For a long time I ice dyed without a rack. I knew that people used racks, sometimes. I thought it would be fun to experiment with one. But I never did.
Finding a good rack for my thrift-store-scrounged containers just didn’t feel easy.
When I finally tried a rack, it was because I was actually getting serious about my results. I’d had plenty of ok projects, but not nearly enough oh-my-gosh-that’s-amazing ones, and I was finally ready to put in the effort and really nail this ice-dyeing thing. I found a wire basket at a thrift store that (sort of) fit one of my containers, and I did a sample piece to see if it made a difference.
I never wanted to go back. I needed racks for ALL of my containers, RIGHT NOW.
That was easier said than done. But once I really started looking, I realized I’d had options all around me. Here are some of my favorites:
Thrift stores. Although it wasn’t entirely easy to find things that were the right size, I eventually did get several things from thrift stores that worked pretty well. They don’t fit as well as my custom-built racks, but if you don’t feel like making your own, you might try this avenue. Depending on the thrift store, they might be in kitchen items or in the organization/storage area.
Wire mesh. My second rack was an old piece of wire mesh, cut to size and with the edges bent down to make legs. This was definitely a DIY option, but it was pretty quick and fit into the container I’d chosen for it perfectly. If you aren’t ready to commit to that yet, just lay a stiff piece of mesh or chicken wire over the top of your container.
Shelf racks. At supermarkets and dollar stores, in their organization and storage section, I can often find stackable wire baskets or shelves. The baskets often work as-is. The shelves are trickier, as they generally have folding legs. Intended to expand your storage area, their legs are often far too tall for my containers — but there’s no need to extend the legs. Leave them folded up and they’ll still give you an inch of clearance in the bottom of your container. Better yet, they’re usually placed right near the plastic storage containers, so if you’re looking for both you can match their sizes before you buy.
Gardening supplies. If you’ve ever walked through a garden center, you’ve probably seen trays for holding young plants. Some of them are solid and retain water; some are just a mesh. The combination of the two can give you a great setup, and because the sizes are standard, they’ll often fit together well. These are easiest to find online, because they’re usually supplied to nurseries, not individual gardeners. The one trick is raising the mesh up away from the tray underneath; I like to use slices of PVC pipe. Speaking of which…
Slices of PVC pipe. If you have a table saw or know someone who does, this is an incredibly cheap and easy DIY option. A table saw will slice through PVC with ease; just set up a fence to cut pieces roughly 1.5 inches deep. You can stand them on end in the bottom of your container, and the nice thing is that this gives you a way to fit any container, no matter the size, with an instant “rack.” I like larger pipes, but I’ve cut up various random sizes we had around the house; choose whatever works for you. Cut a bunch while you’re at it, so that they’re guaranteed to all be the same height.
Disposable bakeware. This one isn’t my idea, but I saw a post online where someone used a disposable baking pan and punched holes in the bottom. I haven’t tried it myself, and it might be tricky to ride that balance where you take out as much material as possible while still making sure it can hold the weight of the ice, but it’s an interesting option.
Toaster oven racks. This one is more of a stretch, but my husband and I have gone through probably three toaster ovens in our married life, and fortunately one of them had been re-purposed as a play oven for the kids. (With the cord cut off, naturally.) I stole the rack from its tray and it fit well into one of my containers, creating a low but serviceable rack. The kids never missed it.
What have used for a rack in dyeing?