Ice Balls Made Easy
January 29, 2009
While everyone in their right mind would love one of those fancy giant ice ball makers that go for $1300 and up, they're not the most practical solution for the home mixologist.
[Note: since this post went up we've come up with lots of great solutions for clear ice balls and other ice technology. Check out the Ice Experiments Index Page.]
So I used my superbrain and did all sorts of math with equations and integrals and all, and came up with a way to make these at home:
(glasses by CB2, by the way)
To see my highly scientific secret method, continue reading after the jump...
I used water balloons ("water bombs" according the manufacturer) that cost five bucks for 400. Slightly cheaper than a fancy machine, and seriously, who doesn't like balloons?
Note: Ice balloons are for drink cooling and refreshment purposes only. Do not throw frozen water balloons. This may lead to serious injury.
An index of all of the ice experiments on Alcademics can be found here.
My Hero! I'd like a tutorial when you are in town.
Posted by: kenny t | January 29, 2009 at 10:49 AM
Brilliant idea! Did you have any issues with off flavors? Some times I've noticed balloons have some kind of powder on them (latex or starch perhaps).
Posted by: Reese | January 29, 2009 at 11:22 AM
These ones didn't seem to have the powder inside, but I rinsed them a bit before filling anyway. At least in my first round of experimentation no off flavors were noticeable, but i didn't lick the ice directly either. Since I have 196 balloons left, I will have time to experiment further.
Posted by: Camper English | January 29, 2009 at 11:27 AM
Is it wrong that I laughed uproariously at the title of this post? It just screams "Camper" to me. Genius idea, though!
Posted by: Marleigh | January 29, 2009 at 11:37 AM
You only laughed because:
1. You are a filthy pervert.
2. You know me too well.
Posted by: Camper English | January 29, 2009 at 11:39 AM
N"ice" Balls, dude!
Posted by: Steve Raye | January 29, 2009 at 04:27 PM
I laughed out loud at work when I read this! Camper, I want your job. I wondered about a weird taste myself...and think it's worth some more investigating.
And umm, the disclaimer is brilliant. :)
Posted by: Jamie | January 29, 2009 at 04:43 PM
Posted by: Sam Harrigan | January 30, 2009 at 10:32 AM
I think you just put half the bartenders in Japan out of business. Of course, in Japan you can probably get specially designed balloons just for making ice balls.
Posted by: Mr Manhattan | January 30, 2009 at 01:11 PM
For ice balls made difficult, check out this video:
Posted by: Blair Frodelius | January 31, 2009 at 06:56 AM
Totally genious Camper! and i laughed too..i will try this!
Posted by: Tiare | February 01, 2009 at 08:27 AM
Dramatically less-creative but also more spherical:
Posted by: Anita / Married with dinner | February 01, 2009 at 10:12 PM
For pure clear ice balls, no need to make them or buy any equipment. Order them online at www.iceandeasy.com
These are made food safe and each ball is perfect and priced as low as $1.25 ea.
Posted by: Michael Shoer | February 01, 2010 at 01:09 PM
Wow. I've been using water balloons for ice for over a year. I thought I was a secret genius and kept the idea to myself. Silly me. Great minds think alike.
Posted by: Robert Simonson | March 03, 2010 at 04:56 PM
I also knew I was a secret genius, but am worse than you at keeping secrets.
Posted by: Camper English | March 03, 2010 at 04:59 PM
Well, Camper I must say that years ago, when nobody was speaking about Japanese mixology, I already saw ice balls made with party ballons in Naples(beginnings of the 90's). The secret to have ice balls as round as possible, is to hang them in the fridge and not just lay them in a plate
Domenico ( Camper ,long time no see since Mexico)
Posted by: Domenico | March 27, 2010 at 11:04 AM
What about combining this with the igloo methodology to get Clear Ice Balls?
Posted by: Michael Corbett | September 19, 2014 at 01:49 PM
Yes Now we've done that. Here it is:
I forgot to link the Ice Index Page from this page
so I'll go back and do that now.
Posted by: Camper English | September 22, 2014 at 09:38 AM
There are ice molds now that produce perfectly clear ice spheres in conventional freezers from unfiltered water. I found these guys on Kickstarter:
They achieve this by insulating the mold on all sides but the top, to force the freezing to be mono-directional. All the air bubbles and minerals get pushed down into the reservoir in the vessel under the molds
Posted by: Berkana | October 29, 2014 at 11:37 AM
Yes indeed. And here is a cheap and easy way to do that with minimal equipment:
Posted by: Camper English | October 29, 2014 at 11:43 AM
If you want the balloon balls to be more perfect spheres, freeze them while they are in a 20% salt brine bath. The brine bath shouldn't freeze and the ice balls will float on the top. It does depend on the balloon though. The weaker the balloon, the easier it can form a sphere.
Word of warning, it can take a few tries....
Posted by: Peter | December 11, 2014 at 01:14 PM
Posted by: Camper English | December 11, 2014 at 01:23 PM