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How Cold Should an Ice Bath Be?

If you've ever wanted to clear your mind while enjoying physical benefits, then ice baths are perfect for you. There's a good chance you have some idea what these are, as they're trending on social media.

However, ice baths aren't anything new. They date as far back as 3,500 BC in the medical text called Edwin Smith Papyrus. It's clear that there are tangible benefits, but you can't just fill a tub with ice and water, then jump straight in it.

So how cold should an ice bath be? We'll give you the answer here, as well as other pertinent information for having the best icy experience possible.

best temperature for ice bath
Wondering the best temperature for an ice bath? Read on!

How Cold Should an Ice Bath Be?

There's no single right answer here since like in many other aspects of life, the answer depends on you as an individual. However, the best temperature for an ice bath is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Why 60°F? When you start shivering, it activates brown fat, which burns extra calories, produces and stores energy, and helps control your blood sugar and insulin levels. This self-induced hypothermia also has a psychological effect in building resistance and relieving mental health symptoms.

This temperature has other benefits, such as:

  • Reducing inflammation

  • Inducing vasoconstriction

Regular users go down to between 40-50°F, but we recommend starting with a higher temperature first, then lowering it slowly as you adjust to the coldness. Below are some of the factors you need to take into consideration when determining what ice bath temperature to use.

Your Current Health

Those who are in excellent health will be able to tolerate colder ice baths. Otherwise, it may be hazardous to go straight into the coldest one you can find.

For example, if you have Raynaud's disease or are currently pregnant, you'll need to check with your doctor before trying an ice bath. Overall, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor beforehand anyway, as they'll be able to advise you on the best and safest way to go about ice baths.

Your Personal Tolerance for Cold

Are you often cold and shivering, and you need to pile on clothes to feel warm? Do you find the cold unpleasant and do anything to stay warm? Then you probably don't have a very high cold tolerance.

The higher your cold tolerance, the lower (the temperature) you can go. Once again, it's optimal to start with a higher temperature, then add ice to slowly lower the temperature and see how much you can tolerate.

Your Personal Goals

In the gym, the exercises you do will depend on what you're hoping to achieve. The same goes for ice baths.

These plunges are terrific for reducing inflammation. So if you're aiming to reduce your recovery time in the gym, go for colder temperatures such as 50-60°F.

Are you focusing more on the mental aspect rather than the physical? Then a higher temperature range of 60-70°F can work, especially if your goal is to just relax and improve your mental health.

optimal cold plunge temperature
The optimal cold plunge temperature should be lower than 60F

Is There Such a Thing as "Too Cold"?

There is definitely such a thing as "too cold" for ice baths although in general, ice baths are safe. But it isn't a static temperature you should watch out for in terms of danger.

Instead, evaluate your entire session to determine if the situation has become risky. For instance, your ice bath may be on the higher side for temps, but if you sit in it for an hour, you'll likely suffer from health issues.

The shorter your ice bath, the better. Keep it at 10 minutes maximum, and make sure to do breathwork beforehand to get the most out of your session.

How to Set Up an Ice Bath

What's great about ice baths is they're easy to set up in your own home. You just need a tub, water, ice, and a thermometer!

Typically, you'll need anywhere between 40-100 pounds of ice to create an effective plunge. Of course, the exact amount will depend on where you're located and the time of year it is. If you're using a portable tub, the area you put it in will matter too.

To get started, fill your tub up with water, but not all the way. Take an initial temperature reading, then add a little ice. Repeat this process until you reach the desired temp.

Another method is to use a chiller, but it's a much pricier option. All you'll have to do is hook it up to your ice bath, and it'll filter water to your desired temperature. This can be worth it if you're planning on taking regular ice baths.

How Can You Keep an Ice Bath at an Ideal Temperature?

First, choose a shaded area so your bath isn't heated up by the sun. The location should also be free of anything that may heat the tub up, such as an AC unit.

Even though you shouldn't be in the ice bath for over 10 minutes, the temperature can quickly fluctuate if you don't keep an eye on it. Use a thermometer both before and during your plunge, and make adjustments if necessary. Make sure you only add small amounts of cold water and ice to ensure the temperature doesn't drop too drastically. 

If you're using a chiller, then leave the lid and UV cover on whenever possible. This will help maintain the water temperature inside.

how cold should an ice bath be
At Reconnect, we do our ice bath on the beach!

Have the Best Ice Bath Experience Possible

Now you know the answer to the question, "How cold should an ice bath be?" Generally speaking, it should be under 60°F, with most enthusiasts staying between 40-50°F.

The important thing is to start with a higher temp and work towards lower ones slowly. You should also keep in mind what your goals are, as that'll affect what temperature you should use. Plus, check with your doctor before trying an ice bath, as you may have a health condition that might make it riskier to do.

Want to have an unforgettable ice bath experience? Then come have one with ReConnect in beautiful Playa Del Carmen. We also offer courses on ice baths and breathwork


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