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  • Writer's pictureJason Donnelly

So you want to build a DIY chest freezer ice bath?

What’s up, crazy? That’s you, you’re crazy for wanting to do this. That being said, I’m also crazy. Nice to meet you. Let’s talk about getting in a freezer full of ice water, shall we?

Step 1: GET IN A FEW…no, really. Look, if you ask a dozen cold bathers, they’re all going to tell you their “perfect” sized freezer. You NEED it to be 400 liters. You can’t live without it being 14 square feet… If you’re going to do this, go to stores that sell them. Get in. Make the joke about making sure a body fits in. Get arrested. See how you can talk yourself out of that one…

But seriously. Get in. Get comfy. Consider if you’re going to dunk your head. Consider if you want to move around or just do it and get it over with. The chest freezer I bought is too small. Does it work? Yes… am I comfortable in it? No.

Step 2: Procure This is the easiest step. You can do this two ways, first, go to the store and buy it OR get one used on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist or whatever. Again, find the type you want, the size you want, and make it happen. When you get it home, get some kind of padding underneath (I used kid’s foam padding) and remove the wheels. You don’t want it to have to work harder to stay up and when there’s water and your body in it, it’ll have to work harder.

Step 3: Sand it Now the hard work comes. I bought a Ryobi sander to make it a little easier for myself. But start sanding all the walls. For the primer and pond shield to stick, it must be rough. Also, wear some kind of mask so you don’t inhale nasty stuff.

Step 4: JB WATER WELD IT Look, you are welcome to use some marine silicone or waterproof hoozy whatzit, but if you want it to work and you want it to last, just use JB Water Weld. Period. It is the hardest part of the whole thing, but it is worth it because it will actually work. Get some blue nitrile gloves, a 100-pack should do it, and jam a good amount of JBWW in all the unsealed edges of your tub, including the top edge. Look at the pictures above, make sure you’ve really jammed it in there. Every time your JBWW gets sticky to your gloves and doesn’t seem to be working as well, put new gloves on. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. Also, does your freezer have a drain hole? Fill that up too. Trust me. You want it to be leakproof from the start. When they’re all filled up, let it sit for a few days.

Step 5: Prime it Next up, spray-paint that beast! DO. NOT. USE. RUSTOLEUM. Apparently, it fails and the next step doesn’t stick to it. Read that again. I did this next piece wrong on mine, so pay attention to the words and not the pictures. Prime the entire tub inside the whole way over the top and to the lip on the outside of the tub. I only primed mine to the inside edge.

Step 6: Pond Shield it Next up, you need Pond Shield. Don’t skimp on this, as you’ll be putting your body in this stuff every day. It needs to be safe for organic… aka, safe for fish and humans. Don’t just seal it with some stuff you’ve found that might be waterproof. You’re doing this for your health, don’t un-health yourself because you wanted the cheap way out.

My only recommendations for painting it are, to use a brush, and mix it in smaller sections. Aka, do not mix the two cans in your Pond Shield box together and just go at it in one big paint. You are creating a chemical mix and if you do it all at once, you’ll end up with a massive hard lump of Pond Shield in your mixing bucket (trust me).

Also, go for speed… mix the first 1/3 and once it’s mixed properly, paint as quickly as you can. Then mix the second, and paint as quickly as you can. Finally, mix the third and paint as quickly as you can. The stuff sets quickly, so you want to make sure it’s on the tub and not setting in your mixing bucket.

Personally, I didn’t mix in alcohol to mine, but you do what you think is right. I only put one layer on mine and it’s working like a champ.

Step 7: Wait It says you’re good to go in 48 hours, but be safe, wait a week, let it TRULY set.

Step 8: Fill it Fill it about halfway with water and wait. Is it leaking? ANYWHERE? No? Okay, wait a little longer.

Step 9: Inkbird time Has it sat for a day or two with water and not leaked? CONGRATULATIONS!

Turn’er on and get started. Connect your Inkbird to the power and your chest freezer to the Inkbird and input your settings. Here’s the video I used when I set mine up. I picked 3 degrees with 2 degrees on either side because I want it cold, but I don’t want it to freeze. I feel like that gives more opportunities for it to break or chip or have the pond shield crack off. I want to use it for years. But again, you do you.

Also, the Inkbird I’m linking to seems to be an upgraded version with a waterproof sensor, if you get the older version, make sure to put some JBWW around it, because it is NOT waterproof.

Step 10: Enjoy years of all-year ice baths! Let me see yours! As this was my first time, I’m sure I didn’t do it perfectly, I would have done a few things differently, but it’ll give you a pretty good idea of what you need to do to make it happen.

Find me on and let’s connect!

Stay cold…

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