DIY Water Thawer.
Keep Your Chicken’s Water Thawed this Winter!


Last year was my first winter with backyard chickens.  Now, my chickens are illegal so I don’t know if it makes them any different than legal chickens or not, but these things just couldn’t get enough drinking in.

You’d think being illegal, and kind of on the down low, they’d want to abide by all the rules.  Fly under the radar and all that.  But no, all they wanted to do was drink and they were LOUD about their desires.

Every time I turned around one of them was screaming that they wanted a drink.  Straight up.  No ice.

Which in the middle of winter in Canada is a difficult thing to serve.  Ice kindda comes naturally to us.

Every morning I’d have to go outside and replace their frozen water.   Every morning I cursed about this to the chickens, the neighbours, the fella and some of my more sympathetic indoor plants.

Then someone, somewhere mentioned something that sparked an idea.  I can’t remember who it was or what they said, but I thank them because  now I have water for my chickens that never freezes and always stays in it’s original liquid form.

FOR FREE! There was absolutely NO cost at all to this homemade water thawer.

Just take a look at this snappy, 30 second video to see the breaking news about how you can do it too.



You can buy heated chicken waterers but they aren’t cheap. Plus it’s another thing to have to store. When you live in a house built in an era where closets weren’t actually invented yet, storage is a high priority.
Up until World War 2 the only thing the gays had to come out of was the root cellar. It was a difficult time.

The only precautions you have to take are making sure the lights and the extension cord you use, are specifically for outdoor use.
Also, don’t use a heated base like this with a plastic waterer. Only the galvanized steel type.

Now fly, be free of the shackles of ice this winter.

Your chickens, neighbours and indoor plants will thank you for it.


  1. Jason says:

    I’ve just learned (the hard way) that nearly all outdoor/Christmas lights are now LED, which offer a vast improvement in energy efficiency because they do not produce very much heat. Thus, they don’t work so well for these little projects where you actually want to produce heat!

    I’m just going to get the heated water bases for about $45. Lots of people have more creative ideas which are fun to read about, but they don’t seem to be worth the time to put together.

  2. Alex says:

    Keeping the Chickens Water from FREEZING in the winter.

    Our water supply is made out of PVC pipe that runs up the side of the coop and has an elbow with nipples for the chickens to get water. It makes it very convenient because we don’t have to go into the chicken run to add or change the water.

    On Monday I woke up to find the entire water supply frozen and knew I had to do something quick.

    I spent about 5 hours researching on what other people use to keep the chickens water from freezing in the winter time and the majority of the blogs suggest using heat tape or a submersible “pond” type heater.

    I didn’t like the idea of spending close to $50 and have to wrap the PVC pipe with the heat tape and the submersible heater was too big for a 3″ PVC pipe.

    I got to thinking about what else I could use and the light bulb came on. Lol I had a fish tank heater that I use to use when I had a tank set up. I took the heater and dropped it in the PVC pipe and for the last 3 days the water hasn’t frozen over. :-)

    My only CAUTION about using a fish tank heater is that the heater must stay below the waterline otherwise you’ll damage the heater. So each morning I’m making sure the water supply is full to the top and I haven’t had a problem with the water level falling below the heater.

    Hope this can help others and you enjoy the chickens!!!!

  3. ArtP says:

    I wonder if a string of lights could be used in place of heat tape on a pipe w water nipples Still would need to wrap w insulation.

  4. cheryl says:

    I couldn’t open the video so don’t know what you did. Let me know because I am one that has an expensive heated dog bowl (raised), and would love an option! Thanks

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cheryl – The video is working so I’m not sure why you couldn’t open it. Maybe try from a different browser? Basically what it shows is putting a small string of outdoor Christmas twinkle lights in a metal cookie tin and setting your waterer on top of it. The warmth from the lights in the tin are enough to keep the water thawed. Just raise it all up on a bucket. ~ karen

  5. Vivian says:

    Karen, I’m your ‘neighbour’ in Peterborough. I have the drip type waterer (up on stilts so the hens can peck to drink). Even with a bird bath heater the drips are freezing. Do you think the Christmas lights wrapped around the plastic barrel (from Home Depot) will work? I’ll try and let you know. Any other ideas for me?

  6. Colleen K Speroff says:

    I’ve spent the entire day searching for a cheap way to keep the bird bath warm. Right now I’m going out every hour or so to thaw and refill it with a gallon of hot water. Plus, I read that in these temps, if birds take a “dip” in the warm water, their feathers will become encrusted with ice. Laying sticks across the top of the warm water, leaving a hole for the birds to drink, was a suggestion. The suggestion of the chicken waterer with christmas lights would prevent them from bathing but allow them to drink. The only thing is I would have to buy a chicken waterer. Although I’m from Tennessee and the temps probably won’t stay this low for long, I don’t relish going out every hour to refill the bird bath.. Anybody out there have some good ideas about my predicament?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Colleen – I haven’t tried it but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with another type of bowl or bath on top of the tin with the lights. The only thing you have to make sure is that it conducts heat (like the metal). Mind you, you probably aren’t dealing with the -25 I’m dealing with here in Ontario, Canada, lol. Good luck! ~ karen

  7. Joni says:

    i like this idea..i was looking for a way to keep water thawed for my garage kittys..(my husband is a miser of electric-lol) and when my sons were little we came up with the idea of keeping the water dish near the area the heat lamp in the barn was hanging down to keep the chickens/duck warm in harsh temps. so they would huddle near it and the heat from the light and the chickens kept the water thawed. ducks are not as hardy if they do not have others to huddle with or fresh water to keep the oils clean in their feathers. and husband/dad was happy that we made do with one heat lamp instead of two or three like we

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