How do Hot and Cold Ice Packs Work?

How do Hot and Cold Ice Packs Work?
10 August 2022

How do Hot and Cold Ice Packs Work?


Hot and cold ice packs are a versatile and cost-effective addition to any first aid kit, providing relief of pain or discomfort in multiple ways. 

When warm or hot, you can apply the pack to an area of the body to increase blood circulation. This is effective in soothing menstrual cramps, muscle tensions, arthritis, aches and pains. When applied as a cold ice pack, they are suitable for treating headaches, migraines, toothache, and soothing swollen muscles.

These unique hot and cold ice packs are scientifically designed to be versatile and provide hot or cold relief suitable for multiple uses, again and again. Here, we will answer the question—how do hot and cold ice packs work? As well as discuss some of the alternative hot and cold therapy products available.


What is a hot and cold pack?

A hot and cold ice pack is a high-quality reusable gel pack filled with a conductive liquid solution. The pack has a soft external coating to ensure optimal user comfort in sensitive areas and is designed to reduce the risk of puncture, containing the gel inside safely.

The pack is long-lasting and versatile as the internal gel can be reheated and frozen repeatedly without losing effectiveness. Designed for ease of use, these durable packs can either be quickly heated in a microwave or hot water or kept in the freezer in case of injury.

The Science Behind Hot and Cold Packs

If you’re wondering, “how do hot and cold packs work?” the answer is simple.

Our reusable hot and cold packs are filled with a liquid made of water and a non-toxic, viscous gel which conducts heat or coolness efficiently throughout the pack and retains the temperature for longer.

When the pack is frozen, the combination of gel and water ensures that the pack can maintain the cool temperature for longer than ice or even a bag of frozen peas! The pack’s gel also improves the rate at which the pack will reach freezing point, so you only need to have stored it in the freezer for 1-2 hours to reach the desired temperature that will reduce swelling or pain symptoms. 

Similarly to freezing the hot and cold pack, the gel and water combination will easily absorb and conduct heat through the entire pack quickly when heated in a microwave or submerged in hot water for a short time. The gel ingredient is designed to retain heat longer than water can alone. 

The gel also makes the solution inside the pack slightly thicker than water, creating a consistency that can easily conform to the area of the body required, whether used for hot or cold therapy.

Hot and Cold Pack Alternatives

While reusable hot and cold packs are durable, versatile, and long-lasting, alternative products offer hot or cold therapy in other ways, such as spray-on gels or bandages.

Spraying deep heat on a football players knee

This simple fabric bag can be kept in your gym bag or first aid kit, ready to fill with ice cubes in the event of injury. Benefits include the bag’s compact size when empty, and its fabric exterior easily conforms to the body. It’s worth noting that, to use this ice bag effectively, you will need easy access to a freezer full of ice cubes or crushed ice. 

Sometimes an area of the body that would benefit from heat therapy is hard to reach or is too large to be covered with a hot pack. This easy-to-apply heat spray is the perfect addition to your gym bag, ready to soothe sore muscles and joints after an intense workout or training session. Effective after just 3 seconds of spraying, heat spray is best suited to treat sports injuries but less effective than a reusable hot and cold pack to soothe cramps or increase a patient’s body temperature.  

This portable bottle of Sterofreeze spray offers cold therapy in mere seconds. Suitable for relieving muscle pain and tension, this portable, easy-to-use spray bottle can provide a cooling relief to an area of the body without needing access to ice or a pre-frozen cold pack. Sprayed directly onto the skin, Sterofreeze can reach difficult areas or cover wider areas of the body in need of its cooling effects.

Deep heat is specially formulated to generate heat in muscles, increasing blood circulation. Deep heat spreads heat beneath the skin’s surface, creating a tingling sensation that relieves pain, relaxes muscles, and increases blood circulation. Deep heat can effectively reduce injury risk when applied before exercise or be used on sore or injured muscles and joints upon injury or discomfort. Available in easy-to-use spray to reach difficult areas or as a thick gel rub that can be massaged into an injured area for intense heat therapy. 

Effective in targeting cold therapy on a specific area, Physicool cooling bandages quickly reduce swelling and continuously cool an injured area. The bandages are saturated with rapidly evaporating alcohols that react to natural body heat and begin to draw heat from the area upon application. The small size is suitable for use on an injured wrist, elbow, calf, or ankle, while the large size can be used on the shoulder area, knee, leg, torso, or back. Physicool cooling bandages are easier to secure and keep in place than a reusable hot or cold pack and are popular with physiotherapists and sports medics. You can purchase additional Physicool Recharge Spray to continue to saturate the bandage and keep the injured area cool for longer.

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