6+ Ways to Keep a Water Bottle Cold Without Ice


a cold bottle of mineral water

If summer is around the corner, you may be starting to think about how refreshing it would be to drink cold water.

We don’t really have this problem around the winter, but when the temperatures get high, the colder the drink, the better. Right? Even if we risk catching a cold.

Well, it may come as no surprise, but people do use a lot of ice during the summer. In fact, Americans are known for their high consumption of ice cubes.

However, you may not always have any ice cubes  handy. So what can you do then? Are you going to be stuck with hot water for the whole day?

You are in luck, dear reader, as some nifty little tricks can actually provide you with fresh and cold water even when the temperatures are not cooperating.

Of course, your water may not be ice cold per se. But in the heat of the day, I feel you will agree with me, drinking water that has been cooled off even by a single degree is still worth it.

So without further ado, let us take a look.

Six Ways to Keep a Water Bottle Cold Without Ice

The best way to cool your bottle, if you are one of the cool kids, will be by using some dry ice or liquid nitrogen. But, not all of us are that cool, so if you don’t just happen to have some liquid nitrogen lying around the house, we will have to resort to more standard everyday solutions.

So let us take a look at what you can do if you are not one of the cool people but still want to enjoy some nice and refreshing water.

If you are in a pinch, all of these can work for you, depending on your location and surroundings.

1. Use Stainless Steel Ice Cubes (Or Whiskey Stones)

I really like the design of the stainless steel ice cubes (Click the link or image to check the update and price on Amazon). They look super sleek and stylish.

Their main purpose is not to look cool, although they do, but to keep your drink cold for as long as possible. And best of all, they are reusable hence why some people refer to as reusable ice cubes.

These reusable ice cubes can be made from different materials. You can find them in plastic and even bamboo. However, these materials are not good at retaining the temperatures for long.

This is why stainless steel cubes will be a better choice.

First, they don’t contain any harmful chemicals like the BPA’s found in plastic.

In fact, some consider them even more sanitary than the regular ice cubes. And we will get to that in a bit. So if you are interested in the hidden dangers of ice cubes, make sure to check the bottom section of the article.

They usually will not alter the taste of your water or beverages. However, depending on the model you get, you may end up with cubes that can leave a slightly metallic taste.

And finally, they will last you a really, really long time. Probably the only reason why you would need a new set of stainless steel cubes is that you lost them.

But how long can stainless steel cubes keep your drink cold for?

That would depend on a lot of factors like:

  • The temperature of the water;
  • The environmental temperature;
  • Exposure to the sun or other heat sources; and
  • The humidity levels.

In general, stainless steel ice cubes will perform the best.

stainless steel ice cubes
img source: Nutty Goat

Some models may contain liquid inside, which is a mixture of water and other chemicals that can make the cubes as effective, if not more, as ice. But they also will take the longest to freeze. Stainless steel cubes need to be chilled in the freezer for at least one to four hours before they are good to go.

A good rule of thumb is to lightly soak the cubes before placing them in the freezer, as this will speed up the whole process.

And last but not least, although ice cubes are a neat little trick to keep your drinks cold, keep in mind that if you are placing them inside your water bottle, you will need to take into consideration their dimensions and the mouth opening of the water bottle.

However, generally speaking, they should have relatively the same size as a regular ice cube, which most of the wide-mouth water bottles can easily accommodate.

2. Use Your Surroundings

If you don’t have access to a fridge or ice cubes, the chances are you may be traveling, hiking, camping, or just being on vacation.

However, your surroundings can provide you with certain benefits and opportunities.

Take a look around and see what you can use to your advantage. You may have to think outside the box but worry not, as I will give you some ideas and life hacks that I have used myself to keep my water cold while traveling.

If there is a river, a stream, or even a lake close to you, you can submerge the water bottle in the water. Running rivers and streams are usually best as they tend to be a lot colder. It won’t take too much before you have a nice cooled down drinkable water in your bottle.

Another little trick is to wrap your water bottle in a towel before placing it in a river or stream. As the towel soaks the cold water from the stream, this will speed up the whole process and will keep your bottle colder for longer.

If you are at the beach where you may not feel comfortable leaving your bottle in the water, what you can do is dig a small hole in the sand.

a glass reusable water bottle on the beach

You don’t need a deep hole. About ten to fifteen inches may be enough. Try to reach the part of the sand that is really cold, moist, and saturated with the ocean’s water. Place your bottle in the hole and bury it. This will keep your bottle cooler.

You can bury the water bottle in cold and damp soil as well, so you don’t necessarily have to be at the beach to do that.

But make sure to place a visible marker where your bottle is.

And last but not least, if you are placing your bottle in a stream or a river, make sure to have it tied down to something or anchored in some way, so it doesn’t get carried away by the current.

During the winter season, you may be able to cool your water bottle a lot easier.

You can place the bottle in the snow or fill a bucket with snow and place the bottle inside.

Even just leaving the water bottle outside for twenty minutes, maybe more than enough.

3. Use Earthenware

There is a unique thing about clay pots and earthenware that many people may or may not know about.

Storing water and produce in clay pots have been used for centuries. The reason for that is that clay can keep the things inside colder.

In fact, there is a thing called Zeer Pot Fridge (also known as a pot-in-pot refrigerator), which can effectively keep the water or food inside it colder without the need for any ice or electricity. Amazing, isn’t it?

img source: Practical Action

But how can clay keep your water colder?

This happens as a result of the structure of the clay. Clay is a porous material that allows for the water to seep through and evaporate from the outside wall. You may have noticed that frequently clay pots filled with water may get wet outside.

And as the water permeates through the walls of the pot and evaporates, it reduces the temperature inside. This phenomenon is known as Evaporation Cooling.

It is worth noting here that not every type of clayware is going to be good for that. Polished and coated clay containers are a no-go as they prevent the water from escaping through the clay material.

Unpolished and uncoated containers that contain a decent amount of sand in them are going to be best for that type of work.

4. Use The Wind Method

bottle wrapped in the wet towel

Another way to make use of the Evaporative Cooling phenomenon is to soak a piece of cotton cloth, a paper towel, or a regular towel with water and wrap it around your water bottle.

As the water evaporates, it will keep your bottle cooler.

But you can take this one step further.

After you have wrapped the bottle in the wet towel, place it in a bowl. Fill the bowl with water and make sure that the towel reaches down into the water so that the towel can absorb the water.

Place the bottle in a well-ventilated place where there is good airflow (hence the name of this method). For example, you can place it next to an open window.

However, try to keep the bottle in a shady area, since if it is in direct contact with sunlight, it may heat up.

Keep an eye on the bowl and make sure to fill it up with more water if the water has been absorbed.

In my opinion, this is one of the best methods that we can use if we are in a pinch, as everything you need should be readily available almost everywhere.

5. Make the Most out of Your Refrigerator

Say you have access to a refrigerator, but the only downside is that there is no ice in it.

There are still a few things you can do to make your water colder.

Fill your bottle with water wrap it around with a damp paper towel (or regular towel) and place the bottle inside the fridge. The paper towel will cool the bottle at a much faster rate.

If the problem is that you don’t have any ice trays, you can always try another thing.

Fill the bottle with water, no more than one-third to one-half the way up.

Then place the bottle in the fridge to cool it off. After a while, move it to the freezer to freeze it.

That way, you will significantly reduce the chances of the bottle deforming or breaking because the temperature shock will be less.

What makes bottle shatter is the fact that water actually shrinks a little as it reaches freezing temperature, and then when it starts freezing, it expands.

Don’t fill the bottle more half of the bottle and lay it on its side, make sure that the water doesn’t block or reach the neck and don’t place the lid on.

  • A word of caution here.

Keep in mind that not all bottles are freezer-safe. For freezing water, it is recommended to use only plastic bottles. However, certain metal bottles can be used, as well. Before placing your water bottle inside the freezer, always double-check if it is suitable for freezing water.

6. Run the Faucet

running faucet to cool the bottle water

Another very simple method to cool down your water bottle is by placing it under a running faucet.

Back when I was a little kid, we used to cool watermelons that way, and it really worked. Just run a continuous stream of cold water while placing the bottle underneath.

Additionally, you can place the water bottles inside a big bowl or container, which will catch the water and speed up the cooling process. That way, you can also not waste the water as you can reuse it later for other purposes.

Similarly, you can also use a showerhead, bath spigot, or any other source of water.

How to Keep Your Water Bottle Cold Without Placing Ice Inside?

ice cubes and a bottle of water

Now there are a few things that I want to cover here.

Above I explored the different techniques we can use to keep a water bottle cold if you don’t have access to any ice whatsoever.

But with that being said, some of you may actually have access to ice; but don’t want to place it inside the bottle.

This is understandable, especially considering some of the dangers associated with ice.

Why Ice May Be Unhealthy

I like drinking cold water and beverages. I even do it in the winter. So you can be sure that I like having ice in my drinks as much as the next guy.

But there are hidden dangers when consuming ice, especially ice from fast-food chains, restaurants and even from our own freezer at home. Why? Well, it can be extremely unsanitary and a latent health hazard.

For example, did you know that in some restaurant (and fast-food chain) ice cubes, experts found more bacteria than what is typically found in toilet water?

Bacteria, mold, and germs can grow on ice, too, despite it being cold.

Both ice makers and ice trays can get contaminated and transfer germs and bacteria to your ice cubes. Here are a few things that can make ice dangerous to our health:

  • Touching the ice cubes, ice trays, and the inside of the ice machines with dirty hands;
  • Not removing old ice before making a new batch of ice cubes;
  • Not cleaning the ice trays, the inside of the ice machine, and the inside of the freezer properly; and
  • Using old water or not changing the water inside the ice machine.

However, even though the idea of consuming bacteria and various germs with the ice in your drinks may seem disturbing, the risks from a disease are relatively low.

We don’t need to take any unwanted risks with our health, so I recommend using home-made ice and frequently cleaning your ice cube trays or ice machine (if you are using one).

The idea is not to spread any fear but to spread awareness.

Make an Ice Bath

bottles of water in ice bucket

One of the best ways to take advantage of the ice without actually using it in your water bottle is by filling a bucket, a bowl, or another type of container with ice and placing the bottle inside.

A very simple and easy method.

This will cool down your water bottle, but it may take about 20 to 30 minutes in total, so it may not happen as quickly as actually using the ice.

Use Salt

Salt can be very useful, and there are different pros and cons associated with it.

But if you add some salt and water to the ice cubes bath, you can further speed up the whole process.

There are no hard and fast numbers here but generally speaking; add about 1/3 of a cup of salt for every 1 pound of ice you will be using.

Make Salty Ice Cubes

Adding salt to the water actually lowers the water’s freezing temperature – this makes the frozen salty water remain relatively colder as it melts.

However, the downside is that it will start melting sooner.

With that being said, don’t expect any miracles.

The freezing point of regular water is about 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and the freezing point of seawater is about 28.4, but seawater has about 3.5% salt.

If you add more salt, the freezing temperature will lower.

For example, water with 10% salt will freeze at 20 degrees F., and at 20%, it will go down to 2 degrees F.

The difference is not that huge, but in the heat of the day, every single degree matters.

Use a Cooler Bag

cooler bag to keep the water cool

Another easy way to keep your water bottle cold is by placing it inside a cooler bag. You can fill it up with ice, snow, or just use the freezer packs they come with.

All of these work exceptionally well and are great for keeping both liquids and food cold.

The better insulated the container you are using, the quicker and better the whole cooling effect will be.

For the best results, you can even try to cover the container with a lid to prevent the temperature from easily dissipating in the air.

What Water Bottle Will Keep your Water Colder

stainless steel bottle water on the grass
different type of water bottles on the grass

Regardless of what other methods you will be using, choosing the right bottle is of the utmost importance if you really want to keep your water or drinks cold for as long as possible.

Choosing the right kind of water bottle can mean the difference between having cold water for 20 minutes and having cold water for more than 12 or even 24+ hours.

So how do you make the right choice?

Well, there are different types of bottles on the market, but generally, you will encounter the following:

  • Metal water bottles;
  • Plastic water bottles; and
  • Glass water bottles.

Each one has different purposes, pros, and cons. But here we will rate them in terms of their insulation capabilities. After all, the better the insulation, the longer the water inside will stay cold.

Glass Water Bottles

Unfortunately, glass, although being one of the best materials we can store water in, is going to perform the worst insulation-wise.

Glass does not provide good insulating protection and transfers heat quickly, meaning the temperature of the liquids inside will balance out with the temperature of the atmosphere outside reasonably quickly. And this applies to both cold and hot drinks.

Plastic Water Bottles

The next on the list will be the plastic water bottles.

They are infamous for their chemical content.

Many of the single-use do not just contain harmful chemicals, but they are simply unsuitable for keeping water. BPAs can potentially be released in the water at almost any room temperature (both hot and cold temperatures).

The good thing is that there are reusable water bottles that are free from BPAs and phthalates.

But with that being said, most of the plastic bottles will perform in a similar matter as the glass bottles.

The majority of them are single-walled, and this makes it easy for the temperature to dissipate, meaning your water inside will not stay cold for long.

However, not all plastic water bottles are created equal.

Some plastic bottles do have a double-walled design, which will significantly improve their insulating capabilities.

The double-wall design makes it so that the liquid inside the bottle has no contact point with the temperatures outside. As a result, this will reduce the impact of the hot weather on your cold drink in the bottle.

The reusable plastic bottles are some of the most versatile bottles that we can have.

Although they do have their advantages and disadvantages, a good plastic double-walled bottle can prove its worth many times over.

Metal Water Bottles

There are different metal water bottles. For example, there are aluminum, stainless steel, and even copper water bottles.

However, the stainless steel water bottles take the first spot when it comes to insulation. More specifically, double-walled vacuum insulated stainless steel water bottles.

The vacuum and the double-wall design provide for the perfect insulation and will keep the water inside colder for hours on end. Some bottles are said to keep the water inside cool for at least 12 hours, if not a lot more.

Single Wall vs. Double-Wall Insulation

Although the material has a big say in the heat transfer and heat retention of your drink, it boils down to the quality and type of insulation your water bottle has.

And this is, at least in my book, a number one priority.

Overall there are three main types of insulation a water bottle can have.

  1. Single-wall insulation – This is the most basic type of water bottle insulation consisting of just a single wall between you and your drink. And frankly, this is not considered “insulation”. The temperature will transfer super fast, and it will not take too much time before your cold water becomes lukewarm or warm. These bottles usually sweat when filled with cold water and become super hot when filled with a hot beverage.
  2. Double-walled air insulation – This is a double-walled design that will keep your water colder for a lot longer. The two walls are separated by air, which acts as natural insulation. These bottles very rarely, if at all, sweat or become super hot.
  3. Double-walled vacuum insulation – This is the best kind of insulation a water bottle can have. The two walls are separated by a vacuum, which provides superb insulation, reducing the heat or cold transfer to a minimum. As a result, your cold water can stay cold for hours on end.

As you can see, when we are in a pinch but still want to enjoy a cool and refreshing sip of water every little attention to the detail matters.

Of course, we can use different methods to cool the water down, but ultimately, it all boils down to proper preparation and, most of all, having a quality water bottle.

Resources I Used:

  • https://www.quora.com/Do-stainless-steel-ice-cubes-cool-a-drink-as-strongly-as-regular-ice-cubes-for-the-same-volume-of-a-cube
  • https://naturecode.org/reusable-ice-cubes/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pot-in-pot_refrigerator
  • https://chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/5220/how-do-i-chill-water-without-a-refrigerator
  • https://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/climate-weather/atmospheric/road-salt.htm
  • https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/seawater.htm
  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749114002000
  • https://www.miir.com/blogs/technology/how-to-choose-the-best-insulation-for-your-beverage
  • https://www.wikihow.com/Cool-Beers-Without-a-Fridge
  • https://www.insanefordrinks.com/ways-to-keep-your-drink-cold-without-ice/
  • https://lifehacks.stackexchange.com/questions/2107/how-can-i-quickly-cool-a-water-bottle
  • http://www.grubstreet.com/2013/06/ice-machines-bacteria-toilet-water.html
  • https://www.huffpost.com/entry/ice-cubes-gross_n_5475301
  • https://www.newair.com/blogs/learn/dirty-ice-makers-will-get-you-sick

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