Your Complete Guide to In-Home Cold Therapy
May 26, 2023 By Laura Nightengale
Do you want to get started with cold therapy but you’re stressing over which in-home therapy tool to choose? We tried out the top-selling cold water immersion therapy solutions, and we’re breaking down the similarities and differences so you can learn more about what will work best for your situation and needs.
What to consider when purchasing a cold-therapy training tool
When you’re ready to step up to a purpose-built cold therapy training tool, there are a number of things to think about beyond the price. Answering these questions can help you select the right system for your lifestyle and needs.
Size and location
The amount of space you can dedicate to your cold therapy training tool is a major consideration. Each of the options discussed below have different footprints (amount of area needed) and vary considerably in weight when set up and full of water. Here are some questions to ask yourself.
- How much space do you have?
- Can the location, such as a deck, handle the weight of the cold therapy tool when full of water?
- Do you need or want to move your cold therapy tool frequently? Or rarely to not at all?
- Is your preferred location near an outlet? The outlet location may not be a consideration for your initial setup but that could change later if you add a chiller or water quality system.
Getting – and keeping – it cold
How to keep your cold therapy training tool at the desired temperature is one of the most frequently asked questions. Here are a few follow-ups to ask yourself.
- What method will you use to maintain the desired temperature: ice or a chiller?
- If using ice, where is that coming from? It may not be desirable to haul ice up interior flights of stairs in a house or apartment. Are you making your own ice?
- If you’re using a chiller, is it close to a GCFI outlet? All ice baths use water so safe electrical practices are a must, including using only one extension cord and protecting all connections from water.
- Would noise from a chiller disrupt nearby living spaces? Chiller’s have varying noise levels. Chillers can range in loudness (decibels) from levels are similar to people talking to road noise. Some chillers are enclosed, which may reduce the noise level.
Cleaning and maintenance
All of the systems have 100 gallons or more of water, so consider where that water will go when it needs to be drained and refilled, which may be every couple of weeks to months.
- How are you cleaning your cold therapy tool? Some have a drain valve while others require a pump, but all of them need to be drained periodically to maintain the water quality. The frequency will depend on a number of factors, such as showering to remove sweat and oils before using the cold therapy tool, use of water stabilizers and other water quality tools, frequency of use and the season.
- How will you drain your cold therapy tool as part of regular maintenance? Will you need to change your process depending on the time of year (for example, summer versus winter)?
There are several other considerations when selecting your cold water immersion training tool, and high on that list for many is aesthetics. If you’ve put a lot of thought and effort into creating a backyard sanctuary, for example, you’ll want your cold therapy tool to fit in. Check out the different options that meet your beauty and color choices.
Warranty and customer service
Another major consideration is the warranty. Be sure to understand the warranty limitations, not only the length of time but also what kinds of damage or events they cover. In addition to the structure (e.g. barrel or tub), some of the options below include mechanical and electrical equipment.
Many of these items are fairly large so be sure to know if shipping is included or what it will cost. Is set up included or will they only drop it at the front door? Depending on your handiness and the complexity of the system, you may need to hire a handyman to help you set up your cold therapy tool.
Last, but not least, is to know what accessories you’re going to need or want. Can you fill and go once your cold therapy tool arrives or will you need to outfit it with things like a cover and water quality tools?
Ice Barrel is an attractive cold water immersion therapy and training solution that allows the user to sit upright. It takes up a minimal amount of floor space (31-inch diameter) plus the stool for getting into and out of the Ice Barrel.
With a unique upright design, Ice Barrel offers an easy way to fully submerge in your ice bath and maintain a comfortable, natural position. Because of its relatively small footprint, it can be placed anywhere that can handle 750 pounds, which is the weight of the Ice Barrel filled with water. It’s portable when empty and does not require being close to an electrical outlet. It does not come with a chiller or other powered water quality devices, but the maintenance kit provides solid water quality maintenance. It comes with the lid, protective UV cover and step stool. It’s made of 100% recycled material here in the USA. There is a limited lifetime warranty.
Operation & maintenance
Operation is pretty straightforward with maintaining the temperature using ice and replacing the lid when not in use. The water should be drained about every 4 weeks depending on the weather and use. Using the water stabilizer will minimize the growth of algae and bacteria to keep your Ice Barrel clean.
Ice Barrel comes in two colors, black or desert tan. It has a rustic feel that resembles a wooden barrel. Its space-saving design means that it can be a centerpiece in your yard or tucked away to be unobtrusive.
The Maintenance Kit is a must-have accessory with water stabilizer, mesh net, thermometer, cleaning brush, cleaning soap and epsom salt.
The Ice Barrel is priced at $1,199.97. This does not include the cost of shipping or the maintenance kit.
Compact and aesthetically pleasing design that is good for you and the environment. Find out more.
The Morozko Forge ice bath is beautifully finished with a marine-grade polyethylene sealed wood for indoor or outdoor use. The user reclines in the tub for full immersion. The unit must be located near a 110v outlet to run the ice maker (for all models) and filtration systems (for some).
They offer two models: the Morozko Ice Bath and Morozko Ice Path Pro – with the Pro recommended for high-volume business use because of its upgraded refrigeration system. In addition, Morzko Forge is available in several lengths including 4-ft, 5-ft and 6-ft tub lengths. The units weigh approximately 250 pounds when empty. Assuming about 80 gallons of water, the total weight for a 5-ft model would be about 900 pounds. The Forge is fairly quiet and similar in noise level to normal talking.
Operation & maintenance
Morozko Forge makes its own ice to maintain the selected temperature so it needs to be near a 110v outlet. Inlet strainers should be cleaned after each use. Filtered units will need water changes only when there is unexpected or suspected contamination. Filters can last months to years depending on use.
These are beautiful units with a slightly industrial feel. The exterior is made of wood with a polyethylene seal for durability. They need to be installed indoors or in a protected area.
These are all inclusive units so the only thing you will need to buy are filters, as needed.
The standard home model is $12,850. The commercial model is $19,900. Customized options are available. Shipping is not included in the price.
One of the most beautiful units out there that makes its own ice and filters water for minimal water changes. Find out more.
Renu Cryo Plunge Tanks are all-inclusive systems made in the USA with an attractive wood deck and matching step stool. They can be set up indoors or outdoors but doe require access to a 110v outlet to run the filtration system and compressor for cooling the water. The user reclines in the tub for full immersion.
Three models are available; the Cold Stoic for those under 6’5” and 250 pounds, the Cold Stoic 2.0 for those under 6’7” and 275 pounds and the Siberian Cold Plunge for those above that height and/or weight. The base color comes in five color options to fit your style. In addition, the wood deck comes in four different wood colors and types. The Stoic and Stoic 2.0 are similar in weight at 375 and 350 pounds, respectively, so with approximately 80 gallons of water the total weight is approximately 1,050 pounds. The Siberian weighs approximately 650 pounds, so with 100 gallons of water it’s about 1,500 pounds. The unit produces up to 67 decibels at the unit, which is considered moderate to quiet, similar to being near road traffic.
Operations & maintenance
The Renu has a chiller device that cools the water to the desired temperature, down to 39 degrees Fahrenheit. The purification system uses oxiders and filtration, which means that water changes are needed only 1-2 times per year for residential use. Commercial users may need more frequent water changes. The filter should be changed about once per month.
The Renu has a modern look with many color choices for the base and wood type and colors for the deck to fit into any indoor or outdoor spa experience.
These are all-inclusive units so the only thing you will need to buy are filters, as needed. A pool-grade underwater lighting system is also available.
The standard sized Cold Stoic is priced from $9,699.99 to $13,399.99 for the Siberian Cold Plunge. Curbside delivery is included for contiguous U.S. addresses.
An all-inclusive system that can be styled to fit into your lifestyle including a no-chemical purification system for minimal water changes. Find out more.
Complete Human Cryo Tub
Each Complete Human Cryo Tub is uniquely beautiful with a base of reclaimed wood that is sealed with natural flaxseed oil and copper accents. They are made in the USA. The user reclines in a copper lined tub for full immersion. The unit requires power for the integrated cooling and filtration system. The water-quality system includes a filtration system and ozone generator.
The Complete Human Cryo Tub has two models with one intended for residential use and the other for commercial use. The residential model is 33 inches wide, 81 inches long and 26 inches tall. The commercial model is slightly wider and longer at 36 inches wide, 90 inches long and 26 inches tall. The residential grade tub should only be used indoors or in a highly protected outdoor location that does not go below freezing temperatures (such as a garage).
Operations & maintenance
Water should be changed about every 3 months for residential users and monthly for commercial units. Commercial units can support 30-50 users per day. Water can be pumped or siphoned out of the tub for water changes.
Complete Human uses several different types of reclaimed wood that results in each unit being uniquely beautiful. They use a traditional cherry stain that is sealed with natural flaxseed oil for a low grade shine. The tub is copper and the base has matching copper accents. Customized systems available.
These are all-inclusive units so the only thing you will need to buy are filters, as needed. Complete Human carries a number of other health products as well.
These are priced at $15,000 and include shipping to the contiguous U.S.
An all-inclusive, made-in-the-USA system made with reclaimed wood and copper with the user’s overall health in mind. Find out more.
Cold Therapy Hacks
Many people start their cold-therapy journey with a cold shower either in the morning or after a workout. Depending on location, the water may not reach therapeutic levels. For example, in the southern states, the water from the tap in the summer is often close to room temperature. The procedure is simple; turn the shower faucet to cold and stay in the stream for 5-10 minutes.
- Low entry cost as nothing to buy
- Not as effective as cold water immersion for muscle and joint pain and does not provide compression
- Likely to increase your water bill
- Wastes water
A step up from turning your shower cold, bath tubs are in most homes and apartments. They require adding several bags of ice to the tap water, which, as discussed above, can be difficult to cool to the right temperature depending on location and time of year. There is not a way to maintain temperature over time (e.g. several days) so ice will likely be required for each ice bath. Also depending on your situation, the water likely needs to be drained after each bath for water quality and for other users in the home. It is not safe to leave a tub full of water if there are children in the home due to drowning concerns.
- Provides the cold water immersion benefits without the cost of a new device
- Even if a tub is dedicated to just cold water immersion, they tend to leak and there is no way to maintain the lower temperatures needed to be effective
- Uses a lot of water
- Depending on location in the home, may be difficult to get cold and keep cold
This is the ultimate Do It Yourself (DIY) project for cold plunging. At its most basic, the DIYer turns a chest freezer into a single-purpose cold bath. The chest freezer can be sealed through several methods. Depending on the method, draining and cleaning the chest freezer can require a pump in addition to other water-quality devices. Chest freezers are intended for indoor use but may be okay outdoors if well protected from the weather.
- An option for those on a budget
- Great for people who love to tinker and create
- There are lots of people and resources to help you build without the most common mistakes (Join this Facebook page for a community that is passionate about their DIY projects)
- Even if you are new to DIY projects, the resources available today mean you do not need technical experience
- Chest freezers are not designed to be waterproof or have people in them so they do not have safety features such as ground fault protection (GFCI) and must be unplugged while using
- User error is common. Many users report issues such as leaks, staining and dirty water
- Setting it up can be time consuming including purchasing all the different components
- Requires weekly water changes unless you add purification and filtration systems
To find out more, we recommend visiting the Chest Freezer Cold Plunge Facebook Group. You can also check out John Richter’s book, “Chest Freezer Cold Plunge” for the best tips and tricks to build your own DIY project.
Stock tanks, either rubber or galvanized, are fairly similar to bath tubs in their set up. Stock tanks are often set up outdoors, are naturally water tight and usually are fairly easy to drain. Depending on the stock tank shape, the user is reclining or in a slight reclining position.
- Provides the cold water immersion benefits
- Does not need to be near a power outlet unless using chillers and/or water-quality devices
- Even if a stock tank is dedicated to just cold water immersion, they tend to be difficult to maintain therapeutic temperatures especially when the air temperature heats up
- Tend to have water quality issues so requires frequent water changes (1-2 times per week). Note that stock tanks do not usually have a lid so will need to be covered to prevent children, wildlife and pets from entering the stock tank. Drowning is a significant concern.
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