How Much Ice is Needed For an Ice Bath

Hey there! If you're considering taking the plunge into the world of ice baths, you might be wondering how much ice you'll need to get the job done.

Don't worry, it's not rocket science, and a rough estimate is more than enough.

In this super short article, we will explore the importance of determining the appropriate amount of ice needed for an ice bath, so you know exactly how many bags of ice to buy (or make!).

As always—no bluff, no BS, let's dive straight to the point:

Simply calculate a 1:3 ice-to-water ratio. For every gallon of water, make sure to add a gallon (or 7.7 pounds) of ice.

Yes. That's basically all you need to know.

And you don't even need to do the math yourself. Just use the calculator I've built:


Ice Calculator for Ice Bath



Now, if you're interested in learning a little bit more in order to understand what sort of things can affect the temperature of the water, then keep reading!

When it comes to ice baths, the ice-to-water ratio and the initial temperature of the water play a significant role in optimizing the benefits. By finding the right balance and considering various factors—such as the number of bags of ice and the initial water temperature—you will most certainly be able to achieve the perfect ice bath!

Factors Influencing How Much Many Pounds of Ice You Need

When preparing for an ice bath, it's important to consider a series of factors that can influence the optimal ice quantity for your ice bath

1. Starting Temperature of the Water

The temperature of the water you begin with will obviously affect how much ice you need. If you're using cold tap water (around 50-60°F or 10-15°C), you'll need less ice compared to using warm or room temperature water. Warmer water will require more ice to achieve your desired cold temperatures.

2. Outside Temperature

Air temperature is undoubtedly another factor to keep in mind. On hot summer days, you'll need more ice as the air will heat up the water faster, whereas a cold winter day will require less ice, if any.

3. Desired Water Temperature

What's your target temperature? The temperature you want for your ice bath is probably the single most important factor in determining how much ice to buy. Generally speaking, you should aim for your ice bath to be in between 35-50°F (2-10°C). The lower the temperature you want, the more ice cubes you'll need!

A pro tip we that often gets overlooked: larger ice cubes have a greater surface area, which allows for faster melting. This means that smaller ice cubes are more efficient in maintaining a consistent temperature for an extended period of time.

4. Desired Ice Bath Duration

This one is obvious too, but the duration of your ice bath is another crucial factor to consider when determining the amount of ice required. If you're planning to stay for an extended period (any brave souls out there?), or if multiple people will be using it, then you will likely need more ice to keep the water at a desirable temperature. For shorter durations, less ice may just be enough.

Keep in mind that our core body temperature will slightly heat the water, so usage time is important. So if you're planning on inviting the whole football team over, make sure you have plenty of ice!

Ice-to-Water Ratio

As stated above, a simple rule of thumb is to use a 1:3 ratio of ice to water. For instance, for every 3 gallons of water in your tub, make sure to have a gallon (or 7.7 pounds) of ice.

While this ice-to-water ratio will almost certainly work in most situations, feel free to adjust it to your particular needs. As discussed earlier, if it's too hot outside or if you're multiple people, then it's best to add a bit more ice. In contrast, if the ambient temperature is cold, then less ice will be ok in order to reach your sweet spot.

Here's a quick guide for your reference:

Volume of Water (gallons) Ice Needed (lbs)
60 154
80 205
90 231
100 257
110 282
120 308

Remember, these are approximate values based on the 1:3 ice-to-water ratio. You may need to adjust the amount of ice slightly depending on the starting water temperature and your desired final temperature.


Whenever I don't use a water chiller (which is obviously my favorite choice since I have one at home), I simply follow the 1:3 rule for the ice-to-water ratio. This is normally when I'm traveling—which is quite often!

Over the years, I've learned not to be too bothered about the final temperature of my cold plunge tub. If my goal is to recover from intense workouts, a temperature of around 45-46°F (7-8°C) is totally fine, and that's easily achievable with a few bags of ice and 60°F (15°C) tap water.

When I'm doing a cold bath for the general potential benefits and to challenge myself in the morning, temperatures of 50°F (10°C), 55°F (13°C), or even 60°F (15°C) will do the job. I understand that we often aim for the cold water to be really cold... but it doesn't have to be THAT cold EVERY single time.

And when I want to push myself a little bit more, I'll just add an extra bag or two of ice beyond what my 1:3 calculation suggests.

In my opinion, consistency is more important than always pushing yourself to the extreme.


And there you have it! Now you know how to prepare an effective ice bath with the right amount of ice. Remember to use the 1:3 ice-to-water ratio as a starting point and adjust as needed based on the factors we discussed. With these tips, you'll be able to enjoy all the cold plunge health benefits and take your cold therapy to the next level.