Freezing Water Bottles

When freezing water bottles to prolong cool temps in my cooler, the bottles and/or caps sometimes split? Are some brands of bottles more resistant to splitting than others? Any tips for freezing water bottles without calamity?

Don’t fill them all the way.

I buy the 16 oz Dasani bottles in 6 and/or 12 packs. I’ve never had any of them freeze and expand to the point of splitting.

If you are filling and freezing your own, of course, leave a good inch of more of space near the top to allow for expansion.

I agree
If you buy them prefilled or don’t over fill them, I don’t think you will have a problem. That is how we keep our main cooler cold when camping. We freeze in our deep freezer a case of medium sized Aquafina and pack our food in that and frozen juice pouches instead of ice. We’ve kept meat and such fresh (nearly frozen)for 9 days in a 5 day cooler. As the week goes on, we remove a few and defrost them for drinking, and pack for our paddling trips.

fill and freeze in layers
Freezing in layers minimizes bulging - start by filling only ~ 1/3 full and freeze that much, then add another layer and put the bottle back in the freezer until frozen, and so on. Sometimes I try to slant the bottle at first to spread out the first layer that expands. This may be overkill, but I haven’t had any bottles split since doing the layering. Only problem is remembering to start the process enough ahead of trip time!

Use Platypus “bottles”. They can be frozen or boiled repeatedly.

Two choices
I use two liter soda bottles but leave plenty of space for expansion. But the best container I’ve found is the one they give you for the “human draino” you have to drink before going for your video physical (you over 50 types should know about this). It holds a gallon and fits well in coolers.

Try this:
When you fill the bottle with water, squeeze the sides of the bottle (assuming it’s one of those handy square bottles) and then put on the cap with your third hand, or have your wife help you. Then when the ice expands, the bottle has enough “reserve” volume to handle the expansion. It works for me.


I’ve not frozen a Nalgene before, but that’s what I would suggest. I’ve boiled water and filled them up to keep warm while camping in below freezing temps. I’m guessing it can have a similar result. The steam has no place to escape, and I can see where it tried to push up on the cap as it made a bit of a ring where it was stressed.

Anyway, since it made it through multiple cycles of boiling, I assume freezing would work too … just maybe fill it 2/3 or 3/4.

Just last night.

– Last Updated: Jul-22-07 10:56 PM EST –

Last night I poured about an inch out of a Gatoraid bottle and froze it. This morning I took it out of the freezer and it was frozen solid to the top of the bottle. I used it on a mountain bike ride and had slushy cold gatoraid for 4 hours.

Remember When?
Milk used to be delivered to your home and in bottles. Maybe not, but if you forgot to bring it in on a cold day it would freeze and a frozen tube of milk would raise out of the top with the lid still on the tube…

Seems like a long time ago…

you made me look

– Last Updated: Jul-23-07 9:28 AM EST –

I put 6 gatoraid bottles in the freezer a couple of days ago. They are frozen solid. The plastic bottles are fine. I put water bottles in the freezer all the time without reducing the volume of any of these prior to freezing. I've had no problems with expansion causing the plastic to split or break open.

It was a LONG time ago…

Freezing water expands approx 10%
by volume. You figure it out.



glacial ice
fill 'em to the top. you want the pressure. it makes the ice freeze under pressure and actually will be colder. (I was told by a scientist guy)

I have been doing it for years. nalgene, pop bottles, whatever. cool to see a 2L pop expanded, under pressure.


unscrew partially before freezing.

Insulated biking bottles
Saturday night I mixed an electrolyte drink inside an insulated bicycling water bottle (Polar something-or-other), put it in the freezer overnight, and inspected it Sunday morning before taking it paddling.

The bottle was not expanded at all. Best of all, the contents stayed cold a long time. I transported it inside a cooler to our paddling location (50 minutes drive). Then inside my hot cockpit on a 97-degree day. It had barely begun to thaw by the time I first tried to drink from it about 30 minutes later. I had good, cold, iced beverage through 14 miles of paddling.

Mmmmm…slushy gatorade
Slushy gatorade…good stuff!

easy enough of a solution…this is what I do, b/c even freezing a nalgene, the pressure will distort and weaken the cap.

stopped freezing bottles
Freezing water, in my opinion was…the greatest! I have frozen aquafina water bottles, no name water bottles, and also my nalgenes, and other polycarbonite bottles and some strange things have occured. The water in various bottles tastes so awful we cannot drink it - various bottles at various times and used good filtered water in the reusables and the others had store bought water in them. Ironically my sister showed me an article on pc bottles #7 and better choices because of Bisphenol-A (BPA) leaching into the water. I am not one to get too alarmed over all the health scares but I believe this one is a real concern as I have tasted the water in these bottles (same type of bottle/same water but at different times one was awful and the other ok) frozen - a couple of times it was so bad that my daughter spit it out and with different ones so now unfortunately, i am replacing with the not so nice high density polyethylene bottles and using ice and a cold pack. Just something to think about in case this has happened to your frozen water bottles.

None are deemed totally safe but i will make a “hopefully” better choice for my family.