FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
What should I bring for a dip?
Minimum requirements are a towel and a plastic bag to sit on. Optional includes:
- A swimsuit
- A warm hat
- A yoga mat
- A picnic blanket
- Your own tea
- A hot water bottle
- Swimming shoes or neoprene socks
- Friends and family
- A donation for the Kältehilfe charity
- Hammers, pry bars or axes in case of ice
Do I need to prepare for my first dip?
No. you can come to your first dip with nothing but the will to try something new. Maybe thats even the best way to do it!
Do cold showers help with ice dipping?
Some people say yes, some say no. Cold showers surely increase your willpower and mental fortitude in the face of uncomfortable things, but do they really help with ice dipping.
What safety measures need to be taken?
Most importantly, you should never go ice dipping alone and you should always go with someone who is experienced. Our Saturday morning sessions are a great way to have your first dip in a safe environment.
Never swim out perpendicular to the shore. If you feel the need to swim, do so parallel to the shore, ideally where you can still stand.
If there is ice on the lake/ river, be extremely careful. Never dive under the ice, even for very short distances. Never walk on ice unless it's been certified as thick enough by the relevant authorities. Never make a hole in the ice where other people might walk/skate. Never break ice with your bare skin, it can cut and scrape and you can get frostbite or nerve damage.
In case of an emergency contact the fire department (112) immediately.
What are some of the health aspects/dangers that need to be considered before or during dipping?
Generally it is advisable to consult with a medical professional if you feel unsure about the health aspects of ice dipping. Since Ice Dippers started, we’ve never had any health related incidents and hope it stays that way.
Consult a doctor beforehand. We do not have any experience with this.
Some of our members including our dip leader, Jakob, never eat breakfast before going ice dipping and never had any issues with that. We don’t have any experience with multi-day fasting and ice dipping, but know that some people do it and seemingly don’t have issues.
There are known issues with cold exposure and heart disease. Cold air inhalation can precipitate heart attacks. If you have a history of heart disease please consult a doctor first.
Consult a doctor beforehand. We do not have any experience with this.
Some people have said that they get itchy skin after a dip. This never affected the entire group, only individuals and was at different locations. It's safe to say that 95% of dippers never have any issues. There is such a thing as a cold water allergy (Cold urticaria). If you have any issues during or after a dip, tell the dip leader and if necessary consult a doctor.
How is the water quality of the lakes/rivers?
In general the water quality of the lakes is very good. Most of the locations where we dip in Berlin are swimming lakes during the summer. During the winter, the biological contamination load in all surface water reservoirs will decrease substantially, making them even cleaner.
The water quality is closely related to the water temperature, in the winter, the water is too cold for many of the bacteria and algae that make the Spree "unsuitable for swimming" during the summer.
After strong rain events, the water quality in the Spree worsens because some of the runoff ends up in the Spree. In recent years, a lot a rain retention basins have been built around the city and this effect is getting better. To my knowledge this runoff starts to enter the spree around Osthafen, so Stralau is still relatively good. The Rummelsburger Bucht however is strongly contaminated with arsenic and should never be used for dipping.
Check some the research done by this advocacy group:
Or these very helpful links:
Senatsverwaltung für Umwelt, Mobilität, Verbraucher- und Klimaschutz
Is ice dipping allowed?
It is not allowed to swim anywhere in the state of Berlin except where it is explicitly allowed. That means mostly only the Strandbäder, eg Strandbad Wannsee or Strandbad Plötzensee and even there, only in the marked areas. There are a total of 39 "allowed" swimming locations (check this map).
Anyone swimming anywhere else, basically does so at their own risk. Check this interesting article.
Ice Dippers events have never had any issues with the Ordnungsamt, but we’ve heard that some people got fines, though this was usually due to people bathing in “Nature Protection Areas” or because they were not respecting COVID-19 regulations.
How do you protect nature?
Unfortunately, some of the shore around Plötzensee and Weißensee has been destroyed because of all the bathers that go there during the summer. Ice dippers should be very careful how and where they enter the water and make sure they do not do so in a “Nature Protection Area”. In Weißensee some or the lakeshore may be fenced off soon. Ice Dippers should never climb into any area that has been fenced off.
What breathing exercises do you do before a dip?
Every leader probably does this slightly differently. Maybe in the future we’ll have a section here for each dip leader. The technique that I use is based on Wim Hof’s “Inner Fire”. Do these exercises while sitting on the floor cross legged or lying down.Round 1:
30 deap breaths, focus more on taking a lot of air in very deeply, the exhale should be relaxed and not forced. Make the last few breaths extra deep, then empty your lungs completely in a long, relaxed exhalation. Hold your breath as long as you feel comfortable. If you’re experienced, push yourself a little to hold your breath longer. When you feel like you have to breathe again, take one very deep breath in and hold it for about 10-20 seconds. While you’re holding your breath, strain all of your major muscle groups. Take a few normal breaths to equalize and wait for round 2 to start.Round 2:
Same as round 1Round 3:
30 deap breaths, focus more on taking a lot of air in very deeply, the exhale should be relaxed and not forced. Make the last few breaths extra deep, then empty your lungs completely in a long, relaxed exhalation. Hold your breath with empty lungs and do as many push ups as possible. Keep going until you can’t do anymore push-ups or until you feel like you need to breathe again. When you feel like you have to breathe again, take one very deep breath in and hold it for about 10-20 seconds. Take a few normal breaths to equalize.
Now you’re ready to dip!
What is “the drop”?
When you’re in the water and even for a short time afterward, you don’t actually feel so cold. Sometimes, several minutes after you’ve gotten out of the water, “the drop” hits you and you feel incredibly cold all of a sudden. This happens to new ice dippers and experienced ice dippers too and is nothing to be afraid of.
What is your affiliation with Wim Hof
There is no official affiliation with Wim Hof. Before it was the Wim Hof Method, it was called inner fire. Since that time, Wim Hof has changed his method slightly several times and now also certifies official Wim Hof Method trainers and Instructors. The breathing exercises that we do before a dip are based on some iteration of this Method, though they may not be exactly what Wim Hof teaches today. To date, none of the Ice Dippers team has done one of these training qualifications, but we have up to 5 years experience Ice Dipping here in Berlin and have always incorporated breathing exercises with dipping.
What studies exist about ice dipping?
This video is an excellent summary of what the provable effects of ice exposure and the Wim Hof Method are:
Doctor Dissects the Wim Hof Method
Do you have a code of conduct?
We have a general code of conduct for our events:
And a specific code of conduct regarding our chat groups:
- No alternate events/locations Saturdays mornings.
- PM-ing anyone in this group unsolicited and will get you removed!
- Alert the admins in case of any unsolicited messages!
- On topic conversations only, No Spam.
- No promo of other groups or organizations!
- Zero politics!
- Don’t invite group members to other groups!
- Keep the respect & the cool vibes! 🤗.
If you still have a question for us, feel free to send us a message at email@example.com.