Pocket Size Cold Gel Pack




About: I am married with two children. Spring, summer, and fall are my very favorite times of the year. I enjoy working in the yard, sewing, cooking, quilting, gardening, and creating. I do this to keep my sanity.

I always keep a gel pack in my refrigerator or freezer because I use them for burns, headaches, and muscle aches and pains. I used to suffer from migraine headaches and gel packs could knock them out very quickly. I had a serious fall several months ago and just recently started seeing a massage therapist. She told me after my treatment I needed to apply ice to it. The other day I burned myself while I was cooking and needed to apply ice.

Ice is usually needed within the first 24 hours of an injury. I take hot baths a lot to re-leave the pain but I always finish off with a cold pack. Doctors do not recommend using ice packs more than 10 minutes at a time for an area.They suggest removing the ice pack long enough for the skin to return to normal before applying the second and third time around.

It is a pain to use ice or a bulky ice-pack so I decided to try making a miniature ice pack for smaller areas. I remembered alcohol is put in windshield fluid to keep it from freezing, so I did an experiment. I made different solutions to come up with a small gel pack that would not freeze but would make a gel instead. I also did not want it to leak. I wanted it small enough to put in my purse if I had to go somewhere, and I was in pain.This tutorial is what I came up with.

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Step 1: Supplies

This is what you will need:

  • Water
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Blue food coloring
  • Snack size zip lock bags or Punch ball
  • Altoids can or Eye glass case (optional)
  • Rubber bands (optional)
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons and a teaspoon
  • Funnel (optional)

Step 2: The Experiment:

Here is what I did:

  • The first batch I made I used half water and half Alcohol and added food coloring.  
  • I poured the solution into a zip lock bag.
  • Put it in the freezer until it was frozen.  
  • It was too hard.
  • The next batch was perfect for me.  
  • It was slightly icy but limber enough to wrap around my finger.
Ideally a small plastic button bag or bead bag would be the best option for a finger but I did not have one.  
The bag was a little too large but it worked!
The beauty of making your own is you can make them hard,soft, small,or as large as you need them to be.
It does not take very long.
Most people already have what it takes to make them without having to run to the store.
The idea of the food coloring is not to mistake it for a food item.
I would let all family members know what the gel packs are. 
I tried to mark them but a permanent marker did not work.

PLEASE NOTE:  Warning!  Keep this stored out of the reach of small children that might mistake it for a food item!
Do not microwave!  I do not know for sure if it is safe to microwave!
Do not use on small children!

If you have small children don't use the alligator method, they may mistake it for a toy.



Step 3: Making the Gel Pack

Instructions for making the gel pack:
  • Measure 1/2 cup of water in a measuring cup.
  • Add 3 Tablespoons of rubbing alcohol.
  • Several drops food coloring.
  • Stir well.
  • Pour into doubled  zip lock bags to prevent leakage.
  • Remove the air.
  • Seal the bag.
  • Place in the freezer.
  • Use when needed.

Please note:  If using the punching ball bag it is easier to use the funnel to pour the contents and tie the nose in a knot.

Step 4: The Alligator

I love the alligator and here is why:
  • I am not sure if one could put much pressure on a zip lock bag without it leaking.
  • The zip lock bags are great to use over exposed areas like the eyes, hand,  and finger.  
  • The Alligator has worked well for me when I applied pressure from my body.
  • It is strong and does not leak.  

Step 5: Take Along Gel Pack

Here is how you can take it to work or anywhere:
  • Place it in an Altoids tin.
  • Place it in an eye glass case.
  • Put it in your pocket or purse.
  • When you get to work stick it in the fridge or freezer.
The advantage of placing it in a box or case in your pocket or purse is to hopefully reduce a mess if the bag breaks.
I am not sure if one could freeze the boxes without them rusting.
One might rub a little salad oil on the hinges. 


Step 6: Sunshiine's Final Thoughts

I am very happy with the results of my experiment! I have already used these gel packs and have had relief from pain. I won't be buying them any more! I am not sure how long the alligator will last, but I am fairly sure it will out last a balloon. I read where balloons do not last long when they are frozen. I will add a note in this tutorial after a few months of using my gator! I am also going to try balloons to see how long they last.

Thank you for stopping by and please do come again. I am a regular poster here and will be sharing again in the near future. Remember to take care of You and have a nice day!


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    14 Discussions


    6 years ago on Step 6

    Instead of the rubbing alcohol, I use Witch Hazel. It more or less alcohol with methol added. No need for the blue food coloring either, since Witch hazel is green. Plus if it leaks, you can smell the methol.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Wouldn't the methanol eat the plastic bag away?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea. I made two bags, both with 3 to one water to industrial alcohol. One went to the fridge 5 days ago and it's like a gel, sort of half frozen and half liquid and very cold. The other went into the microwave for a minute and a half with a damp cloth; my wife used it to relieve some pain and works beautifully, comfortable and lasts long enough.

    Unfortunately I didn't use quality bags and, even though I put one bag inside another in each there is still a tiny leakage.

    Guaranteed, great to have at home, don't know how I lived without these the for 5X years.

    BTW loved the alligator.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Another option (one I may try if I can find one at a thrift store) is a Seal-a-Meal (TM) bag. Less chance of springing a leak.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Oh yes! I wished that I had one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and do have a great weekend!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hi rimar2000!  After thinking about your comment I think I would not use antifreeze just to be safe. Certain antifreeze here in the US have been known to kill cats. I do not know if they  make antifreeze different than they did several years ago but just to be safe I would not use it. Maybe there is someone here on Instructables that could comment on this subject. Thanks so much for commenting and do have a splendorous day!