Cold plunges and ice baths are all the rage. I don’t go more than a week without a conversation about cold plunges; they’ll give you boundless energy, you’ll never get sick, you’ll live to 150, and you’ll have superpowers. Or something like that.
I won’t try to convince you of the health benefits because there are a thousand other sources, and this is not a health blog. But if you’re interested in doing some version of an ice bath at home, I’ll share some tips and tricks I’ve picked up.
A great way to get started on cold water exposure is to start with cold showers. If you live in a cold climate like Minnesota, this is very effective. Our average groundwater temperature in Minnesota is about 45° F. If you live in a warmer climate like Texas or Florida, you don’t have the option of taking a cold shower. You can take a “cool” shower, but it’s not the same.
The simple way to take a cold plunge is to fill your bathtub with cold water and hop in. Again, this is quite effective for cold climates like Minnesota. If you live in a warm climate, you can dump a bunch of ice into your bath to cool it down, but this gets expensive if you’re buying ice; you need several 20-pound bags of ice to make a big difference. A cheap and easy way to get a bunch of ice is to fill several 6-quart containers with water to create giant ice cubes.
Personally, I’m not crazy about this method because I don’t like having to lie down in my tub, and it takes a long time for my tub to fill. But it works. And to get it extra cold during the winter, I’ve added a few bucket-fulls of snow. But not this year, of course. Where is our snow??
Portable Ice Bath
My favorite solution is a portable ice bath; I use one made by nurecover®. It’s an $89 heavy-duty portable vinyl tub with six plastic ribs to keep it upright. You fill it 2/3 full with water, add ice if needed, then hop in. It’s similar to using a bathtub, but I get to stay upright, and it doesn’t take nearly as long to fill.
I originally set mine up outside, but I decided I didn’t want to mess around with snow and ice during the winter, so I moved it inside to my utility room. I put it by the floor drain and added a few pipe fittings so it drains directly into my floor drain without making a mess.
Now, here’s the cool part. I ran a water line with 1/2″ PEX tubing up to the ceiling in my utility room, and terminated it with a 3/4″ garden hose fitting. I also added a ball valve on this line so I can keep the water turned off more of the time… just to be safe.
From there, I added an electronic sprinkler controller so I can easily fill my cold bath with precision.
After that, I have a length of garden hose hanging into the ice bath with a weight on the end to keep it from flopping around.
Also, note the rubber duckies. My daughter secretly added one a day for a few weeks because she’s funny.
To take a cold bath, I simply open the valve on the water line, close the drain valve on my cold bath, and set the app on my phone to run the sprinkler for six minutes.
Piece of cake! When I’m done, I close the fill valve for safety and open the drain valve on the cold bath. While this isn’t truly an ice bath, it’s cold enough for me at 58° F.
If you want something colder and fancier than my DIY cold plunge and you don’t mind spending thousands, you could purchase a refrigerated system like the Plunge, Therafrost, or Morozko Forge. Or if you have Tony Robbins money, you could have one installed in your yard.
Cold Plunge Resources
These are a few of the influencers who have convinced me that cold plunges are good for my health:
Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections