DIY Equine (Horse) Insulated Water Buckets
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This is our 2nd winter with horses – last winter was pretty mild and there were a few days where I needed to deal with frozen water buckets in the stalls but not entirely frozen solid and not for more than a few days. This winter is horrid – absolutely horrid. The full 5 gallon buckets are freezing solid as a rock, in the barn, within 4 hours. Water troughs outside a definitely totally freezing. Trying to keep fresh water available for the horses has been a monumental task. All this and sometimes the pipes are even frozen so just trying to fill anything with water is a task. It will be really nice when this total freeze is over. In the meantime we are headed into some of the worst temps in decades in the next few days – deadly temps. The horses will be fine in the barn as long as they have water! If you need help creating your insulated water buckets then call your local vet and ask one of the veterinary technician specialists if they can assist.
I saw this project on Facebook and knew I had to try something and it totally works. After 12 hours my horses buckets are still not frozen and it is 4 degrees outside – a little bit warmer than that in the barn but there is no heat in there so it definitely is still far below freezing. It is an easy project and less expensive than purchasing insulated buckets. You can easily wrap the buckets you are currently using however, in my case I did buy a full set (8) of new buckets. My reasoning is these will become the horses’ winter buckets and – the insulation needs to be applied in warmer temps and on dry buckets. I couldn’t take my horses current water buckets for hours to work on them, leaving them with no water. So now I have a set of summer buckets and a set of winter buckets. Perfect!
NOTE – we were expecting a major storm and I had a very short period of time to get these 8 buckets created to help the horses survive the storm. Yes, the photos could be better but we were in emergency mode…
Supplies needed for this project (8 buckets):
Water buckets – We use flat back 5 gallon water buckets
Small bubble packing bubble wrap – 175 foot roll
Bubble insulation – (2) 25 foot rolls
Gorilla Tape – (2) rolls approx 70 yards
Duct tape – (3) rolls approx 135 yards
The first step is to make sure your bucket(s) are dry and you are working in warmer than 32 degree temperatures (ideal conditions for the Gorilla Tape).
Wrap each bucket with 3 layers of the packing bubble wrap. Our buckets are flat back and tapered so we needed to keep the bubble wrap from sliding down but securing the bottom with a small tab of duct tape in several strategic spots as we worked. You can either wrap the bubble wrap around three times OR triple up the bubble wrap and wrap it around once. Whatever you prefer to do. Because of the slipping and sliding we found it better to triple up the bubble wrap FIRST then just wrap it around once.
The next layer will be the bubble insulation – you only need one layer of that insulation around each bucket.
Tape the top of the layers around the top of the bucket with Gorilla Tape – just below the lip – to secure the layers and block any air from leaking through. The Gorilla Tape is also a better moisture barrier than Duct Tape. Then do the same process for the bottom of the bucket making sure to allow your bucket to still stand up flat without tipping over and being off balance. Gorilla Tape is much more difficult to rip with your hands than Duct Tape so plan to use scissors.
The final step is to tidy everything up and secure it all with rows of Duct Tape. Start at the Gorilla Tape at the top of the bucket and go all the way to the bottom layer(s) of Gorilla Tape. There should be no bubble wrap or insulation left showing. Duct Tape can easily be ripped with your hands.
It won’t be pretty if you are using tapered and/or flat back buckets. It doesn’t need to be. Just wrap it all on and secure it all. The horses don’t care about beauty and the ice certainly doesn’t discriminate based on bubbles in the tape.
Then just bring them out to the barn, fill them and be thrilled knowing your horses will not suffer with frozen water anytime soon!