Keeping Water Thawed with No Electricity


In the Brooder
Oct 24, 2015
I live in northern SC and there are days/nights where my water has been frozen (I am more concerned about the days since I work full time and cannot check the water every few hours). I do not have electricity in my coop so I was wondering if anyone had tricks to keep water thawed on those rare cold days we have.


10 Years
Oct 16, 2010
Rubber livestock bowls work well. If your birds have a run and sunlight gets to it then the black bowl will keep it thawed well down to 20's F. At the very least they maintain liquid longer so the birds are well watered long past noon. Then before they roost one flips the bowl and stomps out the ice to replace water. They'll drink up prior to roosting so you can bring the bowl in the house when returning from locking up their coop. Bring fresh water in bowl out in morning to set in run when you open the coop.

The black bowl keep water thawed longer and they too get into the cadence of watering selves completely in morning then being provided water prior to roost at night.


9 Years
May 2, 2012
Here are some things that occur to me that will help slow the freezing of water, alone each should delay the freeze, using more than one tip should increase it even more. These ideas all assume that you put out fresh water in the morning that is in a container that was kept in the house to warm it prior to being put outside.

If you put a fresh bowl of water in the run mornings before going to work, a thin stainless dog bowl will freeze faster than say a thick ceramic dog bowl. The increased mass of the ceramic bowl means it will hold more residual heat from inside. The amount of water in the bowl will also add mass, hopefully slowing the freeze. I think the black rubber livestock bowls mentioned above are pretty heavy.

As was mentioned above, the darker the bowl and more sunlight it receives will increase the solar heating slowing the freeze.

anything you can do to block the wind from the water supply will slow the removal of the residual heat from being indoors. but it will be self defeating if your wind block also blocks the sunlight thereby removing the solar heating advantage.

if you have access to some 2" thick rigid foam insulation, you could cut out the foam so the water dish fits down into the foam so only the top the the bowl and water is exposed to the air. You'll have to protect the foam from chicken pecking but the foam should help preserve the indoor warmth for quite awhile.

If you can provide some type of clear shelter for the water dish, it will help with wind blocking and solar collecting. I'm picturing something like I see bulk olives being dispensed from in the grocery store. The clear bubble tops with an access hole for the birds to enter.
For a cheap easy to make option, I'd try a the square 5gal jugs that fast food places get their deep fry oil in. They are opaque so would allow some solar heating, they would block the wind and also help hold in the residual indoor heat. You could lay it on it's side and cut an access door in the top of the jug(now on it's side) and place the water dish inside the chamber.

So my thoughts for an ideal would be the oil jug with the foam insulation covered by a thin piece of wood or metal painted black to stop pecking and a heavy thick dark bowl set down into the insulation. Place this watering station in the sunniest spot and give it fresh water in a warm bowl each morning.


Sep 3, 2015
First off, I have looked for pictures of what I am about to describe but can't find any. I think I read this on this forum and used it once.
I now use a light bulb in a cinder block to keep my chicken water warm but this post if for NO Electricity.
What I saw before and tried was building a 2x4 frame to hold two gallon milk jugs, side by side.
But an opening in one of them for the chickens to drink the fresh water. The other milk jug will not be cut and still have it's lid is filled with warm or hot water. The hot water insulates the cold drinkable water for a long time.
If you are indeed needing thawed water for just a little amount of time, this might be the trick for you.
I hope this helps


Crossing the Road
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
Holts Summit, Missouri
Shelter / wind-block can be setup to concentrate sunlight on bowl. Black surfaces exposed to sun around the water bowl's general location helps as well. That can give an additional couple of degrees. Also having hay actually in water can help the heat is then concentrate near top instead of heating entire volume of water as it would if going through water to bottom of bowl first. When temperatures are too low to prevent water freezing, consider adding oats (grain) to water. Birds will be able to break up ice while pecking at the oats facilitating water intake.


Sep 25, 2015
Void where prohibited.
Put a few rocks on your wood stove at night, and toss them into the water in the morning?


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