Freezer packs are also known as ice packs, cold packs and gel packs. Freezer packs are often used in coolers to keep drinks or meals cold; however, they have many other uses. They are frequently used for first-aid purposes: to reduce swelling, on sore muscles, on bruises/scrapes, for headaches, or to soothe the sting of bug bites. Freezer/gel packs may contain a variety of ingredients.
Cold Compress Contents
Cold packs that are used as cold compresses for first-aid relief purposes, such as to relieve a fever, sprain, sore joint or muscle spasm, usually contain ammonium nitrate and water.
Homemade Ice Pack Contents
When you are unsure of the contents of a gel pack and you would feel more comfortable making your own cold packs, they can be made using different kinds of liquid ingredients. Water may be mixed with 80-proof vodka and food colouring in a zip-lock freezer bag. A variation is to use 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with twice as much water. A third option is to use liquid dish detergent in a freezer bag.
Gel Packs Containing Cellulose Gum
According to Lifoam Industries, gel packs contain a small amount of cellulose gum, salt and a larger amount of water. Although these ingredients are not considered toxic, ingestion by people or pets should be avoided.
Cold Pack Recalls Due to Ethylene Glycol
The government of Australia recalled a number of cold gel packs in 2008 after the Therapeutic Goods Administration discovered that ethylene glycol, which is a toxic substance, was being used in several brands. The brands cited were 3P PTY Ltd., Eastland Medical, and Kendall. The Therapeutic Goods Administration warns parents to ensure that all gel cold packs are kept out of reach of children and that if contents are ingested, they should attend the nearest emergency department for medical assessment.