Introduction: How to Make a $20 Ice Pack for $2

Picture of How to Make a $20 Ice Pack for $2

Recently I needed a gel ice pack to soothe sore muscles. When I found them at Wal-mart, I was offended by their high price. I thought to myself "there's got to be a cheap way to make one myself." And there is.

Step 1: Gather Supplies:

Picture of Gather Supplies:

1 disposable diaper (any body with little kids has one of these on hand for free)
1 gallon zip lock bag
Some water
Some rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
A freezer

Step 2: Make Like a Tick.

Picture of Make Like a Tick.

Slowly dribble about a cup of alcohol onto a disposable diaper. Then dribble water on until it is nicely swollen, like your kid drank a gallon and then let it all out. When the diaper weighs about 5 lbs., it is ready for step 3.

Step 3: Bag It.

Picture of Bag It.

Insert diaper into ziplock bag. Push out excess air and seal the bag. (I double-bagged mine for good measure).

Step 4: Freeze It.

Picture of Freeze It.

Place gel pack in the freezer for a couple hours.

Step 5: Notes:

1) For added security, you can double-bag the diaper.
2) This works because newer disposable diapers have a nifty powdered chemical inside that can absorb a lot of liquid and still stay granulated and the alcohol prevents the whole thing from freezing solid.
3) I don't recommend cutting the elastic off the diaper--with some diapers this will create holes for the chemical to escape from.

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renee.vlna (author)2015-02-07

I like this idea, however i read that it was rather stiff. I'm going to try taking the inside of the diaper out once it's totally wet. Then following the rest of the instructions.

nancy.barnhart.35 (author)2014-09-10

I needed a rather large cold pack - I have a spine problem, so it had to be big enough to cover a good chunk of my back. Gallon sized vacuum bag, 2 size 4 diapers, rubbing alcohol, and tap water. I'm still adding water as it is absorbing it almost as fast as I add it. Total cost: Aout $1.00.

JoelDude (author)2007-08-29

about the corn idea, one problem: corn rots and during christmass i saw this guy selling a powder that he would put it in kids hand and pour water in and it would groww 100 times its size and look like snow. i bet that could be used.

ilpug (author)JoelDude2012-10-01

It's the same exact stuff!

Lithium Rain (author)2009-10-13

Heh. Thanks to the comments, I'm now envisioning  cooling my laptop with...frozen maxi pads! If that's not ghetto I don't know what is.

bajablue (author)Lithium Rain2011-09-09


jauncourt (author)2009-10-01

Maxipads also work. Same technology as diapers.

billbrier (author)2008-08-25

Here's a killer app for the ice pack: LAPTOP computers. They are notorious for overheating and breaking down. Forget using fans. Simply place two size 3 Pamper diapers, half way soaked with water, into a one gallon baggie. Too much water and your computer sits up too high. Wrap the frozen baggie with a hand towel and place under computer. Ice pack will last hours. Cool! -bill

metrometro (author)2007-08-25

OK, this is great, but unnecessary. My instructable: 1) buy bag of frozen corn. 2) put where it hurts. 3) refreeze. Repeat as needed.

BranchMonster (author)metrometro2008-01-09

I prefer corn to the time my boyfriend used frozen cranberries ... and the bag had holes in it.

royalestel (author)BranchMonster2008-01-10

*snicker* That oughta be in a movie somewhere.

royalestel (author)metrometro2007-09-22

Hey I looked all over this site for DIY ice packs and had no luck. I would welcome your frozen corn 'ible but I wouldn't do it because I'd want to actually eat the corn and the freezing/refreezing kind of takes that out of the mix. But anyways, yeah.

metrometro (author)royalestel2007-10-11

Sad but true: my wife has cooked and eaten my frozen corn ice packs, with no apparent ill effects. They usually go back in the freezer before they really thaw.

royalestel (author)metrometro2007-10-11

Ever use them for sore lateral obliques. Or to be blunt, did the corn stink? :) Anyways, yep, sounds like a good alternative.

Goodhart (author)2007-10-16

The "gel" in some of those diapers make an excellent fire retardant also. Some of them you can't burn with a torch ! In fact, that is how one of the newest "fire-gels" was invented....a fireman saw unburnt diapers in a terrible fire...

mimzie (author)2007-09-21

I love this idea!! But I didnt love the idea of my ice pack looking so .. homemade?! LOL (there's really nothing wrong with that, I just wanted to see how far I could go) and I did not like it in the ziplock bag. So instead I took the gel stuff out of the diaper, put it in a vacuum seal bad, added tons of water and blue food coloring, sealed the bag (twice!) to make sure it didnt leak and tossed it in the freezer! It really works great and with blue food dye it looks JUST like one you would buy at the store, well except for the packaging. I'm going to try to get pics of the process and I'll post it. I'm going to try some with alcohol in it and see if it doesnt freeze as hard (It really doesnt freeze that hard and it breaks up easily)

royalestel (author)mimzie2007-09-22

Now the vacuum seal thing is EXACTLY what I was going to do with V2.0 but I thought I'd post the first method I tried. Anyhoo, yeah TOTALLY post your results and (dare I say it?) make an instructable out of it!

mimzie (author)royalestel2007-09-22

Oh well if you were thinking of doing it already then add it to here! That way ppl can see the easy way or taking it a step further, if I take pics I can send them to you for you to post cause honestly I have no idea how to even make an instructable (I'm sure its easy but I have 4 kiddos and busy 99% of the day) So really dont have time! Here's my results though: 1 sz 5 Luvs makes 5in x 10in (and about 2in thick!) gel pack All are hard as rocks though once frozen so going to try some alcohol to see if I can keep it from freezing so hard. Tried 1 with a little bit of alcohol, will add more next time.

royalestel (author)mimzie2007-09-29

I don't have a vacuum sealer handy, but I would love to post your results here. I'll PM you with my email address.

dagwoodandblondie (author)2007-08-23

Where do you get just one diaper?

Easy. Just get one form somebody with little kids. They'll have a million of them.

Try Freecycle or you can request a sample from Huggies or Pampers.

They sell these in restroom vending machines in many "Family Friendly" places like Wal-Mart. The bigger Wally Worlds, towards the layaway area, have three restrooms; MENS, WOMENS, and FAMILY.

funwithfire325 (author)2007-09-08

if you wet it then you can throw it it explodes

infinitysnake (author)2007-08-23

The "chemical" in the diapers is actually a harmless polyacrylamide gel. If you don't want the mess, you can buy the same granules in the garden department for a couple bucks, where they're sold to keep plants hydrated. It's also good for saving water if you apply it to garden/lawn soil before planting. One brand name is "soil moist."

Ayce (author)2007-08-17

There is actually a much better way of doing this. Just take 2 large ziplock bags in one bag fill it with one part water and one part rubbing alcohol. Now take the 2nd zip lock back and put it over the one filled with the water/alcohol. Now put in the freezer and you have yourself a very good ice pack. This is basically all the expensive ice packs are except they add a bit of dye to them as well. This will never get hard like ice because of the alcohol. But yet it stays cold for hours so is perfect for any type of injury.

royalestel (author)Ayce2007-08-18


Ayce (author)royalestel2007-08-18

Yeah I could do one but I don't have any need for another one of these. I suppose I could make a small one just for an example though... maybe I will.

Weissensteinburg (author)2007-08-16

I never knew you were a cute little girl!


Nicely done instructable.

tyeo098 (author)Weissensteinburg2007-08-17

with manly arms....

royalestel (author)tyeo0982007-08-18

Why thank you. ;)

Why thank you. That's actually my eldest daughter. I'm sure she'll be quite the stunner when she grows up a bit. . . .

biocrow (author)2007-08-17

This works well - I am using one right now! The pack is a little harder than I expected it to be, but you can "knead" it a little to soften it. The cold seems to last quite a long time. You can't beat it for the money. I would say $0.25 for the diaper and $0.10 for the ziploc, and it doesn't come near $2.00....more like $0.35 each!!! I am making a double one in a single gallon bag next, for large areas, or to fold over long areas like arms and legs.

royalestel (author)biocrow2007-08-18

Yeah, you're right! I was thinking that perhaps it was so hard because of the paper surrounding it. This is obviously an area for further development!

oinkoinkzoopals (author)2007-08-16

another good ice pack is one part alchahol and one part water. put them in a plastic bag and freeze it


!Andrew_Modder! (author)2007-08-16

ya, but now people can call you S%i head or diaper head ;-( when ever i need an icepack i just take a dishtowel and put a ice sheet (thos plastic coated jell ice things) inside of it and use that. also a downside is diapers arnt cheap :-P

...gel packs are what he didn't have.

rimar2000 (author)2007-08-16


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