How to make your own clear ice!

 

How to make your own clear ice cubes

So, clear ice, why? Well as it happens there are a few reasons…..

First off, a crystal clear ice cube (or ice ball) just looks GREAT in your glass. There’s simply no getting away from it. Particularly if you make it big or if you add garnishes into the ice.  

But there's actually a practical reason too. See how cloudy the ice cubes in the picture look? That's caused by lots of tiny air bubbles and impurities trapped in the ice.

These in turn mean that the ice cubes melt faster, diluting your drink much quicker. A big chunk of clear ice melts MUCH more slowly.  

The bubbles also make the ice cubes much more likely to crack and split when added to a drink, again meaning it will melt much faster.

Making clear ice is all about taking those annoying bubbles out.

So how do we make it?

Well, to start with we need to understand why ice cubes get cloudy. Now, there's a WHOLE lotta physics and chemistry around this, but we can (thankfully) ignore 99% of it.  

The basics are that water freezes first where it is coldest. So if all your cold air is hitting the bottom of your ice tray first, then the bottom will freeze first. As it freezes, it forces the bubbles of air to move.

So, in theory, if you can freeze ice from one direction only, all the bubble and impurities are force out of the ice and you get clear ice. Normal ice cubes have loads of bubbles in them as when the ice is frozen in a freezer the cold comes from all sides at once and the ice cubes freeze from the outside in. This then means that all the bubbles are forced into the centre and can't escape.

So it's easy then - we just need to directionally freeze the ice! Easy to say, hard to do, but it is possible.....

Method 1 - Spend some money

The easiest way to do this is to buy a specialist mould (ignore the cheap ones off Amazon, have a look at Wintersmiths for an idea of what you need).

Method 2 - Make it yourself

But, if you really want to make your own then here’s a few suggestions…..

Preparation

You need clear, distilled water to start with as you want the least amount of impurities and bubbles you can.

  1. Use filtered water and boil it. This helps get rid of the air
  2. Let it cool
  3. Then re-boil it and let it cool again

Now you have your water, there are three main ways to make the ice.....

1. Use a cool box  

Get a cool box that will fit in your freezer (if you have a chest freezer it’s easy, if not then you’ll have to look around for a smaller insulated box).

Fill it ½ way with your distilled water and put it in the freezer with the lid off. It will now start to freeze from the top down, pushing the bubbles to the bottom. When it’s nearly all frozen (you want a bit of unfrozen water at the bottom) take it out of the freezer and get the block of ice out.

Now you just need to clean the cloudy bits off the bottom of your ice block and then break it up into cubes (or, if you're really skilful, carve it into spheres).

2. Use an Ice tray

This method is the quick and easy version of number 3 below. It will work but can leave a few bubbles.

  1. Get a silicon ice cube tray and cut a 5mm(ish) hole in the bottom of each ice cube mould.
  2. Then sit the ice cube tray in a baking tray, propping it up so there's a 5cm gap between the bottom of the ice-cube tray and the baking tray.
  3. Now fill the ice cube tray and the surrounding baking tray with water so it reaches the top of the ice cube tray
  4. Freeze

The ice cubes will freeze from the top down and all the impurities will be forced out through the holes in the bottom of the tray. Tadah!

3. Salt water

This is a variation of method 2, it freezes from the bottom up.

  1. Fill a tray with tap water and stir in 6 tbsp of salt.
  2. Put it in the freezer for a couple of hours. You now have a tray with super cold water.
  3. Now put your prepared water into your ice cube tray (no holes in this one)
  4. Sit it in the ice water tray (it'll float) and put in the freezer.

Because the salt-water is super cold your ice-cubes will freeze from the bottom up. When it's frozen simply take the ice cubes out, clean the top of them and you have clear ice.

In Summary

Well, there you are, clear ice is achievable and looks great – give it a go!. 

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