Which Ice Bath is Right for Me?

Are you ready to cool down and tap into the health benefits of ice baths for your body and mind? Before you take the plunge, we'll give you the lowdown on which ice tub is the most brrrilliant for you! Chill out and reap the rewards of cold water therapy, all in the comfort of your own garden.


Cold shower vs ice bath

Let’s begin with a quick look at how the effects of an ice bath compare to that of a cold shower. Cold showers expose the body to cool water, typically at a temperature lower than room temperature, but not ice-cold. They are a milder form of cold exposure, but can still help with improved circulation, increased alertness, and hopefully a boost in mood.

Outdoor Shower

On the other hand, ice baths immerse your body in ice-cold water, often with temperatures around 10 to 15 degrees Celsius, or lower. This more intense cold exposure can have more noticeable effects on reducing muscle inflammation, soreness, and accelerating recovery after intense physical activity. The cold temperature can constrict blood vessels and decrease metabolic activity, leading to a temporary reduction in swelling and tissue breakdown.

The choice between a cold shower and an ice bath depends on your preferences. You may prefer the more manageable cold of a shower for daily refreshment, or you may be looking for the more intense, but more impactful, experience of an ice bath, especially after gruelling workouts. It's essential to listen to your body and gradually incorporate cold therapy into your routine, instead of jumping right in!


Why buy an ice bath?

Michael Phelps ice bath

If you’re considering an ice tub but aren’t 100% clear on the benefits, let us give you the lowdown. An ice bath isn't just for a quick dip; it's a powerful tool for recovery and mental resilience.

Mental health benefits

Cold exposure induces a stress response in the body, helping to desensitise you to daily stressors and promoting a more resilient mindset. The release of endorphins during cold exposure contributes to an uplifted mood, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Regular use of ice baths has been associated with improved sleep patterns, fostering a more restful night's sleep.

Physical health benefits

Beyond mental resilience, ice baths offer a myriad of physical benefits. Cold exposure helps alleviate muscle soreness and accelerates the recovery process after intense physical activity. Ice baths can aid in reducing inflammation, which is particularly beneficial for individuals dealing with chronic inflammatory conditions. The constriction and subsequent dilation of blood vessels during cold exposure contribute to improved circulation. Cold water immersion has been linked to enhanced immune function, potentially reducing the risk of illness.


Is an ice bath for me?

If you’re still unsure if an ice bath will suit your lifestyle, we’ll explain the sorts of people who benefit most from cold water therapy:

Fitness fanatic

Athletes and gym enthusiasts use recovery pods to help with muscle soreness and moving lactic acid away.

Stress sufferers

Cold exposure has been shown to help with stress reduction and greater resilience, even splashing your face with cold water helps to calm and refresh your mind.

Arthritis conditions

Recovery tubs constrict blood vessels, which can help with alleviating swelling and discomfort in joints and limbs, as well as numbing pain receptors.

Restless sleeper

Icy immersion activates the parasympathetic system, which calms your body and mind. Taking a chilly dip before bedtime can help with a deeper night's sleep, which is essential for your mental health.

Mindfulness practisers

Cold plunges are a great way to practice mindfulness and strengthen attention. After a long day at work, an ice bath allows time to recharge, forget your worries, and concentrate on the here and now.

Wellness seekers

You don't have to be a Wim Hof wannabe to consider an ice bath. They're more popular than ever, and for good reason. If you're on the hunt for a refreshing and revitalising addition to your wellness routine, that improves your psychological as well as physical health, an ice bath might be just what you need.

Please note: It’s important to consult your doctor before using an ice tub, especially if you are pregnant or have any health conditions, especially concerning blood pressure and your heart. Get more advice in our guide to the health benefits of cold water therapy.

How much does it cost to run an ice bath?

The running cost of an ice bath depends on a number of factors:

Woman in an ice bath
  • Electricity: As of October 2023, the average electricity cost in the UK is around £0.14 per kWh. The amount of power an ice bath uses depends on the model you go for.
  • Ice: Ice baths with built in chillers remove the need for ice, so you can forget about the cost of constant restocking.
  • Frequency: The more frequently you use the ice bath, the higher the cost to run.
  • Size: The larger the tub, the more water you’ll need to refill it.
  • Tech: Higher spec ice baths have efficient cooling systems and smart temperature control.
  • Cover: Insulated covers prevent cold air from escaping and dirt from getting in, minimising the need for chemicals.


Built-in chillers vs DIY ice baths

1. Convenience

Ice baths with built-in chillers are designed to be convenient. Your cold plunge is always ready, as and when you need it. Forget about buying ice packs or refilling your tub. 

2. Control

DIY ice baths lack the precision temperature control of built-in chillers. You can tailor the coldness of your ice tub without having to worry about adding more ice. 

3. Cleanliness

Professional ice baths often come with built in filtration and water purification systems. This takes the hassle out of constantly refilling the tub, so you can soak knowing you’ve got crystal clear water. 

4. Sustainability

Ice baths with built-in chillers are durable and high quality. If you’re serious about cold water therapy and working on your wellbeing, consider it an investment in your time and health.


Types of ice baths

Choosing the right ice bath for you involves considering various factors, including your lifestyle, garden size, and budget.

Time is a key consideration, think about how often you're going to use it, how long you want to spend in it, and how much time you're willing to spend maintaining it, before you take the plunge.

Do you want to lie back and chill, or are you after short stints every now and then? Do you mind refilling water and ice weekly, or would you prefer an ice bath that takes the hassle out of cold water therapy?

If you’re looking for convenience, comfort and cleanliness, an ice bath with built in chiller may be for you. If you need a budget-friendly option, or just want to dip your toes in, there’s plenty of affordable ice pods and barrels around nowadays.

Let’s dive into the different types of plunge pools…

DIY ice tub

Does what it says on the tin

  • Price: Building your own ice barrel or repurposing an old tub can be a budget-friendly option. You have the flexibility to use whatever you want, from barrels to bathtubs, to troughs and even old chest freezers!
  • Comfort: Homemade ice baths do the job if you're just looking for a quick dip, and not fussed about stretching out.
  • Maintenance: DIY ice barrels require bags of ice every time you want a dip. They need weekly water changes, or you risk developing dirty water. You also need to keep an eye on water temperature.

Ice pod

Portable and affordable but short on space

  • Price: Ice pods - especially if inflatable - are a budget-friendly option. Brands such as Lumi, Polar and Yeti, are extremely popular for this reason.
  • Comfort: Not the most spacious of ice baths, recovery pods are usually very compact.
  • Portability: Lightweight and transportable.
  • Maintenance: Usually easy to clean, but not the best for temperature regulation - requires regular water changing and topping up with ice every few days.

Stock tanks

Upcycled troughs for old-school dipping

  • Price: A bit more expensive than an ice pod, but relatively affordable.
  • Comfort: Allows you to stretch out, but no built-in seats.
  • Portability: Sturdy and take up more floorspace than ice pods and barrels.
  • Maintenance: Stock tank pools are durable and easy to clean, but ice and water needs changing regularly - otherwise it'll become a breeding ground for mozzies! Monitoring and adjusting water temperature is usually manual.

Ice barrel

Authentic cold plunge for stand-up chilling

  • Price: Not the cheapest option, but not the most expensive.
  • Comfort: Involves standing up, and not the easiest to get in and out of.
  • Portability: Doesn't take up a lot of floorspace, but are usually heavy and best for staying put once set up.
  • Maintenance: Easy to clean and maintain with a waterproof, solid build. Water needs changing once a month and ice fairly regularly. Monitoring and adjusting water temperature may be manual.

    Ice bath with built-in chiller

    Minimal fuss and maximum comfort

    • Price: More of an investment with a higher upfront cost, but there's no need to buy ice bags and refill water every week.
    • Comfort: Often have built-in seats and non-slip floors, some brands such as Chill Tubs and Chilly GOAT have hydrotherapy jets and space for two bathers.
    • Portability: Larger than other ice baths, though not as big as a hot tub.
    • Maintenance: Filtration systems and built-in chillers mean minimal maintenance, cleaner water, and icy water even on summer days.


      How to use an ice bath

      Begin cautiously with a temperature you're comfortable with, we usually find this is around 15c. If you’re a cold water newbie, immerse yourself for thirty seconds to learn what your limits are. We recommend your initial sessions last up to a maximum of five minutes, or whenever you start to shiver - whichever is first. Gradually work your way up to fifteen-minute sessions over time. This will allow your body the time to adjust and reduce any risks. The health benefits of cold plunge start from half a minute, so there’s no need to push yourself.


      How to maintain and clean an ice bath

      We prefer the hassle-free convenience and comfort of an ice bath with a built-in chiller. Without having to worry about ice packs or maintaining temperature on hot summer days, you can enjoy clean, chilled water ready any time. If you opt for an ice tubs with chiller, use a sanitiser regularly, and change your filter every month.

      If you choose an ice pod or barrel, make sure you stir the water daily, change the water weekly, and top up the tub with ice every few days.

      When you drain any type of ice bath, give it a clean with warm soapy water. It's also best practise to keep a lid on to stabilise temperature and prevent debris from getting in.

      Parting advice

      If you're ready to take the plunge with an ice bath, weigh up the physical and mental health benefits against the operational costs and maintenance time. Whether you opt for a DIY ice barrel or invest in a high-tech ice bath with chiller, we're sure you'll find the ice bath that'll blend into your lifestyle. Your body and mind will thank you!

      If you need more advice, just give us a call on 01482 212322 or email enquiries@outdoorlivinghottubs.co.uk.

      If you’re interested in purchasing an ice bath, pop into our Leeds and Hull showrooms, we’re open 7 days a week. Not near one of our Yorkshire showrooms? No problem, you can book a video call with our showroom team.

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