The Best Cold Plunge Tubs for At-Home Ice Baths

Experts weigh in on the benefits and risks of soaking in 50-degree water—and recommend the best devices for diving in.

cold plunge tub
(Image credit: Blue Cube)

Ten years ago, Dear Media co-founder Lauryn Bosstick had jaw surgery. It provided a solution to her chronic teeth grinding but, as she’ll tell you, it left her face swollen and puffy for the greater part of two years. Antibiotics, facial massage, clean eating—she tried it all in an effort to bring down inflammation. In the end, the most productive tactic was at-home cryotherapy, during which she would immerse her face in a large bucket of ice. “That’s when I first dipped my toe into cold therapy,” Bosstick tells Marie Claire. Now, she qualifies as a cold therapy connoisseur. 

Not only did she launch her company, The Skinny Confidential with an ice roller, but she also commits daily to spending more than ten minutes in a 50-degree cold plunge tub. (She keeps the $16,000 Blue Cube Bath Cold Plunge Tub in her backyard and a $9,000 The Plunge All-In inside her home.) The benefits, she says, are well worth the investment. “Right away I have more energy and way more clarity. It’s like when your windshield is foggy and then you clear your windshield—that's exactly how the best cold plunge tub experience feels. I notice less inflammation and I feel refreshed,” she adds. 

@katemackz

Im so bad at ice baths, who should i make do one with me next?

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Bosstick’s infatuation with jumping into freezing cold water (and sharing the goosebump-inducing process for her 1.4 million followers to see) is part of a greater wellness industry fascination. Scroll through social media and you’ll find your friendly neighborhood influencer jumping into the best cold plunge tub at Alo Gym—or in their backyard. Searches for “cold plunge tubs” have nearly tripled over the course of the past year, and wellness hubs like Remedy Place are adding ice baths to their menu of services. 

But is tossing your body into freezing cold ice water a momentary trend, or does investing in one of the best cold plunge tubs actually pose health benefits? Ahead, Marie Claire breaks down the benefits and risks of trying at-home cryotherapy, plus the seven best cold plunge tubs recommended for anyone ready to dive in.

What Is a Cold Plunge Tub?

Whether you want to call it an ice bath, a cold plunge tub, or cold water immersion, the principle of the practice remains the same: “You expose your body to extremely low temperatures, typically ranging from 50 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit, and stay in for at least one to three minutes,” says Dr. Yana Delkhah, board certified emergency medicine physician and Longevity and Functional Medicine practitioner. 

Tubs come in different shapes and forms—a freezing cold bath counts just as much as a dip in a frigid ocean or temperature-controlled pool at a bathhouse. That said, there are now dozens of cold plunge tubs on the market that provide an easy, customizable ice bath experience that allow you to reap the benefits from the comfort of your home, backyard, or garage. Some come equipped with specific heat controls or cooling mechanisms, while others require a little more DIY work and assistance from ice cubes and a hose. 

What Are the Benefits of a Cold Plunge Tub?

The benefits surrounding cold water immersion are slightly complicated. The actual medical evidence regarding their efficacy is a smidge inconclusive—especially as it pertains to reducing inflammation, notes Dr. Delkah. However, these types of studies take time and money to execute, and sports medicine experts and longevity doctors swear by the process's very legitimate effects.

ice floating in water to illustrate a guide to the best cold plunge tubs 2024

Ice baths are reported to reduce inflammation, boost circulation, and speed up recovery.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“When the body is exposed to cold water, blood vessels constrict, redirecting blood flow to vital organs and increasing circulation. This can have a positive impact on the cardiovascular system, boosting heart health, and circulation,” explains Dr. Jonathan Leary, a concierge wellness doctor and the CEO and founder of Remedy Place. “Cold plunges have also shown to stimulate the release of endorphins and dopamine, which are natural mood enhancers that contribute to a sense of well-being and reduced stress.” 

Cold plunges are particularly popular among athletes and exercise aficionados, as they can be extremely beneficial for recovery. “Literature shows that ice baths can help resolve soreness and swelling, which decreases pain,” says Dr. Delkah. Dr. Leary also notes that his patients report faster recovery in their muscles and joints following cold water immersion. 

The Best Cold Plunge Tubs

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Are There Risks With Using a Cold Plunge Tub?

Jumping feet first into freezing cold water is not for everyone. Anyone with a heart condition, a circulation disorder, who is pregnant, or taking certain medications should steer clear of the experience. Cold therapy has an impact on blood flow, and therefore, can impact circulation. 

”Older adults may have decreased thermoregulation capabilities and a higher risk of hypothermia,” Dr. Leary notes, so they should proceed cautiously with cold immersion. That’s not to say ice baths are off limits for this demographic, however the plunge might have to be a tad more mild. 

How Long Should You Stay in a Cold Plunge Tub?

“Always listen to your body. It will let you know when it's too much,” says Dr. Leary. “The duration of time you should stay in a cold plunge can vary based on your individual tolerance and experience level.” 

a person in an icy pond to illustrate the best cold plunge tubs of 2024

Reaping the benefits of a cold plunge don't need to be expensive. Jumping into a cold ocean or lake, or taking a freezing shower will provide similar benefits.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As a rule of thumb, start out with a short period of time (around one minute) and work your way up until your body can handle the cold. Most doctors and specialists recommend staying in a cold plunge for one to three minutes. “Personally, I've found the best success with my tub at just under 40 degrees, for 6 minutes, but it’s important to always do it at your own pace and listen to your body,” adds Dr. Leary. 

How Much Does a Cold Plunge Tub Cost?

The best at-home cold plunge tubs can easily cost a few thousand dollars, with some priced upward of $20,000. That in mind, you can reap ice bath benefits for free. “There's this misconception that you have to get like this $20,000 ice bath, that's not what it is. You can implement cold therapy in little ways that are affordable,” Bosstick says. “You can start with a bowl of ice and stick your face in it, you can ice roll, or you can take a freezing cold shower.”

Meet the Experts

dr yana
Dr. Yana Delkhah

Dr. Yana Delkhah, a medical doctor with a passion for making a difference in people's lives, has over eight years of training at top-notch New York City hospital systems such as New York Presbyterian Hospital and Albert Einstein Medical Center. She honed her expertise as a medical director in trauma, emergency medicine and critical care. Along with that, she had the privilege of serving as medical director of simulation, where she taught other medical professionals and staff to improve medical education and patient care. Her enthusiasm for functional and preventative medicine, as well as non-invasive cosmetics, led her explore a wide range of biohacking tests and protocols, making it possible for me to provide exceptional medical care to her patients. At present, she works as a concierge doctor serving New York City and the Hamptons. 

dr jonathan leary
Dr. Jonathan Leary

Dr. Leary is a world-renowned Concierge Wellness Doctor and founder of Remedy Place. At the intersection of design, holistic self-care, and human connection, Dr. Leary and Remedy Place are architecting a profound shift in the landscape of the $10+ trillion healthcare industry. Responding to a surge in demand from a market poised for exponential growth, Remedy Place has launched a global events division and introduced a collection of holistic technologies, ushering in a dynamic new era of self-care.

Beyond his leadership at Remedy Place, Dr. Leary is a sought-after speaker in the health and wellness arena. His practice and expertise have been featured in top media outlets from Vogue to The New York Times, alongside a range of corporate advisories and appearances including Delta Airlines, Cannes Film Festival, and The Global Wellness Summit.

Dr. Leary continues to innovate and inspire with an unwavering commitment to transforming lives and shaping industries.

Beauty Editor

Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and shares the breakdown on the latest and greatest trends in the beauty space. She's studied up on every ingredient you'll find on INCI list and is constantly in search of the world's glowiest makeup products. Prior to joining the team, she worked as Us Weekly’s Beauty and Style Editor, where she stayed on the pulse of pop culture and broke down celebrity beauty routines, hair transformations, and red carpet looks. Her words have also appeared on Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, Delish.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Samantha also serves as a board member for the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME). She first joined the organization in 2018, when she worked as an editorial intern at Food Network Magazine and Pioneer Woman Magazine. Samantha has a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. While at GWU, she was a founding member of the school’s HerCampus chapter and served as its President for four years. When she’s not deep in the beauty closet or swatching eyeshadows, you can find her obsessing over Real Housewives and all things Bravo. Keep up with her on Instagram @samholender.