Ice packs not only help us keep things cold during transportation, they also help us out with our medical needs. From bumps and bruises to childhood and adulthood, they’ve been here to make our lives a little easier and keep our food cold. It may feel like they’ve always been around, but it may surprise you that cold gel packs are a relatively new invention!
From relieving pain to keeping food chilly, ice has always played a specific purpose. Let’s take a look at how the modern ice packs we use daily came to be!
In the 19th century, ice was chipped away from nearby frozen lakes and shipped around the world by sea for various uses. Those who were lucky enough to live in areas with cold winters had the benefit of being able to chip away ice from the frozen bodies of water on their own. During the summertime, they relied on other parts of the world that were experiencing their winter to ship some ice their way. If you happened to live in a warmer climate, shipping ice to your door was a costly–yet necessary endeavor.
Frederic Tudor, known as the “Ice King,” was the first to use ice in a way we still use everyday. At the ripe age of 22, Tudor realized people who live in warmer climates would benefit from having access to ice, so he began harvesting frozen cubes by cutting blocks out of a lake in Boston, Massachusetts during the frigid winter months. Tudor would go on to buy his own ship and sail his icy cubes south to the Caribbean islands.
A mere decade later Tudor created a business model out of his ice delivery idea and finally began to make a profit from his invention. He continued to transport ice around the world until he died in 1864.
The first electric refrigerator with an ice cube compartment was released in 1923. However, fridges didn’t quite take off with consumers until more than 20 years later in 1945 and most standard models did not have the capacity to truly keep ice stable.
To combat the annoyance of melting ice cubes and spoiled foods a man named Albert A. Robbins patented the first instant ice pack in 1959.
Robbins specialty pack was specifically designed for keeping food and drinks cold for a longer period of time. The ice pack would stay at room temperature until the cooling effect was activated by carefully cracking the package in order to mix the contents inside. Unfortunately, the ice packs weren’t reusable, so while they were great for short trips, they weren’t reliable, cost-effective, or ideal for long trips.
These days there are many companies that have joined the ice cold pack market. Modern innovations, including longer lasting ice packs have been created for medical needs as well as specially designed options for cross-country shipping.
Are Ice Packs Toxic?
Most ice packs made today are non-toxic. However, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to ingest the liquid or gel that you find inside. Depending on the ice pack, ingesting the ingredients could cause side effects including, mouth irritation, blood pressure issues, trouble breathing, and more. If you suspect that ice pack materials have been ingested, you should contact Poison Control right away at 1-800-222-1222.