Homemade Laborade

Icy Cold LaboradeI’m always looking for ways to make nearly everything at home.  Many pregnancies ago, my midwife gave me a recipe for “Labor Aid”.  I changed it up a bit and made up my own version.  It worked so well for me during labor!  My husband wanted to try it, and the midwife told him, “Sure – ANYONE can drink it!”  It kept him going on hot summer days here in Florida when he was working outside for 8 hours clearing brush, building barns, and installing fences for our animals.  Usually after a Saturday like that, he’d come inside, sit down, and fall asleep in a chair.  Don’t get me wrong – he’d been drinking plenty of water!  Then one Saturday I kept him supplied with ice-cold Laborade (renamed since he told me it tasted like lemon-lime Gatorade).  He drank about 1.5 gallons.  When he came inside I told him I needed to do some quick shopping.  He said, “Let’s ALL go!”  We loaded up and went, and had a great time!  I was amazed at the energy he had.  He simply said to keep him supplied with Laborade.


So, here’s the basic recipe to make one gallon:

1 cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
2 tablespoons lime juice (can omit – but is the key to great taste)
2/3 to 1 cup sugar (or 1/3 to 1/2 cup honey)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Water and ice to make 1 gallon

Keep refrigerated.


Dave, children, and friends taking a Laborade break


  • Used to use white sugar for this, but now am switching to honey, so you may need to tweak the measurement.
  • Sea salt is best for extra trace minerals.  I use Real Salt or Celtic salt.
  • The original recipe called for one crushed calcium tablet, but it left “floaties.”  Perhaps a powdered calcium/magnesium supplement would work instead, from a natural source.
  • A friend of mine commented that perhaps potassium bicarbonate would be better than sodium bicarbonate.  I never followed up on this, but am told you can get it from drugstores.

Mass production: This worked so well for our family, that the children would drink it when they were outside helping Daddy.  We were going through gallons and gallons!  It tasted better freshly made.  So I developed a concentrate to make the process faster.

Laborade concentrate (will make a total of 4 gallons Laborade):

1 quart lemon juice
1/2 cup lime juice
2-2/3 cup sugar (or 1-1/3 cup honey)
4 teaspoons salt
DO NOT ADD BAKING SODA YET. I did the first time, and learned not to. 🙂
Water to equal 8 cups.

Stir well.  The extra water helps the sugar to dissolve, and makes measuring the concentrate easier.  You should now have 8 cups of concentrate.  Wash your hands, and watch out of the corner of your eye to see if your children taste it – the results will be amusing, I promise!  I used empty plastic bottles to hold 2 cups of concentrate which would make a gallon of Laborade.  Lastly, I posted a little chart to make smaller amounts, since we discovered that the laborade didn’t taste as good if leftovers were saved till the next day.  If using outside, keep in a cooler with ice.

For the amounts below: add concentrate and baking soda, then add water and ice to equal desired amount.

  • One gallon:  add 2 cups concentrate, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 gallon: add 1 cup concentrate, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 quart: add 1/2 cup concentrate, 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

Of course, if you need four gallons – pour all 8 cups of concentrate and 2 teaspoons baking soda into a 5 gallon bucket (we have one that we made into a dispenser by adding a spigot).  I will usually add a little more water and ice to make almost 5 gallons when we have get-togethers on hot days – everyone loves it and no one gets heat exhaustion.

One last tip – When my children are sick, I will make one quart of Laborade, water it down to make 2 quarts, and use it like an electrolyte solution.

Linked to:
Works For Me Wednesday
Frugal Friday
The Happy Housewife
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27 comments to Homemade Laborade

  • I have never seen this before. Very cool! Thanks for sharing!

  • Pam

    Can’t wait to try this! My son LOVES Gatorade but I just don’t buy it very often…well pretty much never! Thanks for posting it.

  • Great idea! Thanks for sharing! My friend is due with a baby; I’m passing this on to her!

  • What a great idea. There are definitely days and projects where water simply isn’t enough to satisfy and replenish what your body is losing. I’ll have to give it a try sometime.

    Thank you, and thanks for stopping by,

  • Tina

    What would the measurements be for an 8 oz. glass ?

    • Good question! I had to double check my measurements and do some math for that one… 🙂 If making it from the concentrate, you would use 2 T. concentrate and a pinch of baking soda, then fill with water to equal 8 oz. I’m going to add this in to the list.

      If you’re making it from scratch for one 8 oz. glass, the measurements would be:
      1 T. lemon juice
      splash lime juice (or omit)
      2 t. to 1 T. sugar (or 1 t. honey)
      dash of salt
      pinch of baking soda
      water to fill to 8 oz.

  • This is a fantastic tip! My sons play sports and get so zapped out in the FL heat. My husband asked me to get some Gatorade for them, but I was concerned about all the icky coloring and additives. I’m looking forward to trying this!

    Do you always use freshly squeezed fruit for your juices?

    • Cardamom

      Hi, Stephanie! I just use bottled lemon juice for this. Occasionally we will get lemons from our tree or in bulk on sale and juice them for this, but that is rare.

      • Thanks for the answer! I thought maybe you were blessed with citrus trees. We are not, so I know how expensive lemons and limes can be, especially in bulk. I’ll put bottled juice on my shopping list.

  • Thanks for the recipe, Kimarie! I’ve been using Morton’s Lite Salt in our since it has sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium all together. I’ll be adding the b.s. and the lime juice to the very next batch. They’re all working outside today, and while it’s not that hot (only 88F @ 1:40pm – not too bad for south Tx!) It is humid and the work is HARD!!! At least that’s what they claim. 😉

  • What a great recipe! My husband commutes to and from work and grad school (even in the hot DC summer!) everyday, but Gatorade and Coconut water are so expensive.

  • I’ve been loving this stuff for 2 years! Thank you!! Here is my recipe for Laborade by the glass, which is the way I almost always make it.

    • Cardamom

      I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the recipe, Becca! Thanks so much for the “by the glass” link (and for the steady trickle of referrals from your site). 🙂

  • Great recipe – imagine if it had something alive in it: http://bit.ly/9SxKcY

  • Kit

    I make something similar, I squeeze a bunch of lemons and limes and finely grate some of the rind. I put the lemon and lime juice, raw sugar or honey, some water and some unrefined sea salt in a pot and boil this for a while. When this has reduced by about half I add a heap of chopped mint and let it simmer for a further 5 minutes, strain it and can in small jars over a hot water bath. Just a few drops of this concentrate with a pinch of calcium magnesium powder makes a great rehydration drink that tastes a bit like a virgin mojito. I make about a years worth at a time and because I can it, it lasts a year.
    Im using about the same measurements as for your concentrate but only about half the water, this ends up being a fairly thick syrup type product after it has been reduced. I usually add as much mint as I can cram in the amount of liquid being used because we love mint.

  • Cassie

    How long do you suppose the concentrate would last in the fridge?

  • Hi. I am going to try this as a midwife told me I should drink a natural hydration drink. I have made some over the years with my own patented guess-gulp-go advanced personal technology. I didn’t feel like doing the first part this time, so I binged and here you are! I am going to try a slight variation. For the sweetener, I will add fruit juice concentrate. (probably most often will be white grape) I will first try 3 or 4 oz aprox. (1/4 to 1/3 of a 12oz can). If I feel it is needed, I may see about 6oz (half a can) but that sounds excessively sweet to me. I will later look into the Morton Lite salt your other reader mentioned. I am so glad I found this because I sometimes drink Recharge but it costs too much for the 1Qt. per day that the midwife recomended. For now, I will use regular sea salt.

    • Cardamom

      Let me know how this works for you! For the salt, I use Real Salt – it has natural trace minerals. My midwife always made sure I was drinking enough fluids, too… 🙂 I usually drank about a quart of red raspberry leaf/nettle leaf tea mixture daily, too.

  • I made this today. It’s pretty tasty and perfect for our Arizona summers. I used 1/2 c honey but I will prob use more next time or try it with sugar instead. I like it a bit sweeter.

  • I have been making this for years – it’s so great! My husband loves it, which is really unusual for a lot of healthy substitutes I try out on him 🙂 Thank you for this!

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