How to Chill a Drink Quickly

Two Methods:Chilling with Salted Ice WaterChilling with a Wet Paper Towel

We've all been there. You've invited a few friends over — or even house full of them — and have realized that you haven't chilled your drinks right before your guests arrive. What you have on your hands is a true party emergency. So, how do you chill your drinks in time for you to be able to chill out with your friends without feeling like a bad host? Read on to find out.

Method 1
Chilling with Salted Ice Water

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    Fill a thick glass bowl with water and ice. The thicker and more insulated the bowl, the better. It should be able to trap the cold water and ice mixture. Add as much ice to the water as you can, but not so much that it prevents the entire beverage container from being submerged into the water. A 50/50 mix of ice and water is a good rule of thumb. If you just need to chill one or a few drinks, this is fine. If you have to chill many drinks, you're better off using a cooler or even your bathtub.
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    Add a pinch of salt to the water. A small handful should do. The salt will disassociate into its constituent sodium and chloride ions. The water molecules, being polar, will orient themselves accordingly. This is work, and work requires energy which comes from thermal energy in the water, thus reducing the ambient temperature further.
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    Put your drinks in the ice water solution and rapidly stir them. Stirring the drinks will help the heat transfer out of your drink and into the ice solution more quickly.
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    Wait a two minutes. The temperature should have fallen dramatically in a very short time. If it needs more time chilling, stir the remaining drinks in the salted ice water for another minute or two.
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    Pour your cold drink into a glass. It should now be about the perfect temperature to quench your thirst -- and the thirst of your guests. Just be careful: if you put in a carbonated drink like a soda, give it some time to settle before you pour it.

Method 2
Chilling with a Wet Paper Towel

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    Fully wet a paper towel that's large enough to fit around your entire drink. If your drink is small, you may only need to use half a paper towel; if your drink is larger, a full one or even two.
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    Wrap the wet paper towel completely around the drink. Try to make sure the paper towel stays wrapped around the drink.
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    Place the wrapped drink in the freezer and wait approximately 15 minutes.
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    Remove the drink from the freezer and enjoy your ice-cold beverage. The paper towel will be partially frozen; keep it on your beverage if you want it to continue cooling down the drink. If you are using the drink in presentation, remove the wet paper towel before serving.


  • Make sure to at least rinse the can top in clean, potable water before you drink the beverage. The salt that may be left on the can lid may cause the beverage to taste very salty.
  • Smaller containers will chill more rapidly than large containers because the smaller ones have much more surface area in contact with the cold water per unit volume. Smaller containers will also chill more rapidly because they contain less liquid.
  • This method is amazingly better than merely adding ice cubes to the glass of warm coke. Placing ice cubes directly into the drink causes it to become diluted and lose its fizz and snappy flavor.
  • If you don't have salt, then plain water plus ice is still more effective than ice alone at chilling containers. This is because liquid water is a better heat conductor than air (many times better), and the ice by itself can't cover much of the container's surface.
  • If you do not have extra clean water available, using ice alone and stirring it and the drinks around in the ice is still better than just putting the drinks in an ice chest with ice still in the bag with the drinks sitting on top or in a refrigerator. Air, which is less dense, can not absorb and conduct as much heat away from the containers compared to water.
  • So to have cooler air circulating among the pieces of ice, try putting the bowl in a bag and tie it closed, and then swirl the bowl a little every 15 to 30 seconds to stir the drinks.
  • If you want to chill wine quickly, the saltwater convection trick may take too long due to the size and thickness of the bottle. Try pouring a couple glasses worth in a plastic sandwich bag, sealing it with as little air as possible, and laying it on the ice in your freezer.


  • Carbonated cans may become pressurized after rapidly stirring in the ice water. Opening cans before the carbonation has a chance to settle may cause an overflowing mess.

Things You'll Need

  • Beverages in cans or bottles
  • Bowl
  • Water
  • Ice cubes
  • Salt
  • Thermometer (Optional)

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