This instructable will show you how to make a simple low cost bandanna ice pack for your dog or yourself to stay cool out there in the summer sun.
My dog Bunk is a toy Australian shepherd so he can become quite furry and has tons of energy. With the summer heat wave we have been having in Boston, I wanted to see if there was a way to provide some cooling for him while he runs and plays.
Looking online I found the following existing cooling products for dogs:
-phase change pack cooler jackets (https://www.amazon.com/TechKewl-Phase-Change-Cooli...)
-evaporation cooling bandannas (https://motleymutt.com/shop/p44/dog-cooling-collar...)
-regular canine ice pack wrap (http://www.canineicer.com/order/product/).
There are a ton of products out there but the evaporation cooling bandanna struck me as something I could make a similar version of maybe. I like the low profile and look of the of the motley mutt bandanna but I wanted to make mine using a thin ice pack as the core instead of their super absorbent polymers. I do like the simple water cooling activation and lightness of the motley mutt, but it seems like the ice pack has better re-usability. In any case I found this ice pack bandanna cooler to be a low cost solution and helps my dog bear the heat while playing.
Step 1: Gather Materials
You should be able to make this ice pack for five dollars or less. I am keeping to the simple formula of DIY ice pack within a "sewn" bandanna package.
-iron on fusable bonding web / fabric (I used this https://www.amazon.com/Dritz-228-20-Yard-Witchery-...)
(You could use a sewing machine instead for real stitches but I don't have one so iron on was a cheap solution that has held up thus far)
Ice Pack Materials:
-Freezer Zip lock bags
Step 2: DIY Ice Pack Exploration
People have been making DIY ice packs for a long time, the most popular ones seem to be the rubbing alcohol based ones.
That being said there is a SAFETY CONCERN here for pets. If you do not plan on supervising your dog, if your dog has a fondness of chewing or if your dog plays rough with other dogs then I would stay away from rubbing alcohol, hand sanatizer and other DIY ice pack recipes that call for ingredients toxic to dogs. Use corn syrup, non toxic dish soap and other non toxic recipes.
However, if you feel like you can trust your dog not to rip open the bag and you only use it while you are with the dog then I think it is perfectly fine to use the standard ice pack recipes. I have been using my bag for walks and solo games of fetch. Also, Bunk appears to have no interest in biting the bandanna and he is only using it while I am with him outside so I would feel comfortable in using rubbing alcohol.
In any case, I was curious how all these ice pack recipes plus some of my own random mixes looked like post freeze and wanted to see which had that best balance of weight, nonconformity and staying cool:
1. 50% Isopropyl Alcohol
-Result: Remained a liquid, not really suitable for this application.
2. 50% Isopropyl Alcohol + Water
-Result: Gelled a bit. Seemed pretty good.
3. 50% Isopropyl Alcohol + Water + Flour + Corn Starch
-Result: Made slime gel. Very thick and heavy. Fun to squeeze.
4. Hand Sanatizer
-Result: Felt like a normal gel ice pack.
1. Pancake Syrup
-Result: Felt similar to the hand sanatizer but more dense.
2. Dish Soap
-Result: Became solid, not a good choice for this application.
3. Lite Corn Syrup
-Result: Very squishy and moldable like a thick gel or paste.
The Light Corn Syrup and Hand Sanatizer felt the best. The Hand Sanatizer felt less dense and lighter, but I would go with the Lite Corn Syrup for safety and it holds it shape pretty well once molded.
Step 3: Bandana Triangle Design: Part 1 Cut Profile
I'll lay out two options for the bandanna ice pack geometry and how to fabricate them. The first is a triangle design that lays from the neck and across the back applying cooling to the body.
First you want to size out the bandanna. Remember that the ice pack must go into the bandanna so it needs to be folded at least once / have a pocket for ice. The standard bandanna was too long for my dog's neck so I decided to cut the bandanna in half.
Best way to size it out is to test the fit. My dog Bunk who weighs thirteen pounds seemed well suited for the standard bandanna cut in half and folded across the middle as it will be once bonded.
Step 4: Bandana Triangle Design Part 2: Iron and Fold
Once you think you have the right size cut a length of bonding fabric / webbing the length of one side of the triangle. Place this piece of bonding material inside the triangle over the edge. Fold the bandanna fabric over the piece of bonding material creating a double layered triangle.
Set your iron to wool setting. Get a scrap piece of fabric and wet it (I used a second blue bandanna for this part). Place the wet scrap fabric over the side you will be bonding. Once the iron is hot / at the right temperature press it down on the edge on top of the wet scrap fabric.
Hold iron down for 10 to 15 seconds. Do not slide the iron, keep it stationary. After the 10 to 15 seconds remove the iron from the fabric.
If the iron does not cover the full length of the triangle side then repeat bonding procedure on any portion of the bonding edge that was not captured with the first press.
Once you have pressed the full the length of the triangle side flip the bandanna over and repeat the process. Be sure to keep the wet scrap fabric between the iron and the bandanna.
Gently tug at the bonded side after to see if it held. You may have to repeat the procedure depending on what fabric you are using. I was using cotton bandannas.
Repeat this procedure for the base of the triangle. Fold the base of the triangle over an inch or so. Cut a length of the bonding fabric to fit within this fold. Then place the wet scrap cloth over the fold and follow the same bonding procedure as before. At the end of this you should have the side and the base of the triangle secured with one side open to insert ice pack later.
Do not bond the last side yet. You need an opening for the pocket.
Step 5: Bandana Triangle Design Part 3 (Optional): the Soft Underbelly and Retaining Strap
Here are two optional additions to the triangle ice pack configuration.
You could add a soft underbelly to go against the dog fair, but it probably isn't really appreciated by a furry dog. Makes more sense to me for dogs with thin fur or if you were to wear it yourself as an ice pack.
Soft Underbelly Addition:
Get a shammy cloth or other soft fabric you want to add. Test a small piece of the fabric with iron bonding fabric to make sure you could bond it securely to the bandanna.
Once you have confirmed that the piece can be mated to the bandanna cut the Shammy or soft cloth into a triangular shape.
Cut three strips of the bonding fabric. Place the soft triangle onto the bandanna side that you want to be the bottom. Insert one strip of the bonding fabric between the soft triangle and the bandanna along one of the edges. Follow the same bonding procedure as in the previous step. Iron over the wet scrap cloth on the edge you want bonded and then flip the bandanna over to iron bond from the opposite side.
Repeat this procedure for the remaining two edges of the soft triangle.
Test and tug the soft fabric to ensure that it is secure.
Another optional addition I made was a strap near the point of the triangle. When the bandanna ice pack is secured to the dog the base points are tied around the dog's neck, the main body of the triangle covers the neck to upper back region, and the point of the triangle should be around the end of the dog's harness. I used this strap to add another anchor point from the ice pack to the dog by tying it to the harness. This will help the ice pack stay in place if your dog is especially active.
Not much to this. Cut a length of fabric about 7 or so inches long and 1 inch wide to be the retaining strap (I used some of the fabric left over from the other bandanna half).
Place the strap near the point of the triangle. Cut a strip of bonding fabric the length of the strap that overlaps with the bandanna ice pack. Should give it a couple inches or so. Repeat the same bonding procedure as before. I had to peel up my previously bonded shammy cloth to do this and rebond it afterwards, but if you intend to add this strap I would do it before the soft underbelly addition.
Step 6: Bandana Triangle Design Part 4: Ice Pack Insert and Seal
Fill a gallon freezer zip lock with about 8oz of lite corn syrup. You may want to add more if you have a bigger dog, but 8oz was good for my dogs back.
Press out the air of the bag before you seal up the top
Then fold the bag into a triangle small enough to fit within the bandanna pocket. You can test the fit here by putting it within the bandanna.
Once you have the right size then duct tape the edges so that the ice pack keeps its triangular shape.
Then insert the ice pack into the bandanna.
Now cut a length of bonding fabric the length of the unsealed bandanna edge and place it between the two unbonded layers of bandanna fabric.
Make sure the ice pack is out of the way inside the pocket and use the previous iron bonding procedure to seal the pocket up.
If you don't want your ice pack permanently within the bandanna then I would recommend you stitch in a length of Velcro or length of zipper, but for my purposes I thought it was fine to keep the ice pack permanently inside it.
Step 7: Bandana Roll Up Design Part 1: Iron and Fold
The bandanna roll up is a cylindrical design.
Take a full bandanna and fold it half. Crease the diagonal base, this will make it easier to secure with bonding fabric / webbing.
Cut three strips of bonding fabric: one for the base and two for each of the short sides.
Insert the strip for the base inside the folded bandanna along the base edge. Use the same iron press procedure to bond the fabric together as done in previous steps.
Insert a strip for one of the sides and secure with iron procedure. Repeat this for last side.
You should now be left with a folded bandanna triangle with top and bottom layers bonded together.
Next fold the point of the triangle to the base of the triangle and crease the fold. It should look like a trapezoid with a smaller triangle across its center.
Now cut two strips for the sides of the smaller triangle and lay it on bandanna where the fold will cover.
Use the iron procedure as before to the bond the sides down securing the bandanna in the trapezoid shape.
Step 8: Bandana Roll Up Design Part 2: Create Pocket
This is the last bonding step.
Fold the short base edge of the trapezoid to the wide base edge of the trapezoid. Crease the fold.
Now cut a strip of bonding fabric the length of the overlap region the short base edge makes with the wide base edge.
Use the iron press procedure to bond the base edges together. You should now have a pocket with openings on either end.
Check the bond to make sure it is secure.
Step 9: Bandana Roll Up Design Part 3: Ice Pack Insert
Fill a gallon zip lock freezer bag with about 8oz of Lite Corn Syrup.
Roll up the zip lock and insert it into the pocket.
The bandanna roll up ice pack can now be tied around the back of your dogs neck.
Comment: I would recommend this design for a larger dog or human. The roll up had a tendency to rotate to the front because his neck wasn't big enough to hold it in place. The triangle ice pack design seems better suited for small dogs.
Step 10: Conclusion
Congratulations. You have built either a triangle or roll up bandanna ice pack for you and or your dog to stay cool.
Now you can brave those hot summer days while staying cool, looking cool and all without breaking the bank.
Also, please let me know if you have used any commercial dog cooling products because I am curious how well they work.
Runner Up in the
Beat the Heat Challenge 2017