Chest Freezer Ice Bathing

I still want to write a post about the WHM Advanced Module itself (not just what I learned from it), but I’m too excited about my new chest freezer.

Someone in LA mentioned doing this and I instantly got excited about it, because I’ve found it to be a remarkable burden to do a real ice bath otherwise.  It’s time and money to go out and buy ice for $0.25/lb, then filling and draining the bath tub is a massive waste of time and water just for one bath.   Now, I have a chest freezer that I can fit in comfortably, and can be 32-40F all the time.

IMPORTANT:  Always unplug the chest freezer before getting in, even with all the other components discussed here!


Whirlpool chest freezer for always-available ice bathing!  (14.8 cu.ft)


The only thing I have left to do at this point is get a couple wooden steps and some kind of mat where I can do a horse stance and dry off when I get out.

I wanted to document what I’ve done here for anyone else who is thinking about doing this.  And I do highly recommend it!

Picking a Chest Freezer

Doing some research, I determined that 10-12 cu ft was probably big enough for someone of my size (about 5’11”, 185 lbs).  But I didn’t want to risk getting something too small, and I’ll never complain about having extra space to stretch out.  The one I picked is approximately 15 cubic feet, and I will admit it’s pretty spacious.

I checked craigslist, but only found one person within 20 mi who had a chest freezer in the 10-18 cu ft  range, and they never responded to me so I assume they already sold it.  Admittedly, that would’ve been the best way, but there just wasn’t a selection near me.  So instead I had to buy something new.  So I prepared for my normal large appliance battle:

I picked out this one from a Lowes near me:

Next, I got onto Ebay, and bought a 10% coupon for Lowes for $5, the ones that are usually given to new home-owners who likely need to buy lots of new stuff, but primarily end up being sold on Ebay.

Then I purchased a Lowes gift card from Ebay.  In my case, I was able to get a gift card with $200 remaining for about $170.  In both cases, the seller was able to email me the codes right away to use for an online purchase.

Finally, I went to the Lowes website from my wife’s ebates account, which gets another couple percent off the purchase.  My $400 chest freezer ended up being closer to $320 + tax.  I think it said there was free delivery, too, but I was too anxious, and a neighbor with a pickup truck went with me to go pick it up the next day.

Accessories to Buy

So there’s a couple other things you will want in order to setup your freezer:

  • I used a small tube of 100% Silicone Caulk to seal all the seams on the inside of the freezer.  I did this before I went to bed (before turning on the freezer), to be sure that it was properly sealed.  It’s probably already factory sealed, but it wasn’t terribly expensive or difficult to do for my own peace of mind.
  • I got an outlet timer to manage the duty cycle of the freezer.  The freezer claims to operate at -10F to +10F, which means that if it were to be on all the time I’d end up with a giant block of ice.   On the WHM facebook group, someone said that running it only a couple hours per day is enough to keep it at 32F.  I set mine up for 2am-5am every day.  I’ll be experimenting with more or less time depending on how much ice buildup there is.
  • Although you really should unplug it before getting in, I wanted extra protection in case I forget.  So I purchased a GCFI outlet adapter.  The whole point of the GFCI is to detect when there’s a ground fault (which is what happens when you drop a plugged-in extension cord into water) and then cuts the power.  US building code requires having built-in GFCI wall outlets within a certain distance of kitchen sinks, bathtubs, etc.   After talking to an electrician friend about it, he said that the “Test” button on these outlets is actually creating a ground fault and should trigger the shut-off.  I could’ve guessed that was what it does, but I rarely trust something that seems so easy!  (UPDATE:  I went to plug in my new GFCI adapter and realized that the wall outlet is already GFCI.   Whoops.)


Cooling Down the Water

After sealing the seams, I filled up the freezer about 80% using a garden hose, unfortunately, the water from the hose was close to 70F so the freezer had a lot of work to do to get it down to freezing.  After waiting 8 hours it had only dropped to like 61-62F and the sides of the freezer were really hot.   It then occurred to me to do a calculation:



So we’re looking at about 28.5 mega-joules to heat all the water.  In the US, we have wall outlets that max out at 1,800 W, though the one thing I remembered from thermodynamics was that maximum theoretical refrigerator efficiency is 21.9%.  Knowing that the conversion from wall energy into the compressor energy, and transferring it to the water itself was going to be significantly less than that.  I assumed about 12%, though I suspect even that is optimistic:


So, I was looking at about 1.5 days to get this thing cool, which kind fit my observation.   However,  given how hot it got from just 8 hours of work, I was worried about burning out the electronics.  So I sucked it up and went to the store and got nine, 8lb bags of ice.  The first five bags melted pretty quickly which brought the temperature down from about 61 F to 50 F.  The rest of it got it near 40 F.  At this point, I turned off the freezer and let it take a break for the night.  Today I plugged it in for about 4 hours and it’s now down below 40 F, with ice starting to form around the edges.  Even if it’s not exactly 32, I’m perfectly content with 35-38 F.


Freezer runs 3 hrs/day, keeps it around 36F with a little bit of ice build up around the edges.

On that note, while my previous posts showed measurements of ~37 F in my bathtub, those were surface temperatures with ice still floating.  I tried to stir it up before those measurements, but I suspect the average temperate was a bit higher.  I make that conclusion after taking a real ice bath at the course in LA, and it was brutal.  They had a full 3 inches of ice floating on the surface of the pool, so it was definitely ~32 F.  And I was  caught off-guard by how much shock and discomfort there was even after all my experience.   I did the two minutes that was prescribed but I’m not sure I could’ve done a lot more (probably 4-5 min).   I even got an afterdrop and started shivering a few minutes after I got out (I can’t even remember the last time I shivered!).


I’ve only done two soaks in this thing so far, but both have been heavenly.   Not only is it brutally cold, it is so without floating ice which I find somewhat distracting.  This feels like “pure” cold pressure.  I am constantly reminded just how cold ice really is.  But that is a good thing, since we learned in the course that part of the cold exercises is to find intense focus and produce a strong stress response from your body.

Overall, if you are serious about Hoffing, this is a wonderful investment of time and money!  Highly recommended!

P.S. Here’s a joke I learned in the course:  What do you call it when multiple people take an ice bath at the same time?   Synchronized Wimming!



23 thoughts on “Chest Freezer Ice Bathing

  1. Does your chest freezers drain plug hold water safely? Mine doesnt, so I used water proof thread with special lubricant and it hold 99,5% water.
    It leaks around 10mm in 10hours – so not perfect in the long run. Any advice perhaps?


    • I got lucky. The drain plug on mine works flawlessly. I was scared I’d have to engineer something to fix it, but the top of the cap is super wide and I guess it gets pressed hard into the drain from the water pressure.


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  3. I just bought a deep freezer too. But I made the mistake of buying one that is too small. I will use it for awhile and then buy a bigger one. The sides of my hips touch the walls. I am able to squat down so the water is above my belly, but tad below my chest. I bought a device to measures the temperature of the water and keeps it between two set points. It is working great keep the water at 40 degrees. I set it to 33 degrees, but ice formed on the sides and I wouldn’t fit. So I am bumped it up to 40 degrees and will lower it slowly to see how far I can go before the ice forms on the sides again. I sealed the seams with silicone too. I am using an infrared sauna for 20 minutes in the morning, then hitting the cold deep freeze tank. I am only doing a minute right now, but will slowly build up to several minutes. I am also hitting the tub before bed. Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Body book got me interested in cold water therapy.


    • Good stuff @theyarealreadyamoungus. I like the temperature controller you found on Amazon. I’ve saved it to my wishlist, as I’m don’t think I need it for this, but I know I’ll need it for something at some point in my life :).

      I am due for a follow-up post on my chest freezer, but I’ll summarize a couple things I was planning to say there. First, I already raised the temperature of mine to 41-44 F. I was both tired of ice build-up, and 41-44 feels the same to my body as 35 but without such intense burning in the hands and feet. I figured the intense burning might be a “challenge” to overcome, but I just find it easier to relax and focus in 41-44 F and still get the energy and heat afterwads. I was doing about 4min/day at 35F, and now do about 5min/day at 40-45F. (though I’ve been busy and not getting to it everyday). Also, after spending some time with my timer, I’ve found that I can have it run for 2-2.5 hours in the middle of the night and its temperature stays pretty constant. I like the temp controller idea, but I now that the timer is on a good cycle I don’t have a reason to change. OTOH, I had wanted to build a temperature-controlled enclosure for my 3d printer perhaps using a space heater… this seems like it would fit the bill. But I’d need to build the enclosure, first.


      • I’m ready to get a freezer and was thinking of getting the same one but the specs say there is a light inside the freezer. How does this not cause issues?


      • I’m not sure I understand the question. Whenever I use the freezer to sit in it, the power is off, usually because I unplugged it. If I forgot to unplug it’s still off because the outlet timer keeps it off except for 2am-4:30am every morning. I rarely see the light.


      • Well I’ve never seen a light in a chest freezer but it would seem water would cause problems with an electrical circuit.


      • You can add salt to the water to help keep it from freezing as much. Adding salt lowers the freezing point of the water. Get magnesium salt, and it is great for your body to absorb.

        A bag of the salt for sensory deprivation tanks would be ideal to have around. I just got a freezer for free and will set it up this weekend, and will also get some salt from a float tank place where I live.


  4. Alan thank you for putting your project and experience of your process into prose. Efforts appreciated and admired.

    I’ve been looking to do a very similar type of thing, though my premise (whilst partial to what little I know of the WIM HOF methods) is based more on sports science for ice recovery to reduce inflammation and increase healing from bouts of random physical movements at high-intensity (i.e. sports). Home cold recovery units aren’t cheap so I’m looking for an alternative on a more modest/ student budget.

    Sports science recommendations for cold hydrotherapy advise 8-12 deg Celsius (45 – 55 Fahrenheit) for approx 10-15 minutes maximum as the optimum parameters. From what I gather WIM HOF is usually under 5 mins for submersion and quite a few degrees colder, as you write.

    Based on all this and your endeavors I have two questions:

    1) Not sure I saw which part of the US you are in but I’m in Melbourne Australia so it’s quite possible we’re in somewhat different climates and I’m trying to get a clearer idea of temperature ranges you have measured so I can use that to help decide if I need to adjust/ change the internal thermostat or I can get away with cooling for less time to achieve the temperature range I desire. My question simply, is- have you measured the water temp before the 2.5 the chest freezer is powered on for cooling? If so where does it range?

    2) I concern about keeping the water sanitary. How often do you change the water? If not often have you considered this and what have you done to manage sanitation? Whilst I expect to shower before use and it should go without saying I no one would intend to treat such a process like the local kiddie-pool, for myself, I think I may want to at least be aware of pH levels if not changing the water often.


    Nick, Melbourne Australia.


    • Hey Nick,

      Try to get direct sunlight on the water for 30 mins a day. Look up Matt Blackburn (Divine Superconductor TV) on youtube and he goes through all the steps above too.

      Great blog by the way!


    • In general, WHM encourages daily 10 minute cold showers, which are typically in the range you mentioned for temp and exposure (warmer in the summer, unfortunately, which was part of my motivation for getting the chest freezer). I have tended to lean towards lower temperatures with lower exposure times, as a matter of experimentation and conditioning, but I had been planning to write a follow up post that I changed my preference to keeping the tub at 41-45 F and doing 5-10 minutes. I do that multiple times per week now and much prefer it. 45-55 F and 10-15 min would also be good, but I don’t want to sit around twiddling my thumbs that long 🙂

      I haven’t actively monitored the water before and after the 2.5 hours it is on. But I have estimated that the tub cools about 1 F for every hour it is on (so I’m restoring 2.5 F with 2.5 hr being on). This matches my observation that if I accidentally leave it unplugged for a couple days, it’ll be 5-7 warmer. So far, all observations have been in my garage and this whole thing started this summer when it’s been super hot in the garage, probably like being outside (in the shade).

      The sanitation part has evaded me. I have been undecided how to deal with it, and I have been meaning to do more research on chemicals used in commercial cold tubs. My water is untreated, and I have been changing the water about every 3 weeks, using it 4-5 times per week. At a minimum, dirt from my feet walking to the tub and various pieces of lint gets in it and reminds me why it’s nice to have circulation and filtration in a real tub/pool. When I do change the water, I clean the insides with a soft cleaning agent and rags before refilling. I’m not too worried about things growing in it, since it is essentially a refrigerator, but that was more applicable at 35F, not 41-55F. I would like to do something (more than nothing) I just haven’t put in the time to figure out what. Recommendations welcome!


  5. Nice write up!

    i was at the Master Class in LA- we may have spoken about my Chest Freezer?

    only difference i notice is that it takes quite a bit of solid ice formed for my tub to actually be at 35f- are you fully agitating the water before you take the temperature? its always quite a bit colder at the surface.

    after over a year of constant use mine is slowing down in terms of how quick it gets cold.. from 36hrs to more like 48.. still holds temp quite well once it gets there..

    keep it up!



    • I actually use one of the baskets that came with the freezer to agitate the water before I measure. It’s perfect to submerge and pull from one side to the other. However I was bothered by the ice build-up and the intensity of the burning in my hands so I keep it around 42F now. Both problems solved, I just spend a little more time in it. 5-10 min instead of 4-6


  6. I am very interested in doing this. I am getting tired of hauling ice to the tub. I know this might sound strange but I have not seen anyone mention it yet. Are you afraid of the door closing on you? I have a fear of getting trapped in it. Also any update on how you clean it. I have heard of people using pond pumps but not sure ? Thanks


    • A few comments…

      First – Alan, thanks for this blog. I’m looking forward to reading your other posts.

      I did Wim’s 2-day course in Austin, Texas about 3 years ago and it is nearly impossible to find water around here that is cold enough.

      I have the 15 cu. ft. Whirlpool chest freezer and have been overcoming a number of issues via trial and error.

      To answer a two questions above:
      1. The light is mounted on the inside of the lid. It’s a good reminder… if it’s on… UNPLUG it before you get in!

      2. The hinges on the lid are VERY sturdy. Once the lid is in the full open position, it will not close unless someone pushed on it. The lid does requires a special (but simple) key to lock. I don’t think it is very likely, even if the hinges failed, that the lid could close and lock you inside.

      Other Info
      1. I started using the freezer without sealing the seams inside. It started rusting within the week. I used JB Water weld to seal the seams (the silicone caulk mentioned above is probably just fine and would be WAY easier and faster than mixing the JB weld).

      However I was still paranoid about the rust and went overboard by using a waterproof tape over the JB Weld. I should have tested first, because the glue on the tape is creating a really bad chemical odor in my water.

      So.. from my trial and error… do NOT use waterproof tape to seal the seams!!

      I could not get the tape to peel off, so I had a vinyl liner custom made to fit the chest freezer.

      2. I have also been working on solving the water sanitation / quality problem. I started with a simple aquarium pump & filter, to circulate the water but still had problems with turbidity.

      I bought an ozone generator meant for hot tubs to put inline with the aquarium pump, but discovered that the pump did not have enough pressure for the ozone injector to work correctly.

      I have since purchased a pump and filter meant for hot tubs, but am now sorting out how to plumb the whole thing. The smaller circulation pumps do not prime very well, and since you can’t drill holes in the sides of the chest freezer without risk of breaking one of the coolant lines, you have to go through the top or over and down the walls. This puts air in the lines.

      There are auto-priming pumps but they are made for swimming pools with thousands of gallons and would be a total overkill for for the 50-60 gallons of water in the chest freezer and probably create raging rapids inside.

      I’m trying to figure out now how I can run the plumbing through the bottom of the chest freezer
      – without drilling through a structural support, and
      – making a water tight seal around the vinyl liner.

      This has been work in progress, and the down time has been huge due to other commitments. I wish I had found this blog before making my original purchase… I could have saved a lot of time, money and headaches!!

      QUESTION: Is the forum you mentioned only for people who have taken the online course or can other Hoffers sign up?


  7. As for sanitation, I have experimented with Epsom salt, which will both make the water feel colder and keep stuff from growing. I’ve gone months with my outside tub before green stuff starts forming. You could also try actual salt to keep ice from forming on the sides as quickly.



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