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Drinking by Degree

Ice Balls Made Easy

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:

Threecubesshortglass Iceinglass
(glasses by CB2, by the way)

To see my highly scientific secret method, continue reading after the jump...

BalloonpackageI 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.


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kenny t

My Hero! I'd like a tutorial when you are in town.


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).

Camper English

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.


Is it wrong that I laughed uproariously at the title of this post? It just screams "Camper" to me. Genius idea, though!

Camper English

You only laughed because:
1. You are a filthy pervert.
2. You know me too well.

Steve Raye

N"ice" Balls, dude!


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. :)

Sam Harrigan


Mr Manhattan

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.

Blair Frodelius

For ice balls made difficult, check out this video:



Totally genious Camper! and i laughed too..i will try this!

Anita / Married with dinner

Dramatically less-creative but also more spherical:

Michael Shoer

For pure clear ice balls, no need to make them or buy any equipment. Order them online at

These are made food safe and each ball is perfect and priced as low as $1.25 ea.

Robert Simonson

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.

Camper English

I also knew I was a secret genius, but am worse than you at keeping secrets.


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)

Michael Corbett

What about combining this with the igloo methodology to get Clear Ice Balls?

Camper English

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.


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

Camper English

Yes indeed. And here is a cheap and easy way to do that with minimal equipment:


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....

Camper English

Good idea!

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