Does Freezing Water in Layers Make Clear Ice?
November 19, 2009
Here's a new edition in my ongoing ice experiments. So far, there experiments have been:
- Distilled vs. Tap Water
- Melting and refreezing water
- Hot Water vs. Cold Water
- Carbonated Water vs. Still Water
- Horizontal vs. Vertical Container Shapes
With successes in:
So far my conclusions have been that (at least with my San Francisco water), temperature and filtering have less of an effect than trapped air that migrates to the center of the freezing cube. Thus I am trying to minimize this effect.
In this experiment I froze ice in layers in small lasagna pans to see if we had a maximized surface area, hopefully no air would get trapped in the ice and form cloudy parts. Apparently some commercial ice machines such as Kold Draft spray an upside-down mist of water in layers, so this would be the home approximation of that.
I tried this experiments with tiny layers, medium layers, and large layers in the same sized pan, the difference being that I added more water per layer. I let the water freeze before adding another layer.
As you can see, none of the layers turned out clear:
(Tiny layers, medium layers, and large layers left to right.)
The small sized layers were made only adding a couple of ounces of water at a time, so I can't get much smaller layers than these unless I use a spray bottle.
We'll have to call this one a failure. Freezing water in layers does not appear to make clear ice, just ice with smaller layers of trapped air.
Below is a closeup of the layers for your ice ogling enjoyment.
An index of all of the ice experiments on Alcademics can be found here.
While this might not be completely clear ice, it certainly does have a aesthetically pleasing appearance! It might look nice as long thick cubes.
Posted by: Ryan | November 19, 2009 at 09:31 AM
Good point Ryan. I just need to figure out how to cut ice now!
Posted by: Camper English | November 19, 2009 at 09:33 AM
may I give you a helping hand. Making super cristal clear ice is VERRRRY simple ... (sorry to say ... I saw you did a few Attempts).
You need a big box, lets sa where it fits like 5 to 10 or even 20 literes of water. If the Water is filltered or even "cooked" its more easy but normally it works also with regular water.
Choose a box wich is high, not wide. NOW you have to Isolate 5 sides of the BOX very good with some stuff you find for tempreature isolation (from OUTSIDE). Put the Box in the Freezer. Trick is ... Water starts freezing from the TOP, the only NOT isolated side. Die ICE on the TOP will slowly fall down and bring all the AIR and everythink wich is in the ice to the bottem. After2 or more days...belongs on freezer and size... the whole block is froozen. 10 to 20% of the bottom is "dirty" Rest is cristal clear. You need a good saw or very sharp knife to cut of the "dirty part" ... rest is a cristal clear block. Let it rest carefully at room tempreature. Then you can saw it into small - cristall clear block / cubes.
IT is NOT possible to freeze small cubes without this way (Big Block, Chop down to cube size)
Works perfect and is very easy!
Please give Feedback
Le Lion • Bar de Paris
Posted by: Joerg Meyer | November 19, 2009 at 09:41 AM
Thanks Joerg- As you can see in the next post I theorize about the very scenario you mentioned. (The pond scenario.) Glad to hear that it works and I will most certainly give it a try if I can develop a good container!
Posted by: Camper English | November 19, 2009 at 09:45 AM
Commercial companies that create large clear ice blocks for sculptures use a machine that constantly agitates the water as it freezes, which ensures that sediment falls to the bottom and bubbles are encouraged to rise to the top. I've heard from a few sites now that you can mimic this in small batches by resting the container on a small battery-powered massager as it freezes. Not sure how true that is, but it's worth a shot :)
Posted by: David Perry | November 22, 2009 at 10:24 AM
You can never under-estimate the importance of the perfect ice cube! Your approach is similar to KOLD-DRAFT, as you mention. If you'd like an explanation of the "upside down" method - http://www.kold-draft.com/ice-making-technology/our-ice-making-technology.php Good luck with your ice experiments.
Posted by: KOLD-DRAFT Commercial Ice Machines | March 23, 2010 at 06:15 AM
....so I can't get much smaller layers than these unless I use a spray bottle.
And what's wrong with that? Sounds like a lot of work, but you can automate it. Feed a drip line into the freezer to do the work. Use hot water so it doesn't freeze in the line and so it has time to spread out in the pan.
Posted by: David Rysdam | November 03, 2010 at 05:24 AM
Then I'd be replicating a Kold Draft machine that does this for you. Ultimately I'm not trying to build an ice machine (unless it's really easy) but to create a method for making clear ice at home.
By the way, the method I found that works for me is this one:
But I'm always doing more experiments. Follow along at alcademics.com/ice
Posted by: Camper English | November 03, 2010 at 08:34 AM
I love your posts on ice, thanks for continuing in your experimentation.
I've read your latest post with using the cooler and box dividers, but wanted to comment on this post specifically because of the layering principal.
Would you have any insight on using the layering method inside of a cooler? I was wondering if there's a layer of ice in the bottom of the cooler (say an inch thick), and you added some more water on top (another inch, and making sure that the ice is wedged on the bottom so that it does not float on the water), closed the cooler lid, and stuck the whole thing in the freezer, would ice begin forming on the 'seed' layer and not float to the surface? Furthermore, could this technique be used to get clear ice as essentially, you'd be freezing water from the bottom up?
Posted by: Jim | December 20, 2011 at 07:09 AM
Jim, I think I see where you're going with this. I think that wouldn't quite work as the water would melt the existing ice- the ice wouldn't be cold enough to freeze the water next to it.
The model that I would propose to accomplish it is turning the cooler over and putting the water in a large plastic bag inside the cooler. Thus the only cold source is the bottom of the cooler (rather than the usual top).
I still haven't tried this (need to find some huge ziplocks). The big question for this method is if as the water freezes on the bottom if the ice would float to the top as it forms - that would ruin it.
Posted by: Camper English | December 20, 2011 at 09:09 AM
I'm working on a school project dealing with ice and would love to try creating ice layers the way you did here. Just wondering approximately how long it took each of those layers to freeze? This info would be extremely helpful to me!
Posted by: sarah | January 09, 2012 at 01:40 PM
I just left it all day or overnight. The freezing rate will depend on your freezer temperature and how much water you add with each layer.
Posted by: Camper English | January 09, 2012 at 08:04 PM
I realize this post is almost 10 years old, but I love this form of ice and think it needs more credit and a name. Imagine a long slice of this in a tall collins glass....Say a tall gin and tonic or even a big cube in rocks martini. How about "architecheral ice", "stratified ice", "sandstone ice", "ribbon ice" or even "Camper ice".Remember Pencillin was an accident that changed the world....
Posted by: Jay | September 27, 2019 at 09:00 PM
Hah thanks. I doubt it will become as popular as penicillin as it's a pain in the butt to make! Sedimentary ice?
Posted by: Camper English | September 28, 2019 at 07:07 PM