The Ice Is Melting! How Long Will Ice Last In An Ice Bucket?


Ice bucket full of ice with tongs on top surrounded by a cocktail shaker and mason jars

While ice makers provide instant ice, they can be too expensive. Worry not, you can have access to ice even when outdoors with the best ice buckets

But how long exactly can an ice bucket hold ice before it’s completely melted? In general, ice retains its frozen state for about 4 to 18 hours. Of course, there are other factors involved.

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What Affects the Melting Duration of Ice in Ice Buckets


Metal ice buckets are a better conductor of heat than plastic ones. This means that it transfers heat energy more quickly. So, ice in metal ice buckets tends to melt faster compared to those placed in plastic ice buckets.

Size and Type of Ice

The bigger and clearer the ice, the slower it melts. Luckily, there are different methods of making clear ice and some even make use of the best ice trays.


By definition, insulation is a barrier that makes heat transfer reduced. Plastic ice buckets are mostly insulated or double-walled, that’s why they keep ice frozen for longer.


If an ice bucket is kept covered, the ice melts slower because the cover effectively blocks the heat from entering the ice bucket.

Tips on Making Ice Last Longer in an Ice Bucket

Stainless steel ice bucket with ice

  • Use light-colored ice buckets

This applies to plastic or styrofoam ice buckets. Light colors absorb less heat, so in a way, it prevents heat energy from getting in contact with the ice.

  • Wrap the ice bucket in a towel

If your ice bucket is not insulated, you can improvise by wrapping it with a dry and clean towel. This extra layer protects the sides of the ice bucket from absorbing the heat in the environment, thereby delaying the melting of the ice.

  • Line the ice bucket with aluminum foil

If you only have a metal or stainless steel ice bucket on hand, you can line the interior with aluminum foil before putting it in the ice cubes. 

Aluminum foil has a reflective surface that keeps the temperature at a consistent degree, so the ice remains cool and intact. Every time you open the ice bucket, the foil directs heat or light away from the ice.

  • Place the ice bucket in a low-temperature area

Aside from the tips mentioned, the one preventive measure to keep ice intact is to place the ice bucket in a cool area or away from direct sunlight.


Ice buckets are practical, but they don’t keep ice frozen forever. However, there are tips and techniques you can apply to make ice last longer in an ice bucket. 

Tired of using ice buckets? check out these fun ice bucket alternatives that might make your life easier. If you found this topic helpful, let us know in the comments

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  • Elina Brooks on

    I found your tip useful when you told us to line the ice bucket with aluminum foil to keep the temperature at a consistent degree to let the ice remain cool and intact. I’m opening a resto-bar next month, and since I’m mostly serving cold drinks to my customers, I’ll be needing ice for them. I’ll keep this tip in mind while I look for an ice company to call for cubed ice deliveries soon.

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