We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Need Ice Packs in a Pinch? Grab a Sponge!

Woman holding sponges on beige background, top view.
New Africa/Shutterstock.com

Ice packs are a great way to keep food cold outside the fridge, soothe inflammation or swelling from an injury, and more. But what if you keep leaving yours at the office or school, or you’ve run out, or otherwise don’t have one on hand when you need it?

What if we told you that you could make your own ice packs at home with nothing more than a sponge, some water, and a ziplock plastic bag?

Soak the sponge in water for a bit, put it in a small ziplock bag, and stick it in the freezer. That’s literally all there is to it. The water in the sponge will freeze into ice, giving you a makeshift ice pack you can throw in a lunchbox or cooler, or hold against an injured limb.

You can soak the sponge(s) in water for as long or short a time as you want, though the more water they absorb, the more effective they’ll be. Same deal with the amount of time the sponges spend in the freezer– the longer, the better. Freeze them overnight if possible.

Magic Gel Back Pain Relief Gel Ice Pack

That said, if you want a real ice pack that'll actually attach to your body, try this reusable one on for size.

The ziplock bag may seem like an unnecessary addition but once the ice in the sponge starts melting, you’ll be glad it’s there. Especially since you can throw the bag and its contents right back into the freezer when you get home. The sponge will reabsorb that same water and re-freeze with no extra soaking necessary– though you’ll want to add more water after a few weeks.

Sponges-as-ice packs are not only extremely easy to make and reusable but very inexpensive; dollar store sponges will work just fine. So, unlike many reusable ice packs, they can be replaced for cheap should you ever lose them.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and How-To Geek and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
LifeSavvy is focused on one thing: making your life outside of work even better. Want to know more?