Try this ONE step to keep your hens water from freezing this winter! (No electricity required!!)
Chickens Homesteading

The Only Tip You Need ~ Keep Your Chickens Water From Freezing

How To Keep Your Chickens Water From Freezing

 

If you’ve read any of my previous posts about winter chicken care, you’ll know that I am a firm believer in NOT adding electricity to the chicken coop.  You can read Why We Don’t Add Lights To The Chicken Coop for more details on why not.

So, in the snowbelt of Northwestern Pennsylvania, how have I been keeping my chickens from going without fresh water all winter long??

For the past few years I have been giving myself a lot of work!  I have two 3 gallon waterers that I have been swapping out throughout the day.

I’ve also been bringing them in every night to thaw them out completely.  And let me tell you, if you forget to bring them in at night those babies are rock solid!!

This was not fun!  I don’t have a thick layer of down to keep me warm out there, and I was getting pretty sick of it.

But thank you Lord!  I have found a new way!  AND I don’t have to raise my electric bill or compromise my beliefs of keeping electricity out of the coop.

So what is this magic trick that keeps my waterers from freezing at subzero temperatures?  SALT WATER!!

Try this ONE step to keep your hens water from freezing this winter! (No electricity required!!)

 

No, I am not giving my chickens salt water.  That would be bad, very bad!

I am making salt water bottles to insert into the waterers.  One simple step. That’s it.

Find a 20 oz. bottle (mine was Diet Coke, yes I know not healthy, but we all have our vices), add 1/4 cup salt and fill with water.  Close up your bottle and place it in your waterer.  That’s it!!

The first day that I tried this, the real feel got down to -7°F (real feel).  I checked on it throughout the day and it never once froze!

There was a thin layer on the top of the dish but the chickens easily broke through it to get a drink.  And just to be daring, I left it out all night.  And guess what?  No ice!!

 

Try this ONE step to keep your hens water from freezing this winter! (No electricity required!!)

 

Pin Me For Later!Try this ONE step to keep your hens water from freezing this winter! (No electricity required!!)

Try it out and let us know if it worked for you!  What tips do you have to help your flock out in winter?

Looking to raise dual purpose chickens like us? Grab a copy of Dual Purpose Chickens: Raise ‘Em Like Your Grandma Did for tips from brooder box to butchering!
This post was shared onOur Simple Homestead Hop

  • I live in northern New England, and it’s been in the negatives for a few days last week. This is a great idea! I’ll have to try it. I was just giving them a rubber dish of water & taking hot out a couple of times a day. I only have 7 birds, so no big deal… but if I oculd keep it from freezing without installing a heater in the bucket that would be amazing! I have a bucket with drinker nipples i’d love to keep going in the winter (it’s horizontal, not the hanging on the bottom ones).

    • http://achickandhergarden.com

      It is a lifesaver! On extreme days, if I notice it’s not doing as well, I just increase the salt ratio!

    • Sorry… doesn’t work when temps are well below freezing. I’ve tried it several times with increased amounts of salt. Bottom line… the fresh water has a higher freezing point than the salt water, thus the salt water stays liquid while the fresh water freezes despite BOTH remaining at the same temp.

      • http://achickandhergarden.com

        It may not keep it completely from freezing in extreme temps but does slow the freezing down, which then decreases the amount of work if you do not want to add electricity to the coop.

      • Surely a bottle of vodka would work as that doesn’t freeze!

        • http://achickandhergarden.com

          I like your thinking Elaine! Don’t forget to mix yourself a Bloody Mary first!

    • I bought a $40 (cdn) water dish you plug in. Keeps it from freezing. Best $40 I’ve spent in a long time.

    • I dont get it. Whats a closed bottle of salt water got to do with the water in the pan? Are you saying put the closed bottle in the water they drink? Sorry, its not clear enough for me yet

      • http://achickandhergarden.com

        Yes I put the closed bottle of salt water into the tank of the waterer. Some amazing people gave scientific explanations for this in the comments. Unfortunately I’m not a scientist lol just a homesteader that happened to stumble across this awesome tip!

  • Do you know the science behind this ? My fear is that the salt water is leaching out from the interior bottle.

    • http://achickandhergarden.com

      The reason for it helping to keep your water from freezing is that salt water has a lower freeze point than fresh water. The higher the salt concentration the lower the freezing point. The bottle also sinks so it’s submerged in the fresh water. The salt in the bottle it not leaching but the temp. of the bottle is basically tricking the fresh water.

      • The temp of the salt water would be the same as the fresh water… The salt water wouldn’t freeze though.

        • http://achickandhergarden.com

          This is the best I can explain, as I’m not a scientist just a homesteader sharing my experiences. The reason for it helping to keep your water from freezing is that salt water has a lower freeze point than fresh water. The higher the salt concentration the lower the freezing point. The bottle also sinks so it’s submerged in the fresh water. The salt in the bottle it not leaching but the temp. of the bottle is basically tricking the fresh water.

    • Cold air draws heat from the fresh water which would normally allow it to solidify into ice, but since the salt water has a lower freezing point heat flows from it into the fresh water keeping it liquid.

      • http://achickandhergarden.com

        I love this explanation! Thank you so much, it makes it so much easier to understand!

  • http://Facebook.com/SilverSpiritFarms

    Try this at -40 and let me know!

    • http://achickandhergarden.com

      At -7 real feel it worked for me, and from what I’ve researched on it the colder the temps the higher concentration of salt… It may not work for -40 but it will slow down the freezing.

      • http://www.achickandhergarden.com/chickens-water-from-freezing/

        Is that -7 degree F or C? Salt concentration larger than 23% won’t dissolve in the water. That is equivalent to -21 deg C or -6 deg F. So, below -21 deg C (-6 deg F) the fresh water and salt water will both freeze. The reason the fresh water doesn’t freeze at 0 deg C is because, as the temperature falls below 0 deg C (32 deg F) the heat in the system is being taken from the salt water not the fresh water. The freshwater at 0 deg C needs to overcome the heat of fusion to freeze which is 80 kcalories/kg. But the container of salt water gives up heat as the temperature keeps dropping at about 0.94 kcalorie per deg C. And entropy demands that it is preferable/easier for that heat to be extracted from the salt water degree by degree instead of the fresh water for a one-time big grab of 80 kcalories/kg. But, when the air temperature drops below about -21 deg C they both will freeze.

        • http://achickandhergarden.com

          Hi Russ! This was -7F Real Feel or windchill but the temp that day was around 10F.
          Thank you for sharing!

          • http://achickandhergarden.com

            Sorry Chris, the actual temps were well below freezing. I also run a daycare and playtime outside is dependent on “Real Feel” and I’m used to speaking in those terms. Sorry again if for my phrasing, just a homesteader sharing my experience in my terms. 🙂

  • Could you put a 2 liter in goats, dog waters?

    • http://achickandhergarden.com

      Absolutely! Just increase the amount of salt in the bottle. 🙂

  • I have 2 waterers-frozen solid–sitting near the furnace in my garage right now. We’ve had negative temps for several days & nights. Can’t wait to try this tomorrow!!

  • http://breidablikfarm.weebly.com

    I have heard about this for my horse waters but not for a chicken water, and I have yet to get one to try :/ I did read though that you can’t use regular table salt. I don’t remember the name of the type that was suggested but it was a water softening salt for wells???
    Have you heard this? What type of salt did you use?

    • http://achickandhergarden.com

      That’s interesting! I did not hear that. I used table salt with iodine. I might have to do another experiment now!

  • I can hardly wait to try this! We live in WA and occasionally have below freezing temperatures. We have goats and chickens. This could be a huge help!

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/10206057670000144/

    This makes no sense to me. I understand that the salt water has a lower freezing point, but that doesn’t change the temperature of either the salt water or the fresh water. Please explain the science or the logic of this to me. It doesn’t make sense to me.

    • http://achickandhergarden.com

      This is the best that I can answer as far as the science, unfortunately I’m not a scientist (wish I were sometimes!) just a homesteader sharing my experiences! The reason for it helping to keep your water from freezing is that salt water has a lower freeze point than fresh water. The higher the salt concentration the lower the freezing point. The bottle also sinks so it’s submerged in the fresh water. The salt in the bottle it not leaching but the temp. of the bottle is basically tricking the fresh water.

  • Didn’t work here in NH. It’s 2 degrees outside and much warmer in my coop and the water is frozen solid.

    • http://achickandhergarden.com

      I’m sorry if this didn’t work. Increasing the salt concentration helps on the colder days. I have left my water out twice with the tray slightly freezing but on the colder nights I do bring it in. I have not had any problems during the day though.

  • http://twitter.com/MinSkow

    -8F here in Maine this morning – logic tells me that salty water at 32 degrees will be liquid while unsalted water will freeze. Normally I change out the water twice a day in the winter, But, I’m going with a heated metal base and metal waterer this year. The girls have earned it with their egg sales and I coudn’t be happier with my unfrozen water for the first time in all my years of having hens.

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/1333099196753241/

    No one said what kind of salt? Table salt iodine salt canning salt salt used out side.

    • http://achickandhergarden.com

      Hi Arlene!

      I used table salt with iodine. 🙂

  • Pretty good idea- I’m in Fairbanks Alaska and we’ve been at -20 for weeks and a spat of -30, so I usually use a metal container and bang the ice out every day and give them fresh water every day- if I’m gone for the weekend I use an oil pan heater underneath it-

  • It’s a matter of freezing point depression. Depends on the molality of the solution (one expression of concentration) and the number of ions produced by the solute as it dissolves. A molecule of salt produces 2 ions when it dissolves in water. Sugar would produce only one. So if equal concentrations of sugar and salt were dissolved into water, salt lowers the freezing point twice as much as sucrose. A molecule that dissociates into three ions would lower it 3x. There’s an equation for calucation the amount it lowers the freezing point. Another factor is the solvent – in this case water. Different solvents are affected differently.

    This isn’t really any different than spreading salt on the road to “melt” the ice. It actually lowers the freezing point. Only to a certain point though – an example would be when it gets too cold for the salt to work like we e seen here in the Midwest this past weekend.

    So- inside the Coke bottle, the salt water may not freeze depending on concentration. Any liquid contains more thermal energy than it does as a solid. That thermal energy in the salt solution inside the soda bottle helps the fresh water in the surrounding bottle to not freeze. Again, there are limits to how low the temp can go before it fails.

    • http://achickandhergarden.com

      Thank you so much Lisa!

  • Aren’t you concerned about the chickens ingesting bpa from the plastic?

    • http://achickandhergarden.com

      Both containers are food grade plastic, the bottle and waterer. From my understanding, bpa is leached with extreme heat and the salt does not increase the temperature just lowers the freezing point.

      • thank you

        • http://achickandhergarden.com

          No problem! 😊 Thanks for stopping in and checking out my blog! 💕

  • I have several heated water bowls that I use during the winter for our chickens, dogs & cats. I had a few that quit working so I thought I would try your idea with the salt water in the 20 oz bottle, but it didn’t work for me…the water bowl was still frozen solid this morning with temps in the low 20’s?

    • http://achickandhergarden.com

      Hmmm, did you use the correct ratio of salt? I have had the tray freeze on a chicken waterer at night time, with the tank remaining thawed but have not tried this with water dishes.

  • In the winter, I use a $15 heated dog watering dish. It’s excellent and I don’t fuss. The girls like it fine.

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/10154244657037794/

    We have had electricity running to our coops for 10+ years without incident. We do not use heat lamps except for ailing birds, but do use the heated waterers. Keep your cords zip tied up and out of the bedding, and there won’t be any problems. Don’t use extension cords with tears in them, etc. I would rather use electricity than methods that are not dependable, and may leave my birds without water. If you are around and check them multiple times daily, it could work for you, but we often are away for the weekend, and this would not work for us.

    • http://achickandhergarden.com

      Thanks for sharing Sarah! I work from home we have fellow chicken friends nearby who help to take care of them if we are away. 😊

  • Why not just make a cookie tin to keep their water from freezing? Mine are just inside the door, keeps the water from freezing, the electric used is very minimal, and they cost so little to make! A cookie tin, you buy them on sale after Christmas and can get any size. Buy a light socket with cord, make a hole in the tin side, put the socket together inside the tine, add a lightbulb, I use 40W, and plug the socket cord to a plug in or extension cord. Dimple! And added plus is the little bit of heat radiated out. I also have a low wattage heat panel for the Silkies to snuggle against when it gets below 25 degrees here.

    • http://achickandhergarden.com

      Those are great ideas Rebecca! At our home though (even though hubby is an electrician, or maybe because) we do not want electricity in our coop and try to find ways to avoid it. You can read bit more about why in my post Why We Don’t Add Lights To The Coop.
      Thanks again for other great ideas though!! 🙂

    • No electricity at my allotments!

  • http://www.onegracefilledlife.com

    Hi Staci! I will definitely have to try this! We live in the mountains, where it routinely gets in the teens to single digits (or colder) at night. Brrrrr. Thanks for posting this! 🌻🐓

  • http://homesteadthedesert.com/

    We live in Arizona although it is much warmer here we do get freezing temps as we are near the mountains, that being said this trick works great in this climate. But please keep in mind we rarely see temps below 28 degrees. Thank you for your post.

  • http:www.skipthebag.com

    This is a great tip! I’m thankful that I don’t have to use it since we live in Florida so there is minimal risk of getting to or below freezing. Thanks for sharing on the Waste Less Wednesday Hop!

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/1374834259227809/

    In one of my breeder buildings alone I have 16 breeding pens, two very large growout rooms, and two large brooder rooms. I keep a 55 gal food grade barrel of water with a floating stock tank heater in it. Only have to fill it every few days. In sub freezing Temps I totally switch to the small black rubber bowls from TSC. They don’t freeze as fast as the thin plastic waterers. Just flip over and stomp the ice out and refill. It has saved me a ton of time winter watering. Much faster than dealing with iced up waterers. As we have a few hundred birds, I detest frozen waterers.

  • We we tried this with gallon jugs in a 10 gallon Rubbermaid for the horse and it didnt work at all. Will try it in the chickens small water bowl and see if it helps.

    • http://achickandhergarden.com

      I’m not sure about for horses, but the salt concentration has to be high enough. I have read that if you are using it in larger containers, don’t fill they bottle completely so that it will float. 🙂

  • https://plus.google.com/109252231024036137283

    I tried this last night. Here in Georgia we got down to 18 degrees. Unfortunately something went wrong. I used the 8oz bottles with about 2 tablespoons of salt in the gallon size chicken waters similar to the one shown on your site. The only part that didn’t freeze was right where the bottles were inside the tank part of the waterers. All of the water in the reservoir part of the waterers was frozen solid. I had to redo all of the waterers and noticed that of the salt in the 8oz bottles had settled at the bottom. I did shake them up before placing them in the waterers the day before. What did I do wrong? We are expecting more low temps tonight and I have around 20 waterers I need to have ready. We have a lot of chickens. 🙂

    • http://achickandhergarden.com

      Hi Cathryn! Maybe the larger bottle helps by covering more space in the container. I also left about an inch of the salt bottle empty so the bottle almost stands up straight. The concentration needs to be high enough that all of the salt doesn’t dissolve. I hope this helps!! ❤️ Staci

    • Hi Cathryn! Maybe the larger bottle helps by covering more space in the container. I also left about an inch of the salt bottle empty so the bottle almost stands up straight. The concentration needs to be high enough that all of the salt doesn’t dissolve. I hope this helps!! ❤️ Staci

  • Lumnah Acres just did an experiment with this! See how it worked for them!

    https://youtu.be/xp5OMWZyZhk

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/10154073670401574/

    It works very well here in England !

    • I’m so glad! Thanks so much for stopping in!

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