A DIY ice bath allows you to tap into the amazing health benefits of cryotherapy in the comfort of your own home, no matter your budget.
Cold water therapy has been around for decades, but has only really gained significant traction over the past few years. Many professional athletes, practicing physical therapists, biohackers, health nerds, and even world-renowned entrepreneur Tim Ferris swear by the healing and rejuvenating powers of ice bathing. Several celebrities, including Wim Hof (who has even earned the nickname Ice Man) and Lady Gaga love their icy baths, not only for muscle and joint recovery, but also for relaxation and mediation.
But you don’t need to be either wealthy, famous or a pro athlete to unlock and enjoy the effects of cold therapy. If you are willing to make a commitment to your health and put in the time it takes to research and then set up your very own ice bath, there is no reason why you shouldn’t do it yourself.
The reasons why you might want to consider DIY’ing an ice tub are many: Extremely cold temperatures can help you prevent swelling, inflammation and injury, particularly in the wake of a hardcore workout session. But taking cold baths can also do so much more, from regulating your blood flow and heart rate, to helping you both toxins and fat. And these are just a few of the many healthful effects of ice water therapy – we’ll get into the full list of them late on in this article.
The wonders of cold thermogenesis are available to you, no matter what your experience level, cold tolerance or budget. We’ll go over all of them here, from the icy foot bath to the chest freezer ice bath.
So, are you ready to learn how to set you your own DIY bath, so you can enjoy the benefits of cold therapy wherever and whenever you like? Keep reading for much more information.
Why cold water immersion?
We’ve already touched on some of the positive benefits of cold water immersion, but let us go into a little more detail about what happens when you immerse yourself fully in a cold bath.
Ice baths help your body recover faster
Ice baths make your blood vessels constrict, which slows the flow of blood around your body. If you have just been working out, and particularly if you have sustained an injury, whether micro-tears of the muscles you have just been pushing to their limit, or something a little more serious, such as a twisted ankle, this is important. Getting in an ice bath soon after a workout can help prevent the swelling, not to mention the accompanying pain that is otherwise likely to set in.
By reducing inflammation and discomfort, cold bathing help you recover faster from physical activity. If you’re an athlete, this could be a very important benefit – regardless of what level you’re competing at.
Cold water helps your body shed toxins – the kind that others build up and cause sore and stiff muscles in the wake of hardcore exercise.
While flushing out toxins, cool water also prevents muscular breakdown on the cellular level, which allows you to physically recover much faster.
Ice baths help with weight loss
Another spectacular feature of ice bathing is that subjecting your body to extremely cold temperatures helps you lose fat.
Both human beings and other mammals have two kinds of fat in their bodies – white fat and brown fat. White fat, also called white adipose tissue, is where the body stores extra calories. Brown fat, on the other hand, serves the function of converting calories into energy in order to fuel the body and all of its vital functions. Brown fat, or brown adipose tissue, is often referred to as ‘good fat’ for that very reason.
When your body gets cold, its starts to shiver, and its brown fat reserves start converting calories into kinetic energy, in a bid to keep you warm. Besides, white adipose tissue starts converting into brown tissue, preparing to be turned into fuel. In extremely cold temperatures, your body needs way, way more energy merely to keep all of the body’s vital functions going. The result is that you can sit back and let your metabolism burn through your body’s reserves of excess calories in an ice cold bath.
Ice baths strengthen your immune system
Taking ice cold plunges awakens and reboots your immune system, so that it is fully alert and ready to fight off any incoming threats, from viruses to workaday fatigue. Ice bathing quickens your energy and makes all of your senses open up.
The positive effects of ice bathing have an accumulative effect – meaning that every time you treat your body to a cold plunge, you give your overall health and well-being a small boost. While one icy bath is better than none, one ice cold bath alone isn’t going to help you consistently lose weight or keep your immune system performing at its best.
Instead of going to a dedicated spa that offers cryotherapy once as a special treat, why not set yourself up with the cold plunging facilities you need at home? That way you’ll always have access to the accumulative benefits of ice bathing.
Ice baths fight depression
Depression affects approximately 10% of the adult population in America, according to the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and anxiety and other mood disorders affect an even greater percentage than this.
Exposing yourself to icy cold temperatures can help, if you are one of the many who suffer from depression or another low-mood affliction. The reason is that extremely cold temperatures
Ice bathing basics
An ice bath doesn’t necessarily have to involve sitting in a tub filled with ice cubes – but before we go through all of the tantalising ice bathing options, let’s cover the basics.
When you take a cold plunge it is very important to be aware of both temperature and duration. Studies have revealed that the ideal temperature range for ice baths is between 11-15°C (52-59°F), and you should only stay in for a maximum of 15 minutes. 11-15 minutes is the optimal range, if you want to experience the full benefits of cold plunging.
Lowering the temperature too much, or staying for too long can have adverse consequences for your health, such as hypothermia. So, whatever type of icy bath you decide to get into, keep an eye on the temperature and on the timing.
Another thing to think about when it comes to your cold plunge practice is when is the best time for an icy bath? One or two hors after an intense workout session is an ideal time to immerse yourself in icy water. While studies have been somewhat contradictory on the issue, there is evidence to suggest that taking an ice bath immediately after working out can inhibit the inflammatory response and actually slow down the body’s natural recovery. It might be best to err on the side of caution and wait an hour or two after your workout, to let your body do its natural thing, and then let cryotherapy help soothe your sore muscles and joints afterwards.
All right, now that we have gone over the basics of how to take a healthy icy bath, it is time to look at the different ice bathing options and discuss how to make each of them happen – including how much money each option is going to require.
Different types of ice baths
When deciding on which type of ice bath to invest in or build yourself, you are faced with a large range of options.
Of course, there is the option of visiting a spa with cryotherapy facilities. While it will no doubt be a great experience and a treat, it can also both pricey and inconvenient, not to mention, you will be missing out on the accumulative benefits of ice bathing.
There is also the option of purchasing a professionally constructed cold plunge. This is a great option if you are able and willing to put up the financial resources it takes.
Your third and final option is to take the DIY-route and construct your own cold plunge at home. This is a great option if you are either on a budget, or are only just exploring the possibilities of cold therapy and don’t want to sink a lot of money into your cold plunging habit before establishing whether or not it really is for you.
Undoubtedly, the easiest, most accessible and straight-forward way of getting stared with cold therapy at home is to start taking ice cold showers. Chances are, you already have a shower in your home or have access to one.
Cold showers are a great way to get started if you are brand new to cryotherapy and need to build up your cold tolerance before taking the full plunge. And as a besides, warm showers can be a wonderful treat once you have been immersed in icy cold temperatures for a while.
A cold shower is defined as a shower with a temperature below 70° Fahrenheit. A cold shower is the most accessible way for you to enjoy into the advantages of cryoherapy, and they have been used for centuries to condition yourself to adapt to extreme temperature conditions.
A cold shower only requires a shower that allows you to adjust the temperature to under 70 degrees. If you are completely unused to the cold, you can start by turning the shower cold for only a few minutes – or even just thirty seconds – at a time. You can alternate between warm and cold temperatures, and slowly start building up your cold tolerance.
All in all, a cold shower is, by far, the easiest, simplest and most beginner-friendly cold bath you can experience at home. What’s more, it is extremely budget-friendly, as it costs you nothing more than the price of the water.
Icy foot baths
There’s more to foot baths than clean feet – and icy foot baths is a great step towards full immersion if you are wanting to build up your tolerance.
Like freezing cool showers, icy foot baths are both beginner and budget friendly. They are also very easy to prepare at home. All you need is cool water, ice cubes, and a water-tight bucket. You probably already have one, but in case you don’t you can easily get hold of one from your local super market, or from an online retailer like Amazon.
Start by pouring in the cold water, but don’t fill it all the way up – you want to leave about 1/3 of the space for the ice. Start adding the ice cubes until you have reached the desired temperature. Use a thermometer to keep an eye on how cold the water is. Add bath salts or rose petals for an added touch of self-care.
The cold tub has got to be the next step up from an icy foot bath – you even prepare it in much the same way, just on a bigger scale.
To prepare a cold tub setup, you’ll need a bath tub (or a watertight receptacle of similar size), water and ice cubes. First, you are going to fill the bath tub approximately two thirds of the way with water. Then add the ice. 2-3 bags of ice cubes is usually sufficient to get the water to the desired water temperature.
Sit in the tub for 10-15 minutes. Make sure all the water covers your legs and waist.
A soak in a cold tub is a great leap up from a cold shower or foot bath; this is when you really begin to experience the benefits of ice bathing, including more rapid muscle repair, relaxation and the burning of calories.
Chest freezer ice bath
Now we are getting the the more advanced and time consuming – but also more satisfying – options. One popular method of creating your own cold thermogenesis bath is to refurbish a chest freezer by turning it into a fully functional bath.
Obviously creating your own chest freeze rice bath can be significantly more expensive than simply immersing your feet in a bucket of ice cubes – but you also get the full experience, and you get to access the full array of benefits that cryotherapy unlocks. If you want to build your own chest freezer ice bath, this is how to go about it.
Your first step is to purchase a large chest freezer. Chest freezers can vary tremendously in prize, from top-of-the-line industrial freezers to the freezers you find on places like freecycle.org or on Facebook marketplace. While a high quality freezer can seem like a bit of an investment, it might very well be worth the price tag, particularly if you are an ice bathing fanatic and end up using your new chest freezer ice bath several times a week.
Now that you have gotten your hands on an industrial chest freezer, the next step is to set it up. Add some hydrogen peroxide to prevent everything freezing in place, and set up a round-the-clock, plug-in mechanical timer to monitor the freezer’s functioning. To really create the optimal cryotherapy haven, ground the water with alligator clips.
Needless to say, you should always exercise caution when setting up electrical equipment with water inside it. There are a number of other practical considerations you will have to think about as well, including the ideal location for your tub, as you will need to be able to access a drain plug and electricity.
Thankfully, there are numerous creators on YouTube who are sharing videos on cold bathing, including how to DIY your own cold plunge.
Any pond or pool can easily be converted into a cold thermogenesis pool, and making it happen can be surprisingly easy, for the following reasons.
If you have a pool, it is already outfitted with an ozone generator and filtered water system to ensure the water stays clean and inviting. The only thing you will need to add here is ice – and plenty of it. Depending on the size of your pool, this could turn out a rather tricky and pricy endeavour. Still, there are cryotherapy studios that are able to deliver ice in the quantities you need.
Whether you are converting a freezer or a pool into a cold therapy bathing device, you are going to need quantities of ice on a consistent basis. Making enough ice cubes in your own freezer may not be a viable option, simply because it is so time consuming. A better option is to invest in an ice maker, or have the cubes delivered from a local cryotherapy studio that has the capacity.
After you have taken an ice bath
After you have taken a cold plunge, it is a good idea to warm back up again with a warm bath. Hot baths require less specialised equipment, and come with a whole host of benefits of their own.
Heat therapy can help alleviate the symptoms of cold and flu, lower blood pressure, relieve muscle tension, promote better sleep and release endorphins, while lowering your levels of cortisol, better known as the stress hormone.
Because warm temperatures inhibit the release of stress hormones and ups your body’s production of hormones that boost your mood and optimism, warm baths can prove an effective treatment for depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.
Taking an icy cold bath followed by a warm bath, or alternating between the two, can powerfully amplify the effects of both and work wonders for your overall immunity and health, your physical recovery and your mood. Together, cold and warm temperatures work in tandem and produce the best results.
A warm bath should be in the temperature range of 90 degrees to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. You can take a hot bath in your shower, as a foot bath, or you can go for full-body immersion in your bathtub. If you have the means and the inspiration to do so, you can even instal a sauna, or a sweat lodge, to go with your new self-made cold plunge.
As with cold temperatures, warm temperatures can be too much. Doctors recommend not going over 120 degrees, and you shouldn’t stay in extremely hot water for more than 10-15 minutes.
There is little doubt that cold bathing works – and that you are able to take advantage of all of the positive health effects that cryotherapy has to offer, in the comfort of your own home and on any budget.
This article has given you a taste of what is possible – now it is up to you to decide what level and what kind of cold plunge you want to go about constructing for yourself. Remember, you can always start small, learn, develop and work your way up.