How to Keep Chickens Water from Freezing in the Winter Without Electricity?

We can all agree that winter brings people together for connection, love, and warmth. But if you rear chicken, the cold weather comes with a set of unique challenges that you need to be prepared for. One of these challenges is having to keep chicken water from freezing.

Water freezes when the molecules holding it together get so cold that they can no longer hook onto each other. So, if the temperature of your chicken water is below the normal freezing point, expect the liquid to turn into a solid.

Having frozen water in your coop can be quite challenging for your flock, which needs water to survive. Here’s what to do to keep the water from freezing during winter without relying on electricity.

1. Use Ping Pong Balls in the Water Tub

A ping pong ball is a light hollow ball that is usually hit, thrown, or kicked in games such as table tennis. It bounces off easily when thrown on hard surfaces. But did you know that you can use ping pong balls to keep chicken water from freezing?

Ping pong balls float on water and can break the tension on the water surface, slowing down the freezing process. Though they can’t completely prevent water from freezing, you can count on them to buy more time before you replace the water.

As the wind moves the balls around, the tension on the water slowly breaks, reducing the chances of freezing. Your birds will also trigger the balls to move as they drink from the water container. Note that this trick can only work if there is a breeze and stable temperature changes (rather than sudden temperature changes).

Be sure to place the water container with ping pong balls in an open place free of shelter, which may keep the wind from blowing the balls. You should also check the water before it freezes and change it as soon as it turns to ice.

2. Place the Water in Black Rubber Tub

Using large, black rubber tubs as your water holders has to be among the easiest methods to prevent chicken water from freezing. Unlike plastic waterers that lose heat quickly, deep, black rubber tubs can slow the whole freezing process down.

According to science, black objects attract heat from the sun and the surroundings. In this case, they can hold onto warmth for a long time, making them perfect for use as water holders during winter. Even more, the rubber lining on the tub can retain heat for longer, giving your birds a reliable supply of warm water in cold weather.

You can place the black rubber tub outside when the sun is out to heat up the water and prevent it from freezing. Placing it on a dark surface such as gravel can also boost its heat-absorbing capabilities, which are vital to the water temperature during winter. Other ways to improve the tub’s heat absorption capabilities include adding an insulator to an old tire and then placing the tub at the center.

Black rubber tubs are a great alternative for galvanized metal waterers, which freeze water quickly the moment the surrounding metal gets cold. They also have a relatively larger surface area compared to the galvanized metal waterers, keeping water unfrozen for a long.

3. Keep the Water Tub in a Small Greenhouse

A greenhouse or sunroom can help keep your flock’s drinking water from freezing in the cold weather if you have one in your backyard. It can be a professionally-made or a DIY greenhouse. For the DIY sunroom, plexiglass or old windows can help create the conditions needed to keep water warm.

The role of the greenhouse here is to magnify rays from the sun and disseminate it to the water container. You can even place a black rubber tub with water in the sunroom to keep water unfrozen for a long time.

If the sun rarely shows during the cold season, you can warm up the greenhouse with objects such as a heat sink or thermal mass. With these objects, the sunroom will absorb heat during the daytime and release it to the components housed inside during the cold evening or nighttime hours. As a result, the objects will raise water temperature by a certain degree reducing the chances of freezing.

You can create a thermal mass for your greenhouse with one-gallon plastic containers filled with water three-quarters full. Adding black food coloring to the water or painting the plastic containers black can boost their heat absorption capabilities.

4. Place the Water Tub in the Coop

Placing the water tub in the chicken coop is a sure way of ensuring that your flock gets enough water for their survival. Birds like chickens need water to digest food, grow, produce healthy eggs and regulate body temperature.

Besides guaranteeing your flock of water supply, placing the containers inside the coop can keep the water from freezing during winter. It takes less than an hour for the water to turn solid if the temperatures outside are below the freezing point.

Ensure that you have plenty of space inside your coop to accommodate the feeders and waterers at the same time. You should also check on the waterers frequently to ensure that the water stays unfrozen and change it when it begins to thaw. Other benefits of keeping the waterers inside include improved access to water and reduced chances of dehydration in your flock.

5. Change the Water Frequently

It’s easier to change your chicken water frequently if you have smaller waterers. You can do it first thing in the morning and at least twice or thrice a day. Either way, be sure to swap the existing bowls of water with fresh ones to give your flock a constant supply of clean water and prevent the water from freezing.

However, for this approach to work, you need to have a flexible schedule or get someone to do it for you. The weather conditions in your area and the coop’s location with respect to your house will also determine the practicality of this approach. While it can take extra work and time, this method is basically free and highly effective.

6. Place the Water Tub in a Sunny Spot

Leaving the water tub in the sun can help prevent the water from turning into ice. Since water and air are transparent to sun rays, the rays will warm up the tub before getting to the water. It is the same thing that happens in our surroundings, where the sun warms up the ground first before getting to the air above it.

The heat from the sun will be distributed uniformly around the tub and water. So, if you leave your waterers outside when it’s sunny, expect the water to heat up as long as the sun shines.

7. Use Double Walled Containers as Water Tub

Double-walled containers prevent hot heat from getting away from the water and cold from encroaching in. The outer layer has the same temperature as the surroundings, but the inner layer will retain the temperature of the water. It is because the layer of air between the container walls serves as an insulator.

Investing in double-walled containers can help you have a warm supply of water for your flock. You won’t have to heat up the containers to keep the water unfrozen. As a result, you get to maintain optimum conditions for your flock’s growth, survival, and reproductive health.


With these seven simple hacks, you can stop or delay chicken water from turning into ice and guarantee your flock a constant supply of fresh, warm water during winter.

All of the options provided are relatively inexpensive and easy to set up in your coop and within your yard and work for every chicken farmer, including beginners. Review each one of them and stick with what works for you and your flock.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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