Saving Money

Everything You Need To Know About Buying Ice


Refrigerators with a built in ice maker are fairly common. But in the event that you don’t have one, or if you’re hosting a large gathering, you might find yourself stopping somewhere to pick up a bag or two of ice to fill coolers or create cold drinks. Those bags of frozen water can seem expensive, and there’s some mystery as to how much will be enough. In the interest of helping Cleverdude readers be informed ice buyers to get as much value from their bag of ice as they can, I decided to do some research.

Common Sizes

The most common sizes for bags of prepackaged bags of ice are 5 and 20 pounds. While other sizes can be found occasionally, this post will focus on these two sizes.

How Much Water Is In a Bag Of Ice?

I purchased a 5 pound bag of ice and let it melt. From my bag of ice, I got approximately 10 cups of water. Therefore, a cup of water (8 fluid ounces) weighs half a pound. You can use this to determine how much water you would get from any size bag of ice. For example, a 20 pound bag of ice would yield 40 cups of liquid.

How Much Use Can I Get From My Ice?

I took an average sized low ball drink glass and filled it with ice as many times as I could using five pounds of ice as if I was going to make a drink in it. With five pounds of ice, I was able to fill the glass 15 times. That works out to 3 drinks per pound. Using this information, you can determine the number of drinks you can make with any amount of ice. For example, a 20 pound bag of ice could be used to make 20 x 3 = 60 drinks (assuming fresh ice for each drink).

How Much Does Ice Cost?

I checked prices at few common places where ice is available for purchase. Obviously price and availability will vary based on your location, but this information gives a good indication as to how much you might expect to pay for ice as well as the variance you might find.


  • 5 Pound Bag: $1.47
  • 20 Pound Bag: $3.98

Convenience Store:

  • 5 Pound Bag: $1.79
  • 20 Pound Bag: $4.99

Liquor Store:

  • 5 Pound Bag: $1.50
  • 20 Pound Bag: $4.50


  • 5 Pound Bag: Not Available
  • 20 Pound Bag: $2.79

Buying a single bag of ice at one location vs another likely won’t break your budget. But if you’re buying many bags of ice for a large gathering, or one that involves keeping a keg cold, those savings can add up quickly.

The next time you’re in the market to buy ice for any reason, hopefully this information will help you accurately predict how much you need, as well as save some money on your purchase!

How about you Clever Friends, how often do you buy ice? Do you ever find yourself with too much, or too little?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin

1 Comment

  • We camp a whole bunch over the summer, so we buy a lot of ice to keep things that don’t fit in our small fridge. I think the smaller bags are typically around 7 pounds (not 5) and how often we buy depends on how hot it is.

Leave a Comment