Gel ice packs can be convenient for keeping your foods and beverages cool during long rides or when you want to ice a sprained ankle or two.
However, they can also start taking up a lot of space in your freezer. So, you might be thinking of ways to get rid of the ice packs once and for all.
But how do you dispose of gel ice packs? Can you throw them in the garbage, or is there some particular disposal method for it?
Keep reading to find out how to dispose of gel ice packs.
How to Dispose of Gel Ice Packs
Below are the steps to dispose of Gel Ice packs the right way!
Step 1: Determine What Kind of Gel Ice Pack You Have and What it Contains
The first thing you need to do is determine what kind of gel ice pack you have and what kind of substance it contains inside.
Depending on the material inside, the disposal process can be slightly different.
There are different kinds of ice packs for different purposes. Instant ice packs contain water and some activating substance.
These are good for first aid kits, and you can quickly dispose of them by throwing them in the trash as they don’t contain any toxic material.
Besides those, there are reusable ice packs. Within these, different types contain different substances inside.
Sometimes, these ice packs contain water with an additional ingredient mixed in to improve their ability to retain cold temperatures.
Sometimes, they contain plain water, and sometimes, they have refrigerant gel. You can check the label on the ice pack to determine what’s inside.
Otherwise, you can contact the manufacturer of the ice pack to inquire about the specific substance inside.
Step 2: Get Rid of the Gel/Liquid Inside the Gel Ice Pack
The next thing you need to do is get rid of the gel or whatever liquid is inside the gel ice pack. While you can throw the entire ice pack in the garbage bin, it is not the most environmentally friendly way of disposing of gel ice packs.
These will only take up more space in landfills.
A better way is to dispose of and recycle each component of the gel ice pack separately.
Thankfully, there are just two components in the gel ice packs you need to worry about. There are the outer plastic and inner substance.
By now, you must have figured out what exactly the substance inside the ice pack is. Now, it’s time to get rid of it.
If the ice pack contains plain water, you can cut a corner of the ice pack and allow the water to drain into the sink.
If the ice pack contains some other liquid or refrigerant gel, you can cut the ice pack’s corner and drain the liquid into your regular garbage bin.
Do not pour this liquid down your sink or any other drain, as it can clog your pipes and lead to other problems.
If you want to take an even more environmentally friendly route, pour the gel into a tray. After a while, the gel will start to dry, and as it dries, it will shrink in size.
Once it has stopped shrinking, you can throw it in the garbage, same as before.
However, this time, it will take up less space in your garbage bin, and consequently, less space in landfills. It will also be easier to handle.
Step 3: Rinse the Plastic Cover of the Ice Pack
Now, you have to deal with the plastic cover of the gel ice pack. Again, you could throw the plastic in the trash, but that’s not the most responsible way of disposing of the ice pack cover.
Once you have gotten rid of the gel or water inside, rinse the plastic cover with water to wash away any remnants.
Then dry the plastic cover. After that, it’s ready for recycling.
Step 4: Recycle the Clean Plastic Cover of the Gel Ice Pack
Recycling does not mean that you can dump it in your recycling bin with the rest of your paper or glass products.
Different materials tend to be recycled differently. If you throw plastic away with such items, they can get stuck in the machine gears, and belts meant for other recyclable items.
This process wastes a lot of time, money, and effort at recycling centers. Therefore, make sure you throw the plastic cover in the right recycling bin.
Take it to your nearest recycling center and ask them which is the right place to dispose of it.
If you don’t want to make that trip, you can also ask the recycling center if they pick up the houses’ recycling materials.
You might have to pay some fee for it, though.
Other Ways to Dispose of Gel Ice Packs
If you don’t want to necessarily throw away the gel ice packs or recycle them but want to get rid of them from your house, there are a few other ways, too.
Donate the Gel Ice Packs to a Food Bank or Other Charitable Organizations
As long as the gel ice packs aren’t punctured, leaking, or damaged in any other way, you can donate them to a food bank or other charitable organizations.
Food banks can use the gel ice packs to keep food cool while transporting the food over long distances or distributing the food.
Similarly, you can donate the ice packs to schools, churches, or other similar organizations where people can use them to keep lunches cool and prevent them from going bad.
You can also donate them to other charitable organizations, such as Goodwill, to use them to keep edible items cold.
This way, you can get rid of all the gel ice packs piling up at home and help out people who need it. Since the ice packs aren’t going in the garbage, you will end up saving the environment, too.
Give Them Away to Friends and Family
You can also reach out to your friends and family to see if anyone needs gel ice packs at home.
If anyone in your social circle is planning a trip to the beach or camping, they can benefit from the gel ice packs and keep their drinks cool during the trip.
Similarly, if any of your friends have recently sustained an injury or you know any athletes, as they tend to injure themselves frequently, you can give the ice packs away to them, too.
They can use the gel ice packs to soothe their injuries and deal with any inflammation.
Before you give the gel ice packs away, make sure they are all in good condition. They shouldn’t be damaged or leaking as that could contaminate food and lower their effectiveness.
Wash and dry the gel ice packs before handing them over to prevent the spread of any germs.
Is the Gel or Liquid Inside Gel Ice Packs Dangerous?
If your gel ice packs are punctured or damaged in any other way, causing the gel inside to leak, and you are afraid to handle it yourself, don’t worry.
While the gel or whatever liquid is inside it can look toxic and dangerous, it really isn’t.
Most of the gel ice packs contain entirely safe and biodegradable gel, usually made of cellulose or polymer.
While you shouldn’t try to consume the gel actively, you don’t need to be scared of it either. It won’t harm your skin if it comes into contact with your fingers or hands.
In fact, even if you do ingest a small amount of it accidentally, you don’t need to worry about it. You can comfortably carry out the entire disposal process mentioned above.
How to Make Your Gel Ice Packs at Home?
You might be feeling hesitant in disposing of all the gel ice packs, thinking you might need one at any point in time.
In that case, we’ll tell you how you can make your gel ice pack at home whenever you need one, and you can comfortably dispose of all the gel ice packs you have for now.
You will need two Ziploc bags or any sealable plastic bags, two cups of water, and one cup of 70% rubbing alcohol. Then, follow these steps:
- Mix the water and rubbing alcohol.
- Add the mixture to one of the bags.
- Try to get as much air out as possible and then seal the bag.
- Place the bag inside the other bag to prevent damage and leaks.
- Place the ice pack in your freezer in a flat position to make it easy to mold.
- Let the pack freeze for an hour at least, and then wrap it in a towel before using it on your body.
Gel ice packs can be handy for several purposes around the house.
However, if you regularly receive meals or medication with ice packs, you will find yourself with a sizeable collection of gel ice packs at home.
So, before they start piling up, dispose of them right away or donate them to local charities.
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