Chill Safely: Ice Bath Maintenance and Building Cold Tolerance

The invigorating experience of an ice bath is more popular than ever - and for good reason! Cold tolerance can help both your body and mind. Whether you're a seasoned athlete or just starting on your wellness journey, safety should always be your top priority. We'll delve into building cold tolerance safely, ice bath maintenance tips, and cleaning routines for crystal clear water, so you can get the most out of your cold plunge. 


Cold tolerance tips 

Icy water

1. Doctor's orders

Before immersing yourself in icy depths, it’s important to talk with your doctor, especially if you are pregnant or suffer from health conditions, particularly concerning your heart and blood pressure.

2. Protect your skin

Wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt and shorts help shield your skin from the cold. Get warm, dry clothing and a bathrobe ready for after your dip. 

3. Submerge slowly 

Don’t just dive right in… Start by dipping your toes in, then your feet until you’re up to your waist. If you’re used to ice bathing, you can also dip your head under. 

4. Short and sweet sessions

Know your limits. Begin with shorter ice bath sessions, gradually increasing duration as your body becomes accustomed and your cold tolerance increases. Set an alarm to make sure you don’t stay in your ice tub for too long. If you find yourself gasping, excessively shivering, or taking too long to warm up afterwards, it’s a sign you should reduce your session length 

5. Mindfulness

Focus on your breath to take your mind off the cold and to help you stay calm. Be conscious of what you can see, hear and smell.

6. Swot up

Sally Gunnell leaving an ice bath

Make sure you’re aware of the signs of hypothermia before you start using an ice bath. If your body temperature drops too low, you could start to feel weak or lose co-ordination. 

7. Warm up

After your ice bath, create a warm-up routine that raises your body temperature. Have a towel, bathrobe, and dry clothes ready to go. Ask your other half to get a cup of tea ready! 



How to set up your ice bath

1. Fill

Grab your garden hose, then fill the ice tub up with water until it covers your legs. This should take around 45 minutes in a standard ice bath with a built-in chiller. 

Filling up an ice bath with a hose

2. Get set

If you've got a chiller built into your plunge pool, plug it into a 13 amp plug socket, and set the temperature on the control panel. If yours is a basic ice tub, add ice until your reach a temperature of 10°C to 15°C.

    3. Dip!

    Your DIY bath will be ready to use straight away! If you've opted for an ice tub with chiller, it'll be the right temperature within a few hours.


    How to maintain and clean an ice bath

    Your ice bath maintenance routine will depend on the type of tub you have. We prefer the convenience and comfort of an ice bath with a built-in chiller. Without having to worry about buying ice packs, you can enjoy clean, chilled water no matter the temperature outside. 

    1. Sanitise

    If you opt for an ice tub with built-in chiller, it's important that you use sanitiser to chemically treat the water. Although the water is cold, bacteria can still be present, as cold temperatures only slow down their growth. Use sanitising tablets to keep the water pristine. Follow dosage recommendations, this is usually 1 tablet per week.

    2. Test

    Check your water regularly with hot tub testing strips, this will ensure you know when you to add more sanitiser, so it's safe to bathe in.

    3. Stir

    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.

    4. Drain & Refill

    For an ice bath with built-in chiller, change the water every 4-8 weeks, depending on how often you use it. Once the water doesn’t look clear, it's time to drain and refill. When you drain any type of ice bath, give it a clean with warm soapy water after. It's also best practise to keep a lid on while you do this, to stabilise temperature and prevent debris from getting in.

    5. Filter

    If your ice bath comes with a filter, this should be replaced every three months, and cleaned every 1-2 weeks, depending on how often you use it. We recommend using a specialist cartridge filter cleaner.

    6. Cover

    A cover will help maintain water temperature, prevent debris from getting in, and keeping kids and animals out. Give your ice bath cover a hose down every month, including the underside. 


    Ice bath safety FAQs: answering your brrrilliant questions

    How often should I take ice baths?

    Begin with 1-2 sessions per week, monitor your cold tolerance and cold plunge more or less frequently depending on your limit. 

    Is it ok to cold plunge every day?

    Absolutely! As long as you follow the ABC rule:

    • Avoid prolonged exposure
    • Be mindful of your body's signals
    • Consult with your doctor if you have medical concerns

    Is tap water cold enough for an ice bath?

    Woman in an ice bath

    Aim for an ice bath temperature of 10°C to 15°C, tap water is usually around 10°C to 20°C, so monitor the temperature and adjust accordingly.

    Is 5 degrees too cold for ice bath?

    It depends on your comfort level. 5°C is the lowest temperature you should cold plunge in. Start with a slightly higher temperature and gradually decrease it. Always listen to your body, and if you feel uncomfortable, it might be too cold for you.

    Can children use ice baths?

    No, ice baths are not recommended for children due to their sensitivity to temperature extremes.

    How do you chill water for an ice bath?

    If you're using a DIY ice bath, fill your tub with water, add bags of ice, and stir the ice to get a consistent temperature. Check the temperature with a thermometer, aim for around 10°C to 15°C, once the water gets cold enough, you're ready for your dip!

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