How to Make a Gel Ice Pack

I discovered this ice pack “recipe” a few years ago on my Facebook timeline, and then I perfected the process when I was making a how-to video for my college speech class. (I had speech class with Faulkner University’s baseball team. My instructor asked for written directions he could give out because he received so many requests from my classmates for my contact info.)

If you have kids who are athletes or you work at a physically demanding job, you will appreciate this reusable, multi-use first aid staple. 

The combination of isopropyl rubbing alcohol and water makes a flexible, pliable ice pack you can wrap around any joint. The security of a glued opening and double bags mean you’re less likely to find yourself covered in pungent alcohol.

Keep this handy homemade ice pack around for bumps and bruises anywhere on your body.

You will need:

1 cup water

1/2 cup rubbing alcohol

2 Ziploc brand bags (specifically, Ziploc)

Super glue

Permanent marker


Pour water and alcohol in to the Ziploc bag. (It’s important to use a sturdy brand like Ziploc, rather than cheap bags, to prevent tearing, erosion, and unsealing.)

Seal the closure very carefully making sure you have lined up the close tab. Leave about 1/4 of an inch open at the end.

Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible, getting out all the bubbles. Press the liquid as close to the top of the bag, and the closure, as possible. Seal the 1/4 inches remaining open.

Run a thin, consistent line of super glue right up against the closure of the bag, between the two tabs. Press out any excess glue and wipe with a paper towel. Set bag aside.

Go ahead and label your ice pack. You may want to include a warning not to drink. 

Carefully insert the ice pack inside the empty, labeled bag, making sure to smooth it out and get it as flat as possible. Try to fit the ice pack inside the second bag like a glove. Press out as much air between the bags as possible.

Glue the outer bag just like the first, making sure to wipe off all excess glue.

Place the ice pack in the freezer until it is nearly frozen but still malleable (don’t worry, it won’t freeze completely, regardless). Lay it as flat as possible to make it congeal evenly. (I lay mine on an ice cream box.) After an hour or so, depending how much you open your freezer, it should be ready for use.

When it gets dirty, just wipe it with a damp cloth that’s mildly soapy. It can be used again and again. The alcohol will keep the water sanitized and fairly clear for an extended period of time.

This “cool” ice pack will surprise you-it will mold to any joint, or someone’s head, or against a cheek or eye-all the hard-to-cover and extra-tender places a chunky, hard bag of ice won’t help. Give this to your young athlete or hardworking spouse to soothe aches and pains easily and quickly.

Let us know what you think! Have you used a gel ice pack before? Do you have any tips for best use or application? Let us know in the comments!

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