How to Keep Water Buckets from Freezing: Guide to Keep Your Water Accessible in Cold Weather

How to prevent water from freezing banner.How to prevent water from freezing banner.

Preventing a Freeze!

In cooler climates, it can be difficult to prevent water pails and buckets from freezing. Ensuring water does not freeze for animals or plants is essential. Prepare for cold temperatures with these tips that can assist with those harsh winter conditions. 

pail heaterpail heater

Understanding the Issue

Water freezes at 32° Fahrenheit (0° Celsius) and a gallon of water is estimated to freeze within 2-4 hours. Frozen water buckets can cause an issue for livestock or other living things that require water in cold outside temperatures. When water freezes, plastic buckets can crack. So what are the best ways to keep water from freezing in colder temperatures?

Methods to Keep Water Buckets from Freezing

In order to preserve water in buckets from freezing, there are a few ways you can accomplish this. Try these different techniques when you need your water to not freeze in outdoor conditions. 

Insulation Techniques

When placing water buckets outside, considering where you place the buckets will affect how fast it freezes. Insulating buckets and pails will be essential for the longevity of preserving your water. 

Heating Techniques

Heating Bucket

Heated buckets are ideal for keeping water from freezing. Pail and bucket heaters improve the flow and temperature of contents within. They will ensure water does not freeze.

Pail and bucket heaters protect and evenly distribute liquid within your bucket. The flow of your water within the bucket will keep temperatures constant to make sure it doesn't freeze. 


A pail heater evenly distrbutes heat to imprive the flow of the contents within it. These are ideal for cooler climates when you need to prevent contents from freezing.

Additionally, using a small heater can allow the bucket to not freeze. Placing it near the bucket can reduce the chances of your water from freezing. To prevent the bucket from overheating and catching fire, it's best to place the heater at least 18” away from the bucket. 

Pail heater.Pail heater.

DIY Solutions

Try these at home solutions to prevent water from freezing. 


Placing a tire and rocks in the sun can absorb warmth during the day and can be a DIY way to help prevent water from freezing. Place your tire in the desired location for your bucket. Place the bucket in the center of the tire, with rocks around the bucket. 

Tires for preventing freezing water image.Tires for preventing freezing water image.


Using a blanket can help prevent freezing, especially if a blanket is also used within a tire to be used as an extra layer of protection. This will not completely stop freezing but can help.

Automatic Watering

In the case you are using these buckets for animals, automatic watering units would allow a steady flow of water to the bucket. This could help prevent water from freezing at a faster rate since watering units may have an internal heating source and a constant flow of water.

Automatic watering systems to prevent freezing image.Automatic watering systems to prevent freezing image.

Tips for Choosing the Right Method

Another helpful tip for storing water outside is to fill a plastic water bottle with 2 components, water and a cup of salt. Placing that bottle into the bucket will help prevent the water from freezing. The salt acts as a barrier from water molecules turning into ice.

Throughout the year, you may need to adapt to the different climate changes that occur. Preparing for the cold early will ensure you have everything ready to go for the harsh winters. 

white pail.white pail.

Addressing Common Concerns

In order to make sure water is accessible in cold climates, there may be issues that arise. Keeping in mind the proper precautions that are needed to try and prevent water from freezing is important. Conisder the location of electrical for hooking up a heater. The location of the buckets is also crucial. Is it outside completely? in a barn or indoor space with no insulation? All of these factors will determine how well water is kept from getting frozen.

Saving Your Water

Preventing water from freezing can be a difficult task in cool climates. Choosing the best method to decrease the chances of your water freezing will be best for your needs. Consider these tips when you need to store water buckets outside and prevent the water from freezing. For more information on buckets and pails – Call 630.629-6600 or email us at