Survival Buzz: Make A Gel Ice Pack On the Cheap

Gaye LevyGaye Levy | Jul 3, 2019



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Perhaps it is from all of the shoving, lifting, and carrying of moving boxes but for one reason or another, both Shelly and I had aches and pains in our backs that went beyond what my essential oils could relieve on their own.  It was time to hit the ice, literally, using a gel ice pack.

Have you priced gel ice packs lately?  They run $10 to $15 each and as you know, one is not enough.  You need to have a backup pack to use while a melted ice pack is rejuvenating itself in the freezer.  When I turned to the internet  for help, oh my gosh, I found hundreds of recipes for DIY gel ice packs.

Make A Gel Ice Pack On the Cheap | Backdoor Survival

Being a DIY-selfer, I got out the ingredients, such as they were, and made up a couple of packs using common household items, namely isopropyl alcohol, water, and zipper-style plastic bags.

DIY Gel Ice Pack

  • 1 gallon zip-style plastic bags (I like these)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups Isopropyl/rubbing alcohol

Fill the plastic bag with rubbing alcohol and water. If desired, add a couple of drops of blue (or other) food coloring.  The purpose of the food coloring is to distinguish your ice pack from frozen drinking water.  (You do use the empty space in your freezer for water, right?)

Set the bag in a bowl (I used a large Pyrex measuring cup like this one) and place it in the freezer for an hour or two.

Remove the partially frozen bag and squeeze out as much air as you can.  Return to the freezer and keep it there overnight or until it becomes slushy/firm.

Note:  I tried to remove the air in the beginning and made a mess.  It is much more tidy to wait until the ice pack has started to set up.

Make A Gel Ice Pack On the Cheap | Backdoor Survival

Remove from the freezer and double bag so it does not leak.  I used my FoodSaver but another zipper bag will also work.

Make A Gel Ice Pack On the Cheap | Backdoor Survival

Your gel ice pack is now ready to use over and over again.  Do remember that as with commercial gel ice packs, wrap your DIY version in a towel before using.

Make A Gel Ice Pack On the Cheap | Backdoor Survival

Ahhh!  Relief at Last!

According to the Spine-Health website, an alternative filler is to simply to use dish soap, which has a gel-like consistency and will also freeze/retain the cold.  I did not try it so if you do, be sure to let me know how it works out.

I calculated the total cost of the DIY gel ice pack to be $2.00.  Keeping the price low requires that you do not overpay for the rubbing alcohol.    Walgreens, Costco, or even the local supermarket should have dirt cheap options.  You should have a goodly supply in your first aid kit anyway.

This made a fairly large, beefy, ice pack.  You could cut the ingredients in half for a lighter pack or use a one quart bag to make a smaller pack.  A smaller ice pack will work better on elbows, ankles and knees.  As long as the proportions are right (water to alcohol 2:1), you will be fine.  By the way, I used 70% Isopropyl alcohol in my gel ice packs.

That pretty much is all there is to it.  I just wish I had thought of this sooner so I had a couple of packs on hand before we were desperate.  Okay, desperate is not quite what I mean but we were definitely uncomfortable.

And what about those essential oils?  We found that applying essential oils before applying the ice pack treatment really enhanced their therapeutic value.  In our case, we used the Amend+ blend from Spark Naturals (20 drops mixed into 1/2 ounce of a Simple Salve you make yourself, coconut oil, or Base Salve).  Other oils that may be beneficial include lavender, rosemary, and peppermint which, by the way, are the oils used in DIY Miracle Salve.  Imagine that!

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Other Announcements

Two of my favorite companies have some great Labor Day weekend specials going on.

Spark Naturals is offering 30% off on all essential oils, kits, blends, and full-size salves when you use my discount code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout.  In addition, shipping is free on all orders in the contiguous US.

Over at Buy Emergency Foods, you can get 10% off your entire order using the code LABORDAY.  Sales at Buy Emergency Foods are rare so this is a great opportunity to pick up some freeze dried food for storage purposes.  As always, shipping is always free at BEF.

The Final Word

Every week I think about writing an “I am tired” essay.  You know the dialog well.  I am tired of working so hard to prepare for something that may never happen.  I am tired of political corruption, and I am tired of having to put up with corporate crooks (especially in the health industry).  Yet still, like you, I plug away, with no end in sight.

Today, as we head into Labor Day in the United States, I want to remind you that regardless of your stage of life, being prepared is a good thing as long as the process does not keep you awake at night.  Take it slow and easy if you must, and above all, keep your head about you.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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Here are some items related to today’s article as well as some of the items I include in my personal Bug Out Bag.  For more, read How To Build Your Own Perfect Bug Out Bag.

Amend +- Soothing Blend:  This essential oil blend from Spark Naturals is potent stuff.  I dilute it using 20 drops per 1/2 ounce of carrier oil or simple salve.  As with all Spark Naturals purchases, you enjoy a 10% discount using code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout.

FlexiKold Gel Cold Pack:  I can’t think of a good reason for not making your own gel ice pack but if you are not so inclined, check out this one.

Hefty OneZip Storage Bags, Gallon:  I prefer these Hefty OneZip bags to the Ziploc brand.

LifeStraw Personal Water FilterThe Amazon Top Ten Most Wanted Survival and Outdoor Items Backdoor Survival:  The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultra light personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2oz.  making it perfect for the prepper. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.

RAVPower 15W Solar Charger with Dual USB Ports: This compact, three panel, solar charger will charge two devices at once, including tablets, smartphones, Kindles, and even AA/AAA battery chargers.  Value priced at about $50.  For more information, read: Gear Review: RAVPower 15W Solar Charger with Dual USB Ports.

MPOWERD Luci EMRG Inflatable Solar Lantern:  This is the original Luci EMRG Solar lantern. I have put mine through its paces and it is one tough cookie.  It has weathered both a wind storm and rain storm while hanging outdoors for a month.  Lightweight, waterproof and shatterproof, Luci EMRG provides ultra-bright, reliable light to guide your way indoors and out, through blackouts or extreme weather conditions.  At $9.99 with free Prime shipping, it is a great value.

Luci EMRG 250_18

Tac Force TF-705BK Tactical Assisted Opening Folding Knife 4.5-Inch Closed: This is a great knife that is currently priced at about $8.00 with free shipping.  Not only that, it is ranked as the #1 best seller in both the camping and hunting knives categories.  The reviews raved about this knife so I bought one, used it, and and can recommend it.  See The Inexpensive Tac-Force Speedster Outdoor Knife.

BaoFeng UV5R Dual-Band Two-Way Radio:  I own two of these.  Something to keep in mind that if you are just planning to listen, you do not need a license.  Still, it is a good idea because it will make understanding the technical aspects of HAM radio a whole lot easier.  Price alert! As of this writing, the price of the BaoFeng UV-5R is only $27.


Essential Oils: Deal of the Week

Spark Naturals Weekly Sales | Backdoor Survival
And remember, you can always use the code BACKDOORSURVIVAL for an additional 10% off your entire SN order.  When it comes to saving money, every little bit helps.



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Updated Jul 3, 2019

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8 Responses to “Survival Buzz: Make A Gel Ice Pack On the Cheap”

  1. Wow, what a cheap thrill! I get my isopropyl alcohol from the $ store. Might be cheaper in larger bottles at other stores, but, I always have a dollar so it works for me. =) I will make these today! Really did appreciate your closing comments. They were so down-to-earth real and most definitely applicable. Just this week I allowed the “just quit, you’re stupid” thoughts to linger in my mind a bit. Cast ’em out….but nevertheless they were there. I suppose they come to us all. Encouragement is a strong motivator and a most needful one at that. Thanks for the calm, but powerful pep talk. You are appreciated!

  2. Okay Gaye, this is seriously cool!

  3. Great idea. Another way is to put Karo Syrup in a zip lock bag (double bag) and freeze. It will stay mushy and works great.

  4. An environmentally-friendly alternative to the commercial bags. Even if it leaks, it’s only alcohol and water, which is what we use to disinfect hands in a mass-casualty situation. You have the best, workable ideas, ones that I can use right now. Thank you. I hope you continue to share your comments and ideas with us. Best website for prepping ever!

  5. Thank you for the reminder, Gaye! I was ‘going to’ make up a couple of these a two months ago. At my age & husband’s we’re in constant need of the ice first, then heat remedy. I’m glad you mentioned adding this on top of the applied essential oils. It would’ve taken a ‘desparate’ situation here at our house to think of that. Live & Learn, we all do. Tired: Yep, and putting one foot in front of the other. Aren’t we all. When I lay awake at night thinking of what all I need to do, stock what I lack or am short on, and feel frazzled I hear my Father saying “I will direct your steps. I know what will happen and I wil lead you in the right way.” I’ll calm down and my focus is better the next day. So much to do and so little time. Does anyone else feel like time is short? Alright, off I go to make up a couple of Gaye’s inspiration. I’m in need now!

  6. I save the reusable ice packs that my partners insulin is packed with, we keep them in our freezers incase our electricity is out.

  7. We use the flat reusable ice cubes, vacuum packed so if one breaks it doesn’t run all over. Just make sure to leave about half an inch spacing between each which lets it flex.
    You also need to use a board to lay them out in rows. Then lift the board up to the vac sealer without them all sliding into a pile.
    Or you could just use some silicon caulk and let it dry before vac sealing.

  8. This didn’t work, I ended up with a cold liquid but not frozen at all.


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