Making an Ice Pack at Home

How to Make an Ice Pack

Ice towel and bag for an ice pack
A homemade ice pack uses ice, a bag, and a towel. Rod Brouhard

There are many kinds of chemical cold packs available for first aid kits, but they can be expensive and only last for a short time. Make a pack at home using ice, but remember not to put ice directly on skin.

To make an ice pack with items from home, you'll need:

  • ice
  • a sealable plastic bag
  • a towel or pillow case

Put Ice in the Bag

Add water to the ice pack
Add water to the ice. Rod Brouhard

Fill the bag with ice about halfway and add water. Water helps the ice conform to contures of the injured area.

Keep Something Between the Ice and the Skin

Never place ice directly on the skin
Never place ice directly on the skin. Rod Brouhard

Never place ice directly on skin. Ice can cause frostbite if left on skin for very long. Regardless what you put between the ice and the victim's skin, do not leave the ice on the skin longer than 20 minutes.

Wrap the Ice Pack

Wrap the bag of ice in a towel
Wrap the bag of ice in a towel. Rod Brouhard

To make an ice pack, place the bag of ice and water on the towel and wrap it.

Use the Ice Pack

Tie the towel to finish the pack
Tie the towel to finish the pack. Rod Brouhard

Tie the towel and use the ice pack. It will last more than an hour. As long as ice remains in the bag, the water will be cold. Use the ice pack along with elevating the injured extremity to reduce swelling and relieve the pain of breaks and sprains. Ice packs can also be used to treat victims of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Never leave an ice pack on for more than 20 minutes and never use the ice pack without the towel. Putting the bag of ice directly on the skin can lead to frostbite.

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