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Cold Plunge Pools vs. Ice Baths. What’s The Difference?

cold plunge pools

You’ve probably seen Cold Plunge Pools across your newsfeed over these past few months and for good reason. They are quite an effective tool for many reasons.

But given the phone calls and online messages we’ve had, I thought I’d address the difference between cold plunge pools and Ice Baths as there appears to be a little confusion between the two.

Or are they simply the same?

Cold Plunge Pools

It comes down to a matter of how you prefer to phrase things. Cold Plunging is simply submersing yourself in cold water using either a portable ice bath, a frozen lake, a fancy large cedar tub with a chiller attached or, even your own bathtub at home filled with ice.

Cold water plunging has also been called ice therapy, cold therapy, cold shock, cryotherapy (but that is actually next level) and cold dip.

So don’t get too worried about the semantics of it all. It largely means the same thing. So let’s break it down a little more just in case you want to be directed in a certain way.

Cold Plunge Pools are anything water-based that is cold however the setup could be different. Most often, and we’ll go with Freeze Tub sales on this one, we’ve sold over a thousand portable ice baths and as we were launching, one of the most asked questions was do we sell cold plunge pools, despite the question coming directly from our ice bath page.

So most often if you’ve heard how effective cold plunge pools have been and you want to experience cold water therapy, then the Freeze Tub Solo is probably a great place to start

Cold Plunge Pool

NZ’s Thickest Thermal Wall Insulated Ice Bath

If you want something a little more substantial and go all out with your Wim Hof Breathing Method, have the neighbours watch you from their hot spa and consider moving to the North Pole. Then I would consider investing in something a little more substantial. These cold plunge pools are quite common in Norway, the USA and Canada and can be upwards of $25,000.

But we might add when compared with the portable ice bath at home, this is a lot nicer.

What’s An Ice Bath Barrel?

There is a US-based company that specialises in producing thick plastic moulded ice baths. They weigh about 200kg so to have some shipped down to New Zealand would be extremely expensive. But again, another tool for the end result or cold plunging. Bear in mind, that you’re not in a cold plunge pool for any longer than 10 minutes, often less if it’s very cold.

We understand that it’s the benefits of ice baths that most people want – not so much your set-up looks. it would be a shame for a nice $25,000 cold plunge therapy pool just be for the neighbours to look at on a Saturday night while you’re inside with the heater on.

But the ice barrel is a great permanent solution for those people wanting something a little more substantial. If you can’t locate, or can’t afford to get one shipped from the US, then you could look at hiking one over from one of the vineyards in Waiheke Island. It’ll set you back about $400-$700.

We’ve had people clean these out before and it’s been great. One of the biggest headaches we heard, was cleaning the water. Because the ice barrels (or wine barrels) didn’t have a water extraction valve at the bottom to empty the water, you had to bucket the water out, and then tip the barrel over to get the remainder out at the bottom. Dry, clean and start over.

Over time, the water doesn’t react that well with Oak, the wood they manufacture the barrels out of so over time, mould, mildew and grime build up. We think it might be best suited for wine.

Ice Baths

So when you’re reviewing cold plunge pools, you’re probably just wanting a portable ice bath. Something to plunge into, for 3 to 8 minutes at 5 to 10 degrees Celsius, get the benefits that near-freezing cold water provides, and then get out.

If you’re after this, then Freeze Tub Ice Baths will probably be the best option for you.

They are NZ’s thickest thermal insulation on the market today. They also have two additional support legs making it more stable than any other competitor in NZ, and this makes all the difference when you have over 400L of water in it.

So whether you’re after fancy cold plunge pools or portable ice baths, They are largely the same thing. We’ve found it’s the end result you’re after, the benefit that cold water therapy provides.

If you spend $200 on a portable ice tub only to find that cold water therapy is not something for you, it didn’t break the bank.

Pretty easy investment to try something new and see if you like it – if you end up finding it’s not for you, just park it up next to the unused gym membership, call upon the neighbours with a bottle of red and jump on in the spa.


  • Dale Folland

    Dale is a seasoned Nutritionist with over two decades of experience in the health and wellness industry. His expertise has been sought after by elite groups such as NZ SAS Soldiers and NZ Fire Service, where he has contributed to optimising their performance and well-being. Dale is also a renowned speaker and educator and his work has been recognised in publications like the Daily Mail and various US media outlets.

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