Cold Tub Options: A Guide To Choosing A Cold Tub

Hot tubs are a common addition to your outdoor space. However, have you ever thought about a cold tub?

While people often think of ice baths as only for professional athletes, it turns out that anyone can reap the benefits of an ice bath and that you can set one up easily in your own home. All you need is a few pieces of equipment and, of course, ice!

Are you ready to take the plunge? Consider this your ultimate cold tub guide. In this article, we’ll explain what a cold tub is, its benefits, and how you can make a DIY cold tub in a few simple steps. 

What Is a Cold Tub?

Let’s kick off this cold tub guide by explaining what a cold tub is. 

A cold tub is an ice bath. A cold tub also typically refers to the vessel in which you take this bath.

An ice bath involves submerging your body in a tub of ice water for a limited time. This is a common part of the training regimen of professional athletes and is also popular amongst fitness buffs. 

Once you enter a cold tub, you should expect your body to feel a shock, so it’s crucial that you first enter slowly. Make sure that you remember to breathe while you’re submerging yourself. Once you’re completely in, you can relax a little more. A typical ice bath lasts 10 minutes but should never surpass 15 minutes. 

Ice bathing isn’t a new popular trend. People have been doing cold plunges and ice baths for centuries. Ice baths have stood the test of time because of the numerous benefits they deliver to the body. Let’s take a look at some of those benefits.

Usage and Benefits of a Cold Tub

Cold water immersion may not be appealing, but there are many benefits to doing it.

One reason that people try out cold tubs is to reduce inflammation and swelling. The cold temperature constricts your blood vessels when you take an ice bath, which decreases blood flow to your muscles and reduces inflammation and swelling. In fact, ice baths relieve post-workout swelling more than most other methods, including compression socks. 

Some of the other benefits of cold tubs are:

  • Relieve muscle soreness
  • Speed up training recovery
  • Lower your core body temperature
  • Support immunity
  • Improve your mental health

That said, cold water therapy or cold immersion isn’t safe for everyone. Ice baths can actually harm people with certain conditions. It’s important to talk to your doctor before taking the plunge. 

Now that you know more about ice bath benefits, let’s talk about how you can create your own cold tub.

Person surfacing in icy water at bottom of ladder

DIY Cold Tubs Guide – Cold Tub Options

Want to make your own cold tub and take a nice cold plunge? There are many different ways that you can prepare your own ice bath. 

In general, here are the most popular cold tub options:

  • Bathtub
  • Trash can
  • Chest freezer

Let’s take a closer look at each option to help you decide which is best for you.


The bathtub is the first go-to cold tub location for many people. It’s an easy, straightforward option – in general, all you have to do is fill your tub with cold water and ice. 

Start by filling your bathtub with cold water. You should only fill it to about halfway to leave room for ice.

For this method, you should have a water-to-ice ratio of 3:1 to ensure that the bath is cold enough but that the ice water doesn’t entirely freeze over. Once the tub is full, fill it with ice, which should be about three bags depending on your size. 

However, you shouldn’t hop into your bath right away! Make sure to leave the water to get to temp after you add the ice. This should take about 10 minutes. 

Outdoor Bathtub

Another option is to build an outdoor bathtub if you don’t want to use your tub for an ice bath.

You’ll want to use a metal or plastic ice bath tub for the best temperature control, although there are inflatable outdoor bathtubs that may also work. 

The filling up of the ice bath tub is the same as the tub in your bathroom, except that you can experience the benefits of a cold tub outdoors!

Trash Can

You can also use a trash can as your cold tub – a clean one. If you don’t already have a clean trash can lying around, you can order one for the sole purpose of an ice bath. 

Trash cans are great if you want to take your ice bath outdoors. You avoid a potential mess of ice cold water in your bathroom and you won’t have a bathtub in your backyard. 

You go about filling the trash can in a similar way as you do a tub – fill halfway with cold water, then two-thirds of the way with ice. The only difference is that you’ll be standing upright in the trash can instead of lying down. Either way, the benefits are the same. 

Chest Freezer

A chest freezer is the last popular option for your cold tub. 

You may not have ever looked at your chest freezer and considered taking a bath in it, but these freezers are very convenient for an ice bath. This is because they come with a cooling system, making it much easier to regulate the temperature and cool down the water quicker.

Don’t empty your chest freezer just for a 10-minute ice bath. While you can purchase a chest freezer from Amazon, you may want to think about getting one secondhand for this specific purpose. Just check the freezer’s weight capacity and that it is clean of dirt and debris before using it. 

You’ll also need to ensure that there are no cracks or other places for the ice cold water to leak out. Use sealant around the freezer just to be safe. 

Once your freezer is prepped, fill it with water about two-thirds of the way. This method doesn’t necessarily need any ice, as the freezer keeps the water cold. Once the water is cold enough – to a temperature of around 45 to 58 degrees Fahrenheit, you’re ready to hop in! Just make sure to unplug the freezer before you do to avoid any electrical accidents (very unlikely, but just to be safe!). 

The best part about the chest freezer method is that you can keep the water in there for the next time you decide to take a cold bath. However, to avoid bacteria build-up, make sure to change the water at least once a month. 

As you can see from these examples, a cold tub is a great DIY project, and it’s generally a very simple one!

Young woman in bathing suit with hair in bun sitting in cold tub holding piece of ice

Other Cold Tub Guide Tips

Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind when preparing your DIY cold tub:

  • If you’re first starting out, you should always wear clothes when taking your cold plunge. Wearing at least shorts and a t-shirt is the best option. As you get more experienced, you can start wearing less and less.
  • It’s crucial that you have a towel and dry clothes ready as soon as you come out of the tub to get your body back to temp sooner. 
  • Make sure never to spend more than 15 minutes in your cold tub, as this can adversely affect your body. 

Ultimate Cold Tub Guide – The Verdict

Ice baths may sound daunting initially, but they are a great way to help your body recover and improve your overall mental health.

Hopefully, this cold tub guide has inspired you to set up your own cold tub and take advantage of the benefits of this experience.

The most important thing to remember is to ensure that you have a plan to raise your body temperature after the plunge, whether going back inside or huddling around your backyard heater.


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