How much ice do you need for a cold plunge? A simple formula (+ a calculator!)

Joey Randazzo

Published: Oct 13, 2023

Last Updated:

Yeah, we built a cold plunge ice calculator. Scroll down to use it.

Ice is f***ing expensive. Not only that, the price depends on the store you go to.

I even went to a bunch of stores where I live to compare pricing and woah, very different. You can watch that video below.

You’re probably asking this question for a few reasons:

  1. You don’t want to spend more than you need to
  2. You don’t want to waste ice - lots of energy and plastic involved in the process
  3. Ice is heavy and hard to transport, so knowing exactly how much you need makes the logistical process easier

In this article, we’ll share exactly how much ice you need to have a proper, cold ice bath.

Quick Summary How Much Ice You Need for a Cold Plunge

The summary is pretty easy. Either….

1. Do some basic math:

  • 50 lbs of ice for the first person
  • 15 lbs of ice per person after that

2. Scroll down and use the calculator that we built below

You don’t want all the ice to melt during your plunge

Back in my early days of doing cold plunges, I underbought on the ice.

So by the time I was a minute or 2 into a cold plunge, all the ice would be melted.

Don’t get me wrong, the water was still chilly, but it wasn’t cold.

You don’t want to make this mistake!

Cold Plunge Ice Calculator

Cold Plunge Ice Calculator

How We Came Up With The Formula for How Much Ice to Use For Your Cold Plunge

If you hate math, then just assume the following for a rough estimate:

  • 50 lbs of ice for the first person
  • 15 lbs of ice per person after that

So if you are going to have 5 people do a cold plunge, then you’d do 50 + 15 + 15 + 15 +15 = 110 lbs of ice.

There are a few parts to this formula!

1. How many people will be doing the cold plunge

2. The water temperature

3. The air temperature and sun exposure

4. How big your tub is

Step 1: Start with people

First person = 50 lbs of ice

Each additional person = 15 lbs of ice

Step 2: Think about water temperature

If your water comes out cold, don’t add or subtract any ice.

If your water comes out lukewarm or warm (maybe you live in Miami), then add 10 lbs per person.

Step 3: Think about tub size

If your tub is relatively average sized, then don’t add or subtract any ice.

If you have a massive tub (aka 2 people or more can fit in it) then add 5 lbs of ice per person.

Step 4: Think about air temperature and direct sun exposure

This is really only important if you’re doing a plunge outside.

Basically, if you’re doing a cold plunge in Las Vegas in the summer, directly in the sun, then the ice is going to melt faster.

If you’re in direct sunlight and the outside temperature is higher than 80F degrees, then add 5 lbs of ice per person.

Example case:

Let’s say 4 people are doing an ice bath in Phoenix, AZ in a normal sized tub outside in late fall (temperature lower than 85F outside).

Here’s what we’d do:

  • Step 1: 4 people = 50lbs (for the first person) + 15 lbs + 15 lbs + 15 lbs = 95 lbs
  • Step 2: Water temperature = warm since it’s in Arizona. So we add 10 lbs per person… 95lbs + 40lbs = 135lbs
  • Step 3: tub size = average, so we don’t add or subtract anything so it still = 135 lbs
  • Step 4: outside air temperature is less than 85F so it’s still = 135 lbs

How Much Ice I Use for My Cold Plunge

I’m 6’2” and 180 lbs. I have a pretty decent sized bathtub in my bathroom. 

If you watch the YouTube video at the beginning of this article, you can get a hunch for how big it is.

I use 50 lbs of ice (5 bags at 10 lbs each) for my ice baths.I buy from Fred Meyer and it’s $2.50 per ice bag (so $12.50 per ice bath).

Here’s the process (and specifically how much ice is left over at the end):

  • I turn on the tub water (cold)
    - I live in Portland, OR so the water comes out pretty cold! This is important - if the water comes out cold, your ice won’t melt as fast.
  • I fill it up to the desired amount
  • I drive to the store and by 50 lbs of ice
  • I come home and set the ice next to the tub
  • I do 10 minutes of Wim Hof breathing
  • I pour all 50 lbs of ice into the tub and immediately get in!
  • I do a 5-7 minute ice bath
  • By the end of my ice bath, there’s still some ice floating around on the top of the water, but not a ton
  • By the time all the water drains, there are some ice chunks still in the tub
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