Bag of Ice versus Osone Pro Water Chiller

Cold Plunging with Ice or a Water Chiller

Two popular methods that have emerged as go-to options for athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and individuals seeking relief from various ailments are ice and water chillers. In this article, we dive into the nuances of both to explore which might be the better option for your cold plunge solution. 


Ice is a traditional and easily accessible form of cold therapy. Typically, consisting of bags of ice from the local grocery store placed into a cold plunge to reduce water temperature.

ice box

Pros of Ice:

  1. Accessibility to Start: Bags of ice are available at most grocery stores and can be easily prepared at home with common household items like ice cube trays. 
  2. Cost and Volume: Ice can be a cost-effective solution for beginners interested in starting and understanding more about the benefits of cold plunge. The temperatures are much more tolerable and the costs are affordable upfront. 

Cons of Ice:

  1. Limited Duration: Ice has a limited duration of effectiveness. Ice starts melting as soon as it touches water. As water temperatures increase, the therapeutic benefits diminish. Ice requires frequent replacement to maintain consistent levels of cold therapy. Ice is also generally for one time use. 
  2. Messy Application: Whether in transit from the grocery store or sitting on the ground waiting to be used, as ice melts, it creates a wet mess. This can be a drawback when not used quickly or when cleanliness is a priority. 
  3. Cost and Volume: Over time, ice can become expensive based on the desired cold plunge temperature and the number of times associated with cold plunging. Lower temperatures and more frequent cold plunges require more ice.
  4. Convenience: Most home fridges do not stock enough ice required for cold plunging so you may find yourself making frequent visits to the grocery store. As the frequency increases, the drives to the store and hauling bags of ice home can become inconvenient and time consuming. 

Water Chiller

A cold plunge water chiller is an electronic device that cools water to desired temperatures typically ranging from 59°F down to extreme temperatures in the 30's. One advantage of a cold plunge chiller is that it can consistently hold desired temperatures as opposed to ice which is more easily influenced by ambient temperatures. Premium water chillers include bacteria killing mechanisms such as UV or Ozone. Over time, bacteria can start growing in water. If the water is not constantly being replaced with fresh water or cleaned with chemicals in between cold plunge sessions, a bacteria killing mechanism may be something to consider when purchasing a water chiller. Another benefit to a chiller is the ability to filter out debris such as hair, sand and other physical elements found in the water system.

Pro and Standard Chillers

Pros of Water Chiller:

  1. Uniform Temperature for Full Body Benefit: A chiller provides uniform water temperatures throughout for whole-body benefits whereas ice immediately floats to the top. The immersion of the entire body in cold water can induce a systemic response benefiting circulation, metabolism, and overall recovery.
  2. Convenience and Accessibility: A chiller can keep water at desired temperatures 24/7. The need to plan for ice is taken out of the equation and is a more convenient solution for those on a tight schedule. The convenience of an at-home chiller can also increase the likelihood of sticking with a routine and engaging in the discipline of cold plunging on a more frequent basis.
  3. Cleaner setup: Water chillers connect directly into a cold plunge. In comparison to ice, the mess is less. 

Cons of Water Chiller:

  1. Cost: The upfront cost of water chillers can generally range from $1000 and up depending on a number of factors: speed to desired cold plunging temperature, lowest temperature desired, bacteria killing mechanisms and noise level are a few to consider. 
  2. So many choices: Picking the right chiller can be complicated as there are many decisions to choose from: which horsepower is ideal for your setup, which bacteria killing system or solution, how many microns in your filter, does the hose material impact condensation, the list goes on and on. Make sure you do your research prior to the investment as in many cases, it is often a one time purchase.

Choosing the Right Method

The decision between ice or a water chiller depends on various factors, including individual preference, cost and convenience. Below is a recap to help make an informed choice:

  1. Full Body Immersion – Ice floats to the top leading to temperature variability  not only throughout the cold plunge but also during the length of time you are cold plunging. Water chillers control temperatures throughout benefiting full body immersion as well as timeframe. 
  2. Short term vs Long term Use – If you are new to cold plunge, start with ice. Studies show it takes 30 days for a routine to stick. After feeling the impact and benefits to your physical and mental well-being, you may decide to invest in a water chiller for convenience, sustainability and to continue the wellness routine. Starting one way and pivoting after gaining more knowledge and comfort is perfectly natural. 
  3. Convenience – Large amounts of ice require frequent trips to the grocery store. For those looking for a faster solution, an at home water chiller provides convenience and control.
  4. Cleanliness – This is a personal preference as those cold plunging outside where ambient temperatures may dry up excess water may not have as much of an issue whereas those cold plunging in areas where excessive water maybe undesirable may prefer a cleaner setup via a water chiller.
  5. Fresh Water - With ice, you will want to change your water every 3-5 uses. This can deter some as having to engage in a full setup process coupled with a trip to the grocery store can be time consuming. With a chiller, the water is not only temperature ready 24/7 but finding the right chiller can provide benefits such as water filtration to remove debris like dirts, sand, rust coupled with bacteria killing agents such as UV or Ozone. 

Ultimately, the choice between ice or a water Chiller should be based on individual circumstances and long term goals some of which may be convenience, cost and usage. Many experiment with both methods and tailor their cold therapy approach over time for optimal results. Whether it's the simplicity and accessibility of ice or the whole body benefits, convenience and cleanliness of a chiller, the therapeutic chill remains a valuable tool in the pursuit of recovery and well-being. 

1 comment

Best cold plunge option on a budget:

Components: 100 gallon agricultural tub, chest freezer, gallon buckets, sea salt, smallest size filtering system for an above ground pool.


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