9 Best DIY Cold Plunge Tub Ideas: Easy Step-by Step Guide

Ok, so if you are looking at how to make a diy cold plunge or DIY ice bath ideas, you probably know what cold therapy is. 

You may have heard it from Wim Hof, Dr. Huberman, or a random biohacker on TikTok that said cold water therapy is amazing.

From all the physical benefits it provides to all the mental resilience it can give you. 

Either way, there’s a problem. You probably aren’t a celebrity, millionaire, or influencer that can drop a couple grand on a cold plunge.

Or maybe, you have always been the hands-on type of person that just loves home projects.

Either way, you are in the perfect place.

I’ll walk you through several different DIY methods to enjoy cold therapy at home.All these options will range from difficulty, price, and purpose. So, you are bound to find a method that works for you.

Let’s dive in!

Overview:

What are the Benefits of DIY Ice Baths?

White block sign that spells out "DIY"

Making your own DIY cold plunge is a great way to benefit from all the pros of cold exposure and minimize the cons.

So, instead of paying for a super expensive membership you can do it from the comfort of your own home. 

You can customize the size, shape, and even the water temperature – making it completely tailored to you. 

The other thing I love is that depending on the method you choose, you can save big bucks, by reusing materials you already have or cheap things you can get at your local hardware store.

Last thing, I promise, it can be a great project.

For some it’s puzzles, jogging, and for others it’s building their own cold plunge pool!

So after researching a lot, i’ve found the best DIY methods to create your very own cold plunge.

Enough talking, let’s get into it!

DIY Cold Plunge Ideas:

1. DIY Plunge Chest Freezer ($$-$$$)

Chest Freezer for DIY cold plunge

PROS:

  • Powerful Cooling: Chest freezers have an ability to reach and maintain extremely low temperatures (perfect for cold therapy and muscle recovery).
  • Ample Freezer Space: Unlike smaller containers, a chest freezer provides a significant amount of space, allowing you to immerse your entire body comfortably. 
  • Sturdy Build: They are designed to be durable and resistant, which means you’re building your cold plunge tub on a reliable foundation. 

CONS:

  • Cost: Converting a chest freezer into a cold plunge tub might be slightly more expensive than other DIY options, mainly because of the initial investment in the chest freezer itself. 
  • Space: While the ample freezer space is a pro it can also be a con if you have limited space in your home. 
  • Fragility: Sounds kind of counter-intuitive to “sturdy build”, but what I mean is if one thing breaks, you will most likely have to replace it all, not just one part.
  • Portability: They are usually too big and heavy to move around.

What you will need:

  • Saw: For cutting pool noodles or foam boards to the correct size to fit the interior walls of the chest freezer.
  • Measuring Tape: Essential for accurately measuring the available space.
  • Drill: Needed for making holes if you choose to install handles for easy movement.
  • Caulking Gun: Required for applying waterproof sealant or silicone caulking around the edges of the freezer’s lid.
  • Screws and Fittings: If you decide to add handles to the chest freezer, you’ll need appropriate screws and fittings to attach them securely to the freezer’s sides.
  • Screwdriver: To fasten the screws and fittings when attaching handles to the chest freezer.
  • Thermometer: An essential tool for monitoring and maintaining the temperature inside the  freezer during the cooling process, ensuring it reaches the desired coldness for your cold plunge experience

How-To Guide:

1. Choose the Right Chest Freezer:

Measure the available space where you plan to place the chest freezer. Then, Look for a chest freezer that fits well in the designated area and offers enough space to accommodate your body comfortably. Consider energy-efficient models to minimize electricity costs.

 2. Prepare the Chest Freezer:

Clean the interior of the chest freezer thoroughly, removing any dirt or debris. Make sure to check the condition of the freezer to ensure there are no damages or leaks that could compromise its function.

3. Add Insulation:

Line the inside walls of the chest freezer with pool noodles or foam boards to improve insulation. Next, cut the pool noodles or foam boards to fit the dimensions of the freezer’s interior. Finally, use waterproof adhesive to attach the insulation material securely to the walls.

4. Seal the Lid:

Apply waterproof sealant or silicone caulking around the edges of the freezer’s lid to create a watertight seal. Ensure the sealant covers gaps or openings to prevent water leakage during use.

5. Install Handles (Optional):

If your chest freezer does not come with built-in handles, consider adding sturdy handles on the sides for easy movement and transportation. Make sure you use appropriate screws and fittings to attach the handles securely to the freezer.

6.Test the Freezer:

Fill the chest freezer with water and turn it on to test its cooling capacity. Allow the freezer to run for a few hours and monitor the temperature to ensure it reaches the desired coldness.

7. Prepare the Cold Plunge Tub:

Once the freezer has reached the desired temperature, drain the water and prepare the tub for use. Fill the chest freezer with cold water and add plenty of ice to achieve your desired plunge temperature.

2. DIY Cold Plunge Barrel  ($$)

wooden ice barrels lined up

PROS:

  • Easy Assembly: DIY cold plunge barrels are relatively simple to construct, making it accessible for those with basic DIY skills.
  • Reusability: It can be used for multiple cold plunge sessions over time.
  • Customization: DIY cold plunge barrels offer the flexibility to personalize the design, insulation, and liner materials to suit your preferences.

CONS:

  • Limited Capacity: The smaller size of a DIY cold plunge barrel might not be ideal for group cold plunges or those seeking a larger immersion area.
  • Insulation and Leakage:  If not insulated or assembled properly, cold plunge barrels can easily leak and create a mess.

What you will need:

  • Large Barrel (e.g., whiskey or wine barrel) – You’ll need a sizable barrel to comfortably fit your body and hold the cold water for the plunge.
  • Insulation (e.g., foam or blanket) – Insulation is essential to retain the cold temperature of the water, providing an invigorating experience.
  • Liner (e.g., pond or pool liner) – The liner ensures that your DIY cold plunge remains leak-proof and water-tight.
  • Ice – Adding ice to the water helps achieve the optimal temperature range for an effective cold plunge.
  • Drainage system (optional) – If you prefer easy water removal, consider adding a drainage system with a drill and a hose or valve
  • Saw – Use a saw to cut the insulation and make precise adjustments for a perfect fit in the barrel.
  • Drill – The drill is necessary for creating a drainage hole in the barrel if you choose to add the optional drainage system.
  • Screwdriver – This tool may come in handy for securing the liner in place or making any additional adjustments.
  • Measuring tape – Ensure accurate measurements for the insulation and liner, allowing them to fit snugly in the barrel.

How-To Guide:

1. Choose your barrel:

Select a suitable wooden or plastic barrel that can comfortably fit your body and hold water without leaks (you can repurpose whiskey or wine barrels.)

2. Add insulation:

Cut and apply foam insulation or hay bales to cover the sides and bottom of the barrel. 

3. Add liner:

Line the inside of the barrel with a pond or pool liner to prevent leaks and ensure your DIY cold plunge remains watertight.

4. Add water:

Fill the barrel with cold water and add ice to reach the desired temperature range of 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. The ice helps in achieving the perfect cold plunge experience.

5. Optional drainage system:

If you prefer easy water removal, use a drill to create a hole in the bottom of the barrel. You can attach a hose or valve for straightforward drainage whenever needed.

3. DIY Cold Plunge With a Chiller ($$$$)

DIY cold plunges can be great, especially with a chiller. You can optimize an ice barrel and turn it into a cold plunge or just use any container available to you.

This is a great set-up demonstration on how to build your own cold plunge tub!

PROS:

  • Precise Temperature Control: Using a chiller in your DIY cold plunge allows for precise temperature control. You can set the water to your preferred coldness.
  • Faster Cooling: Chillers are designed to cool water rapidly, meaning you can get your cold plunge ready in a shorter amount of time compared to traditional methods like adding ice.
  • Energy Efficiency: Some chillers are energy-efficient, which can save you money on electricity costs over time, especially if you plan to use your cold plunge regularly.
  • Low Maintenance: Once set up, chillers generally require minimal maintenance, making it a convenient and hassle-free option for keeping your cold plunge water cold.
  • Longer Sessions: With a chiller maintaining a constant temperature, you can enjoy longer cold plunge sessions without the water warming up too quickly.

CONS:

  • Requires electricity: Pretty self-explanatory. Requires you to be close to an outlet or have the cords necessary to connect it.
  • Not portable: Because of its size and build, it really isn’t portable.
  • Build it: Setting up a chiller system may require some technical knowledge and plumbing work, which could be challenging for those without experience.
  • Costly: The initial investment for a chiller can be higher compared to traditional methods like using ice or natural cooling methods.
  • Noise: Some chillers can produce noise during operation, which may be a concern if you prefer a quiet and peaceful environment during your cold plunge sessions.

What you will need:

  • Container
  • Water Chiller (usually comes with pump included)
  • 5-10ft Clear Vinyl Hose (1/2 Inner Diameter)
  • Inline Filter
  • Plumber’s Tape
  • Hose Clamps (1/2 inch)
  • Brass or Plastic Hose Barb Adapter (1/2 Inner Diameter, 1/2 Male Inner Pipe)
  • Measuring Tape

How-To Guide:

1.  Select the Right Container:

Choose a container that is large enough to comfortably accommodate your body during the cold plunge. Make sure it is sturdy and watertight to hold the water without any leaks.

2. Measure and Cut the Vinyl Hose:

Using the measuring tape, determine the required length of the clear vinyl hose. Cut the hose to size, ensuring it will reach from the chiller to the container without any excess.

3. Install the Inline Filter:

Attach the inline filter to one end of the clear vinyl hose. This filter will help ensure the water remains clean during the circulation process.

4. Connect the Chiller:

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to connect the chiller to the other end of the clear vinyl hose. Ensure a secure connection using hose clamps and plumber’s tape to prevent any leaks.

5. Position:

the Chiller and Container Place the chiller near the container, making sure it is stable and level. Position the container in a convenient location for your cold plunge setup.

6. Add Water:

Fill the container with water to the desired level. The amount of water will depend on the size of your container and how deep you want the cold plunge to be.

5. DIY Cold Plunge Ice Bath ($)

Bath Tub

PROS:

  • Convenient: Just walk into your bathroom and take a cold ice bath.
  • Cheap: You can make your ice bath at home at a very minimal cost.
  • No building: You don’t need to make an ice bath. Most of us have one at home!
  • Low commitment:  Since you don’t have the overhead cost, don’t have to build anything, or go anywhere really. You aren’t losing money.

CONS:

  • Poor temperature regulation: The temperature of your ice bath can be hard to control because, 1. ice melts, and 2. you can directly control it. You can only add more or less ice.
  • Ice required: The amount of ice you need can be annoying! Where do you put all of it, it’s melting and is a recurring expense and trip to the grocery store.
  • Low commitment: Since it is low commitment, you may not stick to your cold therapy routine and won’t be able to reap all the benefits it has to offer.

What you will need:

  • Bathtub: Utilize your bathtub as the vessel for creating your DIY ice bath.
  • Cold Water and Ice Cubes: Pretty self-explanatory.
  • Optional: Towels, bathrobe, and essential oils for comfort and warmth after the cold plunge.

How-To Guide:

1. Prepare Your Tub:

Clean your bathtub before filling it with cold water. Make sure the tub is free from any soap or debris.

2. Filling Your Tub:

Turn on the cold water faucet and fill the tub to a level that allows you to comfortably immerse your body during the ice bath.

3. Add Ice Cubes:

Carefully add the ice cubes to the cold water, creating the ice bath. Adjust the amount of ice according to your preferred temperature and comfort level.

4. Taking an Ice Bath:

Slowly step into the ice bath, immersing your body up to your desired depth. Allow your body to acclimate gradually to the cold temperature.

5. Relax and Enjoy:

Stay in the ice bath for the desired duration (typically 1-15 minutes depending on where you are at). Focus on breathing deeply and relaxing your body during this time.

6. After the Ice Bath:

Once you’ve completed your cold plunge, gently towel off or put on a warm bathrobe to help your body return to a comfortable temperature.

Ice baths are great! My favorite method for beginners.

Awesome way to enjoy the perks of cold water therapy without having to leave your bathroom. Sure, there might be a few downsides, like regulating the temperature and dealing with all that ice, but not a deal breaker!

DIY ice baths are budget-friendly and low commitment, both of which I love.

5. DIY Cold Plunge Pool  ($$$$)

Cold plunge pool with ladder

PROS:

  • Customizable Size: Building your own cold plunge pool allows you to customize its size and depth according to your preferences and available space.
  • Enhanced Temperature Control: With proper insulation and equipment, you can achieve better temperature control, ensuring a consistent and comfortable cold plunge experience.
  • Long-Term Investment: While the initial cost may be higher, a well-built DIY cold plunge pool can be a long-term investment in your health and wellness.

CONS:

  • Higher Cost: Building a cold plunge pool can be more expensive compared to other DIY options like using a galvanized water trough or a DIY plunge kit.
  • Construction Complexity: Creating a cold plunge pool requires more extensive construction work, which might be challenging for those without experience or access to professional help.
  • Space Requirements: A cold plunge pool requires sufficient outdoor space, which might not be feasible for everyone.
  • Legal Requirements: Constructing a DIY cold plunge pool may involve obtaining permits and complying with building codes, which can be complex and time-consuming.
  • Architectural Impact: The pool’s construction might influence the property’s appearance and could be subject to neighborhood rules or homeowners’ association restrictions, necessitating careful planning and consideration.
  • Not portable: Obviously not portable

What you will need:

  • Insulation (e.g., foam or other suitable materials)
  • Pool Liner
  • Cold Water Source (e.g., hose or pool pump)
  • Ice (for achieving the desired cold temperature)
  • Chiller system or Ice tanks (for enhanced temperature control)
  • Pool filter and water circulation system (optional but recommended for water maintenance)
  • Concrete or suitable materials for pool construction
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Concrete Mixer
  • Trowel
  • Concrete Float
  • Concrete Edger
  • Concrete Tamper (Screed)
  • Level
  • Measuring Tape
  • Marking Paint or Flags
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Safety Equipment (work gloves, safety glasses, hard hat)

How-To Guide:

1. Plan and Design:

Decide on the size, shape, and location of your DIY cold plunge pool. Obtain any necessary permits or approvals if required in your area.

2. Excavation:

Dig the hole for the cold plunge pool, ensuring it is deep and wide enough to accommodate your desired size. Level the bottom of the pool for stability.

3. Pool Construction:

Build the walls of the cold plunge pool using concrete or other suitable materials. Ensure proper reinforcement for structural integrity.

4. Insulation:

Apply insulation to the walls and bottom of the pool to enhance cold retention and prevent heat transfer. Consider using high-quality foam insulation or other appropriate materials.

5. Liner Installation:

Install a durable pool liner to create a watertight seal and prevent leaks. Make sure the liner fits snugly and covers the entire interior surface of the pool.

6. Cold Water Source:

Connect a cold water source, such as a hose or pool pump, to continuously fill the cold plunge pool with fresh water.

7. Chiller System or Ice Tanks:

To regulate the water temperature, install a chiller system or use ice tanks to keep the water consistently cold during your cold plunge sessions.

8. Pool Filter and Water Circulation System (Optional):

For water maintenance, consider adding a pool filter and water circulation system to keep the water clean and fresh.

Building a DIY cold plunge pool is a substantial project that requires careful planning, proper construction, and a ton of materials and equipment required.

If you have the resources, space, and enjoy intense DIY projects, this cold plunge pool can be a great option!

6. Galvanized Water Trough ($$)

PROS

  • Large Capacity: Galvanized water troughs typically offer ample space, allowing for full cold water immersion during cold water therapy.
  • Durable Construction: Made from galvanized steel, these troughs are sturdy and can withstand cold water and ice.
  • Versatile: Different sizes, shapes, and materials available.

CONS:

  • Size and Space: The larger size of galvanized water troughs may require more space, so ensure you have enough room for installation.
  • Temperature Regulation: Maintaining a consistent temperature might be a challenge due to the large volume of water, requiring additional ice and monitoring.

What you will need:

  • Galvanized Water Trough
  • Foam Insulation, Hay, blanket, etc.
  • Pond or Pool Liner
  • Ice (for achieving the desired cold temperature)
  • Towels (for drying off after the cold plunge)
  • Timer (for timing your cold water exposure session)
  • Saw (for cutting insulation and liner to size)
  • Measuring Tape
  • Drill (if adding a drainage system)
  • Hose or Valve (for optional drainage system)
  • Towels (for drying off after the cold plunge)

How-To Guide:

1. Prepare the Trough:

Clean the galvanized water trough thoroughly to ensure it is free from any debris or contaminants.

2. Add Insulation:

Apply foam insulation or hay to the sides and bottom of the trough to enhance cold retention. Cut the insulation to fit snugly inside the trough.

3. Line the Trough:

Install a pond or pool liner inside the trough to prevent leaks and ensure a watertight seal. Trim the liner to fit the dimensions of the trough accurately.

4. Optional Drainage:

If you want an easy way to drain the water after use, you can add a drainage system. Use a drill to create a hole in the bottom of the trough and attach a hose or valve for efficient water removal.

5. Fill with Water:

Fill the trough with cold water, leaving enough space for the addition of ice.

6. Add Ice:

Carefully add ice to the water, reaching the desired temperature for your cold plunge.

7. Take the Plunge:

Once the water is at the right temperature, submerge yourself into the galvanized water trough and set the timer!

8. After the Plunge:

When you’re done, dry off with towels and store the ice for future use or drainage if needed.

7. DIY Plunge Kits ($)

DIY

PROS:

  • Affordable Solution: DIY plunge kits offer a cost-effective way to create your own cold plunge setup without breaking the bank.
  • Customizable: These kits often provide flexibility, allowing you to tailor the plunge to your specific preferences and available space.
  • All-in-One Package: DIY plunge kits typically come with all the necessary components, making it convenient and easy to assemble.
  • Instructions: Step-by-step instructions to properly build your DIY cold plunge.

CONS:

  • Assembly Required: Setting up the DIY plunge kit might involve some assembly work, which could be challenging for those with limited DIY experience.
  • Temperature Control: Depending on the kit, maintaining a specific temperature in the plunge might be trickier compared to specialized tubs or chillers.
  • Durability: The durability of DIY plunge kits may vary depending on the materials used, so choose wisely to ensure longevity

What you will need:

  • DIY Plunge Kit (includes the barrel/tub, insulation, liner, and other necessary components)
  • Ice (for achieving the desired cold temperature)

How-To Guide:

  1. Choose the Right Kit: Select a DIY plunge kit that matches your preferences and budget. 
  2. Assemble the Plunge: Follow the instructions provided with the kit to assemble the barrel/tub, add insulation, and install the liner to prevent leaks.
  3. Enjoy the benefits of cold therapy!

 

Building your own DIY cold plunge at home made simple.

What I love about this option is that you have the DIY aspect of things, it is affordable, you have all the equipment and materials in one place, and clear step-by-step instructions on how to execute.

Perfect middle ground if you ask me!

Bonus Options:

Ok,  I know this is cheating. But, I had to. These are technically not DIY, but great alternatives.

Not all of us want to make a chest freezer ice bath or build a whole pool.

If this isn’t for you, just skip through!

8. Purchase Ice Barrel or Cold Plunge Tub  ($-$$$)

edge cold plunge
Credit: Edgetheorylabs.com

Pros:

  • Ready-Made Convenience: Buying an ice barrel or cold plunge tub offers instant convenience. No need to build an ice bath or learn how to make a cold plunge tub; it’s ready to use right away.
  • Temperature Regulation: These specialized tubs often come with features to help regulate the water temperature, which will make your experience 10x better.
  • Durability: Ice barrels and cold plunge tubs are designed to withstand cold water and ice, making them durable and long-lasting options for regular use.
  • Versatility: There is basically a product for everyone. Meeting different needs, likes, and dislikes.

Cons:

  • Cost: The upfront cost of purchasing an ice barrel or cold plunge tub can be higher compared to DIY alternatives like using a bathtub. Not always though! They may range from oddly cheap ($60) to oddly expensive (The price of a used car).

This is honestly a great alternative! If you do your research, you can definitely find affordable tubs or plunges that are more optimized and enjoyable.

Most of them offer warranty’s and you can even spice them up and DIY them yourself!

9. Nature’s Way ($)

woman in bathing suit cold pluunging

Pros:

  • Free of Cost: Utilizing natural water bodies eliminates the need for additional expenses, as you can enjoy cold plunging without any setup or equipment costs.
  • Abundant Space: Natural water bodies offer ample space for multiple people to enjoy cold plunging together, making it a great option for groups or families.
  • Health Benefits: Immersing yourself in natural water bodies for cold plunging can provide additional health benefits, such as exposure to mineral-rich water and the therapeutic effects of being in nature.

Cons:

  • Water Quality: The water quality in natural bodies can vary, and it’s essential to be cautious about potential pollutants, bacteria, or algae that might be present.
  • Seasonal Limitations: Cold plunging in natural water bodies might not be feasible during extreme weather conditions, such as freezing temperatures in winter or dangerous water conditions during storms.
  • Temperature Variability: The water temperature in natural bodies can vary depending on the weather and location, making it challenging to maintain consistent cold water temperatures.

Had to include this option as well. Although it has many restrictions it can still be a great alternative. No building, maintenance, or investment require. Just you and good old nature.

Long Story Short:

Man shirtless with shocked face under shower head

Wether you are looking to optimize your recovery, build mental resilience, or reduce inflammation, DIY cold plunges are a great way to do it.

With DIY methods you can get all the benefits form it and increasing overall convenience, while reducing the overall cost.

There are plenty of DIY options you can chose from. From easy and simple to more difficult and slightly more expensive. Like we covered, there are also different pros and cons.

What can I say? I’m a girl that appreciates simplicity! They are two low-cost options that require less effort and are easy to assemble. 

These Are My Personal Favorite Methods:

  1. DIY Cold plunge Kit
  2. DIY Ice Bath

DIY Cold Plunge Ideas: FAQ

How cold should the water be in a DIY Cold Plunge Tub?

The ideal temperature for a cold plunge is usually between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It varies depending your experience level!

How long should I stay in a DIY Cold Plunge Tub?

The duration of your cold plunge session can also vary. It is generally recommended to start with shorter durations, especially if you are new to the cold. Around 1-3 minutes, and gradually increase the time as your body adapts to the cold. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard.

Starting cold therapy is a process!

Can I add ice cubes to my cold plunge?

Yes, adding cool enough water and ice cubes to your DIY Cold Plunge Tub can be great to reach the 50°F -60 °F desired. 

How often should I use a DIY cold plunge tub?

The frequency of using a DIY Cold Plunge Tub can depend on your personal goals and preferences. Some people use it every day for regular cold therapy, while others use it a few times a week. 

Depending on your goals, you may want to do it or avoid it post-workout!

Can I build a DIY cold plunge tub without a lot of space?

Yes, you can still build a DIY Cold Plunge Tub even if you have limited space. There are smaller options available, such as using a stock tank or even the bathtub in your bathroom. Get creative and find a solution that suits your needs.

About the Author, Sophia Victoria
About the Author, Sophia Victoria

Sophi is a health, wellness, and lifestyle blogger who uses, research, and tests products and theories to help others improve their mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. With her own eating disorder journey, regulating her hormones, and working with 10+ nutritionists, she deeply understands the health and wellness. Sophi is also well-knowledged in self-development and committed to sharing her knowledge, experience, and expertise with her readers.

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