DIY PVC Frozen Ice Containers For Emergencies
This is my DIY PVC frozen ice containers experiment that I just finished. 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 eat them.
They also come in handy to keep food cold if you lose power to your fridge or freezer. My experiment making these was about 5 years ago, but I thought my new readers would enjoy reading it.
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 could not 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 sawed 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
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 12 inches. The glue is clear, and to be honest with you I would not drink the water if I had to break these open.
I’m sure some of the glue leaked inside the PVC tubes a little as I spread that little glue brush around. I would not waste the water, I could use it for toilet flushing.
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!
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. Easy peasy! Be sure and have some paper towels or newspaper for drips, lots of drips.
Let Dry 24 Hours
I waited 24 hours for the caps to dry to make sure they would not 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
Fill With Water
Now here is the tricky part. You need two people to fill the water and 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. Ask for help to fill and glue. Wait 24 hours to let the PVC dry and place in your freezer.
Now my final results on which container would last longer in a power outage, 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.
But the really cool thing, the PVC will not 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 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! Whatever you do, make sure you check for frozen pipes in the winter months!
Put the fish you catch under these and they will stay cold and out of the water 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 (awesome reader) 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, one 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, wash quickly and they’d be ready to use once you dry them off – at least the outside and the threads.
Thank you, Home Depot for cutting my PVC!
21 thoughts on “DIY PVC Frozen Ice Containers For Emergencies”
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!
Hi Ivan, thank you so much! I love hearing this. Linda
There is no reason you couldn’t filter and drink that water in an emergency.
Hi Matt, I totally agree we could filter the water. Linda
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
Thank You what a great idea will last a lifetime
Hi Wendy, they really will last a lifetime! Linda
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..
Hi Hearl, my magic cupboard, I Love it! Linda
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!
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…
Hi Bruce, I left enough room for the water to freeze and expand. They are over 5 years old and have never cracked yet. Linda
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.
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.
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
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!
Hi Kenneth, FREE does work!! Great reminder, thank you so much! Linda
i had thought the same thing.but a great idea thanks
Hi Debbie, thank you, Linda
How long would you say they stay frozen?
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