DIY PVC Frozen Ice Containers For Emergencies

DIY PVC Frozen Ice Containers For Emergencies

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This is my DIY PVC frozen ice containers experiment that I wrote many years ago. I wanted to make these containers to be used similar to those blue ice units you put in your cooler or picnic basket to keep food items cool before you need them.

They also come in handy to keep food cold if you lose power in your fridge or freezer. My experiment making these was about 8 years ago, but I thought my new readers would enjoy reading it, so I decided to update the post.

DIY PVC Frozen Ice Containers For Emergencies

Cutting PVC

I went to Home Depot because they are close to my house and the staff is always cheerful to help cut my stuff. Home Depot told me they couldn’t cut the PVC with their regular chop saw, these had to be sawed by hand.

I have cut PVC at home with our chop saw but they have their rules and I totally get it, rules are rules. The employee just kept cutting by hand, although several contractors kept walking by and would tell the guy: “You can cut those with your chop saw a lot faster.”

We just laughed and talked while he used a saw to cut them by hand. I needed them 12 inches long. I bought a 10-foot PVC piece of pipe so there was no way I could take that home in my car. I love Home Depot!

Today I am going to compare the 12 inches by 2-inch PVC frozen containers to a plastic 16.9-ounce size water bottle. Now, I must note that I had to open the water bottle and drink part of the water so it would not expand and break in the freezer.

I measured the remaining water in the plastic water bottle. It had 1-3/4 cups of water in it with the lid screwed on tight. The 12 inches by 2-inch PVC tube I filled with 2-1/4 cups of water. I filled the 12 inches by 1-1/2 inch PVC tubes with 1-1/3 cups water.

PVC Frozen Ice Containers

Step 1: Cut The PVC Pipes

As you can see, I have two different sizes of PVC pipes with the caps that go with them. I had all of them cut into 12-inch lengths. The glue is clear, and to be honest with you I wouldn’t drink the water if I had to break these open.

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I’m sure some of the glue leaked inside the PVC tubes a little as I spread that little glue brush around. I wouldn’t waste the water if I had to empty them, I could use it for toilet flushing.

Cutting The PVC Pipes

Step 2: Clean The PVC Containers

The first thing you do is clean the PVC tubes as well as you can. They must be dry before you can glue the one end. My hubby is a real sport to help me when I come up with these projects!

Gluing Pipes

Step 3: Glue The PVC Tubes & Caps

The next step is to quickly apply the glue around the tube and the inside of the PVC caps. Then quickly put them together and make a 1/4 turn/twist and then press down for 15 seconds to hold the cap in place while the glue sets. Easy peasy! Be sure and have some paper towels or newspaper for drips, lots of drips.

Place the Lids On One End

Step 4: Let Dry for 24 Hours

I waited 24 hours for the caps to dry to make sure they wouldn’t leak. Here is where the measuring comes in. I realize I put the amounts of water to add in the dialogue above, but here they are again in plain sight:

12-inch by 2-inch tube = 2-1/4 cups water

12-inch by 1-1/2 inch tube = 1-1/3 cups water

Water Bottle 16.9 ounce = 1-3/4 cups water

Step 5: Fill With Water

Now here is the tricky part. You need two people to pour the water into the tube and then glue the caps on the ends. The PVC tubes move. Trust me, they move and spill doing it yourself. Just giving you the heads up.

DIY PVC Frozen Ice Containers For Emergencies

Step 6: Place Them in Your Freezer

Ask for help to fill and glue. Wait 24 hours to let the PVC dry and place them in your freezer.

Place PVC Tubes in Freezer

Why would I want to make these when I can purchase the blue “freeze pack” ice packs products?

I enjoy making things that will not only save me money, but I can design them to fit my needs. Whether you plan to use these in an ice chest, fishing creel, cooler, picnic basket, or another portable storage container, these work great. If traveling or on a camping trip, you can put them next to your medications, frozen foods, eggs, and food containers like glass containers and storage jars, the items are protected. They are also so strong you don’t have to worry about leakage when the PVC tube freezes.

Are there any health concerns I need to worry about with these ice containers?

The main issue I’d be concerned about is possible burns from the frozen ice containers. They aren’t as cold as dry ice of course, but they can stick to your fingers if you don’t use some precautions and common sense guidelines like using gloves. When it comes to providing proper refrigeration when on the move, these should be safe and easy to use.

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I also like the fact that they don’t contain any harmful ingredients or unwanted chemical like other products using a frozen gel pack. From a healthy use standpoint, you could use them to deal with sore or swollen muscles. You just need to put a towel or thin blanket between the ice container and your bare skin.

You can make them in various sizes and quantities that can come in handy when dealing with aches in your ankles, calves, or other parts of your body. When not in use, like when your freezer is too full, they’ll easily stack in a cheap storage container like cardboard boxes.

Final Word

Now my final results on which container would last longer in a power outage when used in your camping cooler, your fishing cooler, etc. The 12 inches by 2 inches PVC frozen tube stayed colder for about 3 hours longer than the other two. Obviously, it has more frozen water in it. The temperature where they’re being used will determine how long they take to thaw.

But the really cool thing, the PVC doesn’t sweat. Nope, it stayed dry sitting on my kitchen counter for the frozen/cold temperature experiment. I put the different-sized container tubes shown above in my freezer for a few hours. They are now ready to keep my perishables cold if they need to stay cold in an unforeseen disaster.

Now, if you had children with school lunch boxes or someone who takes a lunchbox to work, you could cut these smaller and fit any size lunch box. You can cut them to fit your exact cooler. WooHoo!

Put the fish you catch under these and they will stay cold out of the water in your cooler or creel until you get home. These stay strong long after the regular water bottles freeze, crack and leak. WooHoo! May God bless this world, Linda

Frank’s Idea

“Unless you ever plan to break or drill into these containers, there isn’t much reason to worry about the water’s purity. If you wanted to spend a few dollars more, you could use a threaded cap and the adapter thus making them into both a canteen and a freezer pack. I’d replace the water every six months as recommended for stored water.

Just as when using the PVC for plumbing, you’d allow the glue to dry thoroughly and then I’d give each container a wash with soapy water since we can’t just run water through them as if they were delivering water to a faucet. So, I would glue, let dry, and wash quickly and they’d be ready to use once you dry them off – at least the outside and the threads.”

Of course, as mentioned above, there’s nothing wrong with washing the cut PVC pieces in soapy water and rinsing them off before starting the water-filling and gluing process. The water is in an airtight environment so it shouldn’t deteriorate over time with things like mold. But if you have concerns, you could filter the water, boil it, or use halogen tablets for purification.

Thank you, Home Depot for cutting my PVC!

Survival Food Storage by Linda

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  1. As a retired General Contractor and Building Inspector, as Jon said PVC is safe to use for distribution of potable water, it’s approved by the UPC and UBC!

    1. If you are going to glue both ends, add 2 tablespoons of salt to water. It will freeze at a lower temperature and stay frozen longer

      1. Great idea! Even if you are freezing water in a soda bottle, that would work too! I’m also thinking that using 4 or 6″ PVC would be great in shorter lengths for maintaining in a freezer to keep it “full”. I live in hurricane country and hate to lose everything in my freezer. Using these to keep the freezer filled and then don’t open it, I think I could get past the 3 days, maybe up to a week without everything thawing.

  2. Great idea Linda, the bonus is they don`t sweat, i have used the freeze packs and similar things in my coolers and everything gets soggy from the cold packs sweating, another great idea from Linda`s magic cupboard, thanks..

    1. You are one smart cookie!!! I would never have thought of something like this. I’ve used my storage containers in the freezer for food and had them crack om me. Anyway, if/when I get the chest freezer it want, I’ll be doing this trick for ‘just in case’ scenario. THANKS!!!

  3. While this might work well, it could turn into an embarrassing and expensive situation should one get left unattended in a public place. This looks for all the world like a pipe bomb! You might wind up answering a lot of tough questions from the FBI, ATF, and your local Bomb Squad!

  4. If you fill n freeze, as the water freezes it expands, most plumbing (except for a pipe called ‘clear-core) usually splits or bursts. What keeps the pipe from busting?

    2nd question- How do you get the final cap all the way on? Water doesn’t compress and it’s a sealed container. It just seems like you’d have to put a lot of pressure on that final cap to compress the air trapped inside and seat the fitting.

    Been looking for a way to save and reuse plastic bag freezer packs that come in shipping. Those bags are too flimsy to trust using over n over before it gets a hole poked in it and the freezer gel leaks out in the cooler…

  5. Even though we could use dollar store containers, the PVC pipes lay flat in the bottom of a cooler and keep your perishables above any water that collects in the bottom from melted ice or leaky bottles.
    Like you said they can be sized perfectly for width or length.

  6. I purchased some jerky in a really tough container. I washed them really well (I have 6) and when I am getting ready to go camping, I freeze them with water that has been filtered already so the water is still drinkable in a pinch. I do know that reusing plastic containers is not ideal but they fit well in my cooler and I have 3 baskets that fit on top of them, keeping them off the bottom. I have been on a 10 day camping trip and I think they were finally completely thawed by day 8 but still kept things very chilled. By day 8, I didn’t have any fresh meat or perishable that I worried about. Then again, by day 6, I was also replenishing the cold with bags of ice. Right now this works for me so I am not going to go to the expense of making the “pipe *omb” ice packs!!! Perhaps I will in a year or so, though.

    1. Hi Leanne, what you’re doing is working, why change? I used to fill plastic containers, they work awesome. Plus it sounds like they fit perfectly in your cooler. Camping is so fun!! Linda

  7. I have found that simply filling plastic soda bottles and squeezing them a bit before sealing the cap and freezing them works well. You can use any of the various sizes up to 2L and they fit well in coolers designed for cans, etc. Not to mention they are FREE!

    1. Hi Kay, the length of time they would stay frozen depends on the quality of the cooler you are using. Some are more insulated than others and therefore would melt sooner. They last quite a long time but here again it’s all about the unit you are keeping them in. Linda

  8. Great idea! I am building a new house. Got lots of pieces of short length PVC hanging around. I also get meals from Factor that come with freezable gel packs. They are semi liquid when thawed but really take a long time to thaw. Soooo . . . I am going to save these and reuse the gel in my pipes. I get 3 of these storage packs every week so it shouldn’t take long to make mine up!
    I am getting a new 15 cu ft freezer (chest) and for one person, it takes awhile to fill it up. Plus, a full freezer doesn’t use as much electricity. When I had a freezer previously, I would fill milk jugs with water to help fill the space. May still do some of that but I like this idea better since I can make them any size.

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