolutely essential when it comes to achieving the optimal recovery and performance benefits that ice therapy can offer.

This is where a digital temperature control device comes into play, providing an inexpensive and highly effective solution.

One reliable option on the market is the Inkbird model, which can be easily obtained from online retailers like Amazon for around 35 bucks.

This device acts as a thermostat, allowing you to keep the temperature of your ice bath within a targeted temperature range that is ideal for your particular recovery goals.

With precise temperature control, you can trust that your body will always receive the benefits of ice therapy and recovery in the most efficient manner possible.

5). Connect the temperature control

Connecting the digital temperature control is straightforward and the instructions will be easy to follow.

There will be a power cord, which connects to a standard electrical outlet.

There will also be a dual relay output in which you will need to plug the power cord of the actual freezer.

One side is labeled, “Heating”, and the other side will be labeled, “Cooling”.

Obviously, since we are talking about building a home ice bath and not a hot tub, you will need to connect the freezer’s power cord into the side that is labeled for cooling.

The only thing left to do now is insert the temperature probe into the freezer.

Just let it hang freely in there; when the freezer is filled with water, the probe will allow your temperature control device to monitor the water temperature and cause the freezer to power on when the temperature rises to the desired level and power back off when it gets colder than the desired level.

6). Fill with water

Once you’ve prepped your freezer for the project by sealing any holes and gaps, it’s time to fill it with water.

However, be cautious not to overfill the freezer as you’ll need to factor in the displacement of your body mass once you sit inside.

You want to avoid any water overflow that could end up damaging your patio or garage flooring.

It’s recommended to experiment with levels to get a good feel for the ideal water level.

A good rule of thumb is to add enough water to cover your hips and lower back, then as you lower your body into the freezer the water level will rise to around neck level so you can experience the ice bath or cold plunge over the entirety of your body.

7). Set your temperature

When it comes to setting the water temperature for your ice bath, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

Firstly, the ideal temperature range for an ice bath is around 10-15 degrees Celsius (around 50-60 Fahrenheit), which is cold enough to provide a therapeutic effect without being too uncomfortable.

However, if you’re just starting out with cold therapy, it’s completely understandable to start out with slightly warmer water at first, just until you get used to the intensity of the cold.

Additionally, keep in mind that it may take some time for water that you’ve run into the freezer to reach the desired temperature range.

The rate at which it cools will depend on factors such as the air temperature outside and the size of your freezer.

So be patient, and adjust your settings accordingly.

8). Add ice (Optional)

Adding ice to your temperature-controlled ice bath is an optional step that can help decrease the temperature of the water more quickly.

However, one of the benefits of having a temperature-controlled bath is that it eliminates the need to purchase bags of ice regularly, saving you both time and money.

If you do opt to add ice, be aware that the cost of purchasing ice bags can quickly become a burden.

Consider filling the bath with cold water ahead of time and letting it chill to the desired temperature instead.

Before using your ice bath, it is also recommended that you shower to remove any excess oils from your skin, which can contaminate the water and shorten the lifespan of the bath.

9). Get in

Congratulations, you have finally completed all the steps and assembled your budget-friendly temperature-controlled ice bath.

Now, the moment has come to hop in and enjoy the amazing benefits it has to offer. However, before you do that, it’s essential to practice caution and get into the ice bath slowly.

There is a risk of slipping, so it’s crucial to tread carefully.

One way to mitigate this risk is to have a stepping stool nearby, which can come in handy.

Furthermore, care must be taken to ensure that the duration of the ice bath does not exceed 15 minutes, as this can have adverse effects on your body.

So, step in slowly, relax, and reap the benefits of your very own ice bath.

Key Considerations for Successfully Building Your Ice Bath

The key to a successful ice bath experience is to be mindful of the steps you take throughout the process.

First, it is important to ensure that you have all the necessary materials and tools before beginning your assembly.

Second, make sure to adhere to all safety protocols related to electricity and water usage.

Third, it is important to research and invest in quality materials, as this will determine how long your bath lasts.

Finally, take extra precautions when getting into and out of the ice bath, as there is a risk of slipping.

With these key considerations in mind, you can be sure to enjoy the benefits of your homemade temperature-controlled ice bath.

Taking it To the Next Level

To amplify the effects of your cold plunge tub, consider incorporating breathing exercises into your routine.

Deep, controlled breathing can help you manage the initial shock of the cold and increase your tolerance over time.

Not only this, but breathing exercises such as those popularized by Wim Hof can increase your oxygen supply, reduce stress, and boost your overall well-being.

Now that you have mastered the art of crafting your own temperature-controlled ice bath economically, why not double the fun?

Consider constructing a second bath alongside your initial one.

This will enable you and your partner or a friend to partake in the ice bath experience together, fostering a sense of camaraderie and shared accomplishment.

Plus, having a buddy can make the plunge a little less daunting and a lot more enjoyable.

Remember to prioritize safety and comfort in your design as you embark on this next project.

Alternatives to Ice Baths and Cold Plunge Tubs

Cold showers are a fantastic, cost-effective alternative to ice baths and cold plunge tubs.

While they may not offer the same level of control over temperature, they offer similar benefits such as increased alertness, improved circulation, and enhanced mood.

Cold showers are also far more accessible and convenient for the average individual, requiring no special equipment or installation.

Despite being less intense than an ice bath, they can still deliver a robust cold therapy experience.

All it takes is turning the shower knob to the cold side to start experiencing the benefits.

One other excellent alternative to building your own ice bath without breaking the bank is investing in a budget-friendly option like an inflatable ice bath.

These portable, compact units are designed with convenience in mind, allowing you to set up your own personal cold therapy session wherever you desire.

Inflatable ice baths are not only affordable but also easy to store and clean, making them a popular choice among cold therapy enthusiasts.

While they may not offer the same level of temperature precision as a custom-built ice bath, they provide a great starting point for those looking to explore the benefits of cold therapy without a hefty investment.

Wrapping Up

Building your own temperature-controlled ice bath or cold plunge tub is an exhilarating project that not only provides immense health benefits but also a sense of achievement.

It’s a cost-effective method to engage in cold therapy right at the comfort of your home.

Alternatives like cold showers can also serve you well if you’re not ready to dive into the intense cold plunge yet.

At the end of the day, the goal is to incorporate cold therapy into your lifestyle and reap its numerous benefits, be it via an ice bath, a cold plunge tub, or a simple cold shower.

Happy chilling!


  1. Breathing Exercises by Wim Hof
  2. The 6 Health Benefits of Ice Baths by Lisa Marie Basile, MFA

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