Anyone who has tried making ice at home would probably want to make them as clear as crystal. The process is as easy as filling a cooler with water, placing it in the freezer, and removing the ice carefully. However, the kind of ice often seen at high-end bars is a rather tricky venture. Luckily, you are about to learn how to make clear ice at home in three different ways. It takes some practice and determination but once you get it done, you’ll be mesmerized by its stunning quality.
Different Methods To Make Clear Ice
For each method, you’ll need a freezer. As for the water used, you may choose either hot, distilled, or tap.
Ice Mold Method
The ice mold method is efficient, hassle-free, and easier than the other two techniques, but it costs more. Besides its ease, it also has the added advantage of allowing you to make ice cubes of various shapes, as these molds come in different contours and patterns.
- Appropriate ice mold
- Choose the best ice mold that is intended for making clear ice.
- Make sure it’s clean before using it.
- Fill the mold with water but leave about half an inch thick to the top to give room for expansion.
- Put it in the freezer set at 53 degrees Fahrenheit for 24-26 hours.
- Take the mold and let it sit for a few minutes on the counter to loosen up the ice.
- Remove the ice from the mold. If the mold has multiple parts, disassemble them first.
The Cooler Method
The cooler method also works on the same top-down unidirectional freezing principle. In contrast, this technique is much more involved and hands-on. DIY enthusiasts would prefer this method because you get to do the ice cutting and shaping yourself and you’re free to be creative.
What You’ll Need
- Remove the lid of the cooler.
- Fill it with water about three-quarters full.
- Place the small cooler in the freezer uncovered for 24-26 hours or 36-40 hours for big coolers. The absence of the lid ensures that while the water in the cooler is insulated from freezing, the exposed uppermost part freezes first, ensuring the impurities are driven downwards.
- Take the cooler out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes to loosen the ice.
- Carefully transfer the ice block into the tray to catch any unfrozen portions where all the impurities are.
- Remove any small frozen chips at the sides using a mallet or serrated knife. You can keep the counter clean with a towel.
- Place the ice block on a cutting board. Cut it into cubes or other shapes by scoring the surface with the knife and lightly tapping it with the mallet.
The Salt Water Method
Unlike the other two methods, the salt water technique works on a bottom to top freezing pattern. It is less reliable and more tedious but could come in handy in cases where there is no ice mold or cooler available.
What You’ll Need
- Fill a baking tray with water and add a large quantity of salt. Place it in the freezer and allow it to cool for about 3 hours.
- Place the bowl filled with plain water on the baking tray, cover, and allow to freeze for about 24 hours. Because saltwater has a lower freezing point than plain water, heat will be conducted from the tray upwards and cooling should take place in a bottom-up direction.
- Remove the bowl of water from the freezer, allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes, and then turn on a clean sink or cutting board. Cut into desired sizes and shapes with a serrated knife or ice pick.
Benefits of Clear Ice
It prevents drinks from being watered down
Clear ice cubes tend to melt slower than cloudy ones because the former is more compact due to the absence of air bubbles within. This leads to a slower rate of dilution so you can enjoy the pure taste of your whiskey or cocktail.
Doesn’t alter the drink’s taste
Clear ice means that it is rid of its impurities, so you don’t have to experience any off-flavors that came from the freezer or the mineral taste from the water. And it doesn’t matter what type of water you used, as long as the correct method is applied.
Cocktails aren’t just about taste but the looks as well. Clear ice makes any drink look prettier and more appetizing. Even the process of carving it into different shapes is almost therapeutic.
Less reaction to carbonated drinks
Trapped air pockets in cloudy ice hold oxygen. If you pour soda or beer in a glass full of cloudy ice, chances are, you’ll panic about how much fizz it creates. Clear ice spares you from all of the mess because it doesn’t have the same reaction. And you don’t have to wait for the fizz to die out for you to enjoy your drink.
What makes ice clear or cloudy?
One of the most prominent suggestions seen on the internet is to use boiled or distilled water for making clear ice, but this actually doesn’t have a significant effect on the outcome. It has something to do more with the temperature, direction, and duration.
The distinction between clear and cloudy ice lies in the fact that the former does not contain impurities in the form of minerals. Water molecules naturally freeze from all directions and in the process, push these foreign molecules away from themselves and toward the center, where they are trapped. That’s why you commonly see ice cubes that are clear on the sides but cloudy in the middle.
If you only use a regular ice tray, fill it up with tap water, and put it in the freezer for a long time, you can expect the result to be not transparent. Fortunately, there are ways to control this. You can use special trays and ice makers that are designed to make clear ice. Or apply the method called directional freezing to push the air bubbles to the bottom of the ice block so you can just carve it out, leaving you with nothing but clear ice.
Is clear ice stronger than cloudy ice?
In a way, yes, because clear ice is free from air bubbles that cause the ice to crack more. If you’re the kind of person who likes to chew ice, you can notice that it’s easier to grind cloudy ice than clear ice with your teeth. Since clear ice is just plain water, it has better structural integrity. Also, the absence of air pockets makes clear ice melt slower because there is a low chance of evaporation.
We hope this guide on how to make clear ice has helped you replicate those bar-type elegant crystal-clear ice cubes. Creating clear ice may require some effort but it has significantly better results for the drink and subsequently to the guests. Enjoyed this read? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.