What’s Up with Cold Tubs?

What’s up with cold tubs? For most people, jumping into extremely cold water is about as appealing as a trip to the dentist. And yet…cold tubs are the new hot item.

What’s behind this trend? Why are increasing numbers of people willingly jumping into freezing water?

Let’s take an in-depth look at the cold plunge trend to try to answer these questions.

What Even Is a Cold Tub?

Glad you asked. A cold tub is a specialized bathtub designed to allow a person to immerse themselves in a bath of ice water. These tubs are often designed so that the user has the ability to control the temperature. Most of the cold tubs that are fashionable right now are designed for a single person.

Why on Earth Would You Get Into a Cold Tub?

Simple, to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation. Athletes have long used ice baths or cold plunges following games to aid with recovery. They help fight muscle fatigue and can aid in reducing soreness and swelling.

It’s not really that different from using ice to prevent swelling after you’ve sustained an injury. Well, except for the fact that the ice is all over your body, and you’ll be immersed in water that’s less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Are They Also Beneficial for Non-Athletes?

Even if you didn’t just play in a big game, there are some potential benefits of taking a cold plunge. Studies have shown that hydrotherapy, particularly using cold water, can strengthen your immune system.

There is also some evidence that a regular dip in freezing waters is beneficial for your mental health. If it’s good for the body and the mind, what more could you ask?

Can’t I Just Fill Up My Bathtub With Ice?

You could! And no one would stop you. Although, there are some benefits to having a dedicated cold tub. Namely, that you can control the exact temperature of the water.

Additionally, rather than having to make a bunch of extra ice and lug it to your bathroom every time you want a plunge, many cold tubs make things easier on the user. You simply set your desired temperature and jump right in!

Where Are Cold Tubs Available?

Cold tubs are available from specialty retailers with names like Ice Barrel, Polar Recovery, and Chilly Goat. They come in quite an extensive range as well. You can find budget-friendly options for just over $100, as well as luxury models that run upwards of $10,000.

Of course, you get what you pay for. Cold tubs at the cheaper end of the market don’t offer much more than a bathtub. You’ll need to add the ice yourself (although most tubs are insulated, so they may stay cold for several days). Higher-end tubs are self-cooling, can be installed indoors or out, and sometimes double as hot tubs.

Can Anyone Use a Cold Tub?

Theoretically, yes. However, some people should exercise a bit of caution. For example, people with a history of heart disease should consult a doctor before jumping in.

Likewise, people with diabetes or vascular issues should take care to make sure they won’t be negatively impacted. Ice baths reduce inflammation and swelling by temporarily narrowing blood vessels. If you already have vascular complications, a cold plunge may not be the ideal therapy for you.

Are Cold Tubs Risky?

As noted above, cold tubs are potentially risky for people with certain health conditions. But, health condition or not, anyone immersing themselves in freezing water is putting themselves at risk for hypothermia. After all, water removes heat from the body 25 times faster than air, which means hypothermia can occur significantly faster when you’re in cold water.

How Long Can I Safely Be in a Cold Tub?

Most experts suggest you shouldn’t stay in a cold tub for much longer than 10 minutes. The studies done on athletes typically use cold plunge durations between 5 and 10 minutes.

It’s safe to say that doing a cold plunge shouldn’t be an endurance exercise. You’ll want to get in and get out. There’s some evidence that you could start to see benefits after as little as 60 seconds.

Time to Hit the Tub!

Convinced? If so, you’re certainly not the only one! Only time will tell if cold tubs are a temporary trend or if they have staying power. But one thing is for sure — you’ll never forget your first plunge!


  • David Francis

    Dave is a published author who has written about everything from travel to finance to pop culture trends. He also has years of experience in the nonprofit industry, authoring grant proposals, training manuals, and white papers. He’s had the privilege of calling multiple Midwestern states home.

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