A Homemade Giant, Crystal Clear Ice Cube Tray
August 27, 2010
As you're probably aware, I've been dabbling in experiments making clear ice at home. [update: An organized index of ice experiments on Alcademics can be found here.] The way I've found that works best is to freeze ice in an Igloo cooler with the top off. (Please read the post before you tell me to boil the water in the comments- it doesn't work.)
This is now how I make all my ice at home- I haven't used trays in months.
Now I am working on ways to best carve ice and also trying to create an ice cube tray that will work in this directional freezing system. I found a method that works that I need to perfect.
Here's what I've done.
I went down to The Container Store and purchased these plastic gift boxes. They're 2 inches by 2 inches wide (4.5 centimeters) and around 5 inches tall (11.5 cm) with the tops off.
These I put in my Igloo cooler. I've done it with the open top of the container facing up, and also facing down. Facing down works better, actually, because the air in the rectangles gets pushed out the bottom. Facing up, you get a 1cm cloudy patch at the top of the cubes. No big whoop.
Then I fill the cooler with water and freeze it. It comes out as a block of ice with the cubes stuck in it.
These separate surprisingly easily from the block.
Also surprisingly easy is how the ice pops out of these plastic containers. I just leave them upside-down for a couple minutes and the ice cubes slice right out.
As you can see in the above picture, there is a little bit of cloudiness when the trays are left with the open part facing up. I repeated this experiment with the open part facing down and there was less cloudiness. Either way, there isn't much to worry about as it can be cut off when cutting these big long cubes down to 2 inch by 2 inch by 2 inch ones.
- These ice cubes are fricking awesome.
- I need to try it with cutting off the bottom of the containers so that they're a rectangular tube rather than a box.
- I think this is actually scalable to make an ice cube tray with some tweaking.
An index of ice experiments on Alcademics can be found here.
Have you had any of the gift boxes break when the water/ice expands?
Posted by: Tony Harion | August 27, 2010 at 11:58 AM
Can you detail how you get the cloudy bit off? You say it's no big deal, but I envision my roommate winding up with a knife stuck in his hand.
Posted by: Kelly | August 27, 2010 at 12:09 PM
Tony- only the bottom of the cubes have strained and cracked slightly when I had the closed end facing down. There is no reason for me to have a closed end so I'm going to cut it off. There doesn't seem to be any cracking laterally since all the air/pressure is concentrated at the bottom of the ice block, not inside the tubes.
Posted by: Camper English | August 27, 2010 at 12:53 PM
For all of this ice, you score a line with a knife then give it a whack with an ice pick and it should break in a relatively clean line.
Posted by: Camper English | August 27, 2010 at 12:54 PM
I eagerly await cross-marketing efforts between Trader Tiki's Syrups and the Alcademics Clear Ice Equipment Company.
In the mean time, it's off to the Container Store!
Thanks Camper, though I will now have to find space in the freezer....
Posted by: Doug Winship | August 27, 2010 at 01:54 PM
Incidentally, why are the exposed tops so irregular? It looks like the surface of a windy lake was flash-frozen.
Posted by: Doug Winship | August 27, 2010 at 01:56 PM
The iregular tops are due to the position of the cooler in the freezer- even in the big cooler the ice is thicker on the side closer to the freezer fan than on the other side. weird.
Posted by: Camper English | August 27, 2010 at 02:08 PM
Why the cooler though, Camper? Here at Liberty in Seattle, we generally use the round, japanese ball trays, and of course the ice comes out with lots of bubbles. Do you think that this has more to do with the speed of the freezing or the lack of an ability for the air to fescape since probably it freezes at top before inside?
Anyway. Another option that works is to go to a store that sells plastic trays for people that make jewelery. These stores will have perfect 2"x2" spaces that are 20 to the tray. The tops come out same as yours.
That all said, I sure like the ice balls better for how they fill a glass, but so far - no way to get rid of the air bubbles...
Thanks for the info!
Posted by: Drink | August 27, 2010 at 03:03 PM
The cooler with the lid open freezes only from the top down, not from all sides towards the center. Thus the cloudy part of the ice is all on the very bottom of the cooler, and if you don't let it freeze all the way there is no cloudiness at all. It took a few months to figure that out.
So if you use any molds that are non-enclosed (like these rectangles with the bottoms cut off) and place them only in the clear portion of the water (the top part of the cooler) all the ice inside them should be clear.
This probably would not work with ice ball molds because they're round. Maybe with a hole on each end they would work. I may try that in a future experiment.
Posted by: Camper English | August 27, 2010 at 03:15 PM
the problem is that when water freezes in a freezer it freezes from the outside in...that traps oxygen in the form of bubbles inside the ice. the best way is the icicle method, freezing from the inside out...used by quality ice machines.
This looks like a great way to trick the system so those of use with no ice machine can make clear ice at home.
Nice job Camper!...im going to try it
Posted by: Todd Appel | August 27, 2010 at 04:14 PM
Posted by: Mr Manhattan | August 27, 2010 at 07:00 PM
This is brilliant. Gotta try it. Wait 'til my bride finds out I've taken everything out of the freezer...
Posted by: Doug Ford | August 29, 2010 at 03:24 PM
Here's a thought: after you cut the bottoms of the rectangle, what if you lay a grate on the bottom of the cooler before putting in the containers and filling it with water? Then (in theory, at least) the cloudy portion will be concentrated below the grate, and all you'll end up with is clear, beautiful ice blocks?
FYI, after reading this post a few days ago, I tried this method with some 2" ice ball molds and Tovolo trays. The ice balls still had a noticeable 'bloom', but much, much smaller than normal, and the rest of the ice was crystal clear. The Tovolo cubes were almost entirely clear. Just a fine layer of bubbles on the bottom, maybe about 1/16th of an inch, tops.
Posted by: Louis | August 29, 2010 at 07:36 PM
Hmm yes that's a possibility, just a permeable platform or something that elevates the rectangles (or whatever)above the bottom of the cooler rather than suspending them from the top. That way would make it easier to use different shapes of containers.
Glad the Tovolo tray worked- awesome.
Posted by: Camper English | August 29, 2010 at 07:55 PM
Cool! I'm a big fan of big lumps of ice in drinks.
Posted by: Flamigno Fred | August 29, 2010 at 11:44 PM
Yay! I'm so proud of you.
I agree with Louis about putting a "permeable" platform on the bottom to encase the cloudy part. WOOT!
Posted by: Addy | August 30, 2010 at 08:57 AM
You need the water to boil; but not by heating it. I place silicone cube trays in a vacuum sealed container. Remove the air inside [I use a wine bottle vacuum pump], when the water stops boiling, place in freezer. This removers the dissolved gases from the water which yields clear ice.
Posted by: ROBinHAWAII | August 30, 2010 at 10:04 AM
Thanks Rob. I'm thinking there are several ways to make clear ice.
1. Directional freezing, as above.
2. Removing air in the water through boiling and sealing.
3. Agitation while freezing as many ice machines do.
Posted by: Camper English | August 30, 2010 at 10:14 AM
At my first ever night at a bar, I was set to polish ice cubes to remove the cloudiness. Being the go-getter naive 16-year old that I was at the time, I put great effort into the task. Seems your strategy is better!
Posted by: Lene Johansen | August 30, 2010 at 01:27 PM
Hrm, we have the technique Rob replies, with no success (we used a vacuum seal plastic container). The results were virtually indistinguishable from non-vacuum sealed, boiled ice trays.
I postulated that it was impossible to remove 100% of the dissolved oxygen (it seems like the pressure required to do so would be rather extreme).
Rob, can you photodocument your technique?
Posted by: Andrew H. | August 31, 2010 at 09:45 AM
I just tested my theory on the 'elevated' ice tray method. I filled a rectangular tupperware container with water, put a couple of ramekins inside, then placed a filled Tovolo tray on top. So, the ramekins were about 1" off the bottom of the container, and about half submerged. Put that into the cooler in my freezer, and about 24 hours later...perfectly clear cubes. Now I'm trying the same method with my ice ball mold.
Posted by: Louis Anderman | August 31, 2010 at 10:53 AM
Awesome! I'm having a hard time picturing the set-up though: how the Tovolo tray was in contact with the other water so that the cloudy/air in them could escape.
You sent a picture to me on facebook of your cube. When you next do it would you take a picture of your set-up and I'll share it here? Not sure if you can post pictures in the comments here but worth a shot...
Posted by: Camper English | August 31, 2010 at 11:12 AM
This is the most wonderful thing in the world. Ever. I asked people at Cal Tech why I couldn't make restaurant quality ice at home, and they had all these elaborate solutions. I say, if someone can make this quality ice automatic for a consumer freezer -- they will be stupid rich.
Posted by: Maddy | September 02, 2010 at 03:10 PM
Posted by: rachael | September 03, 2010 at 08:32 PM
You`re a freakin`genius Camper! some day, when i have a coolor and plastic containers and space in my freezer i wanna try this out.
Posted by: Tiare62 | September 04, 2010 at 06:38 PM
I just used this method for Pickled with Carlos last week. I added sprigs of lemon verbena witch both infused the ice slightly and made a pretty remarkable garnish.
I call it a Han Solo.
Posted by: NW | September 06, 2010 at 02:39 PM
I'm also having a hard time picturing this setup... a photograph would be great. Wouldn't the ice cube tray be totally frozen into the water in the larger container?
Posted by: Andrew H. | September 10, 2010 at 01:09 AM
Andrew- Louis sent me a picture. He basically put a tray on a platform with water coming up almost to the top of the tray on the outside. This helped the cubes freeze top-down like the cooler method, with a little cloudy part on the bottom of each cube rather than in the middle.
Posted by: Camper English | September 10, 2010 at 12:53 PM
Was the ice tray upside down? Perhaps you can post the picture? :)
Posted by: Andrew H. | September 16, 2010 at 10:45 PM
Nope, it was just an ice cube tray right-side-up but sitting in a pool of water. The picture doesn't illuminate it very well.
Posted by: Camper English | September 18, 2010 at 05:48 PM
Just a thought, and I'm not sure if this has been mentioned/tried. Please bear with me while I try to explain what I am picturing. This is a step by step to get what I imagine as the final set-up. I am sure there's a more efficient way to get there. :)
1. Place a cooling rack (like for baking) in the bottom of the cooler
2. fill cooler with water
3. place a gift box under water right side up so it fills and then turn it over so the opening is on the cookie sheet
4. repeat until you have all your gift boxes alike
5. pump out the water in the cooler until it is just higher than the "top of the cooling rack/bottom of the gift boxes" in the cooler, leaving you with a collection of water "columns" over a water "base" (I have no idea if this makes any sense)
I am wondering if maybe the cloudy would get pushed out the bottoms of the boxes and into the water "base", leaving clear "columns"?
I imagine removal of the boxes would just require running hot water over the whole thing until the sides of the columns and where the boxes meet the base melted free. Of course, the columns would be attached to the base, I suppose.
Another interesting thing would be to see if after the removal of the water from around the columns if the addition of salt to the "base" would merge with the "Column" water. If not, then the base could be salty "insulated" water, ready to accept the air bubbles, while the columns freeze to their hearts content.
Posted by: Doug | November 02, 2010 at 05:14 PM
In step 3 above "cookie sheet" should read "cooling rack"
Posted by: Doug | November 02, 2010 at 05:17 PM
I get what you mean. I've done this with the boxes both facing up and down, and both work well.
I don't think removing the water around the sides helps, because is there is any air contact with the sides of the boxes (between the boxes and the outside of the cooler) then they'll probably freeze before the top does.
I think an ideal compromise between your idea and what I've done is:
1. boxes that have no bottom- square tubes
2. put on a cooling rack
3. boxes that fit well in the cooler so there isn't much spare space
I would also love to find some kind of boxes made from silicone like Tovolo ice cube trays. These plastic boxes may expand and break- look like they're straining already.
Posted by: Camper English | November 02, 2010 at 05:27 PM
Thank you for your response. Another thought that crossed my mind for either my idea or your compromise idea is if rather than being only a square tube, what if the bottom had removable "lid" with a smallish hole. I say this because with the open bottom in either scenario it might be difficult to remove the ice cube from the "base". However, with a lid with a smaller opening, hopefully the bubbles could escape through the hole during freezing, the tube portion could be removed from the "lid" as usual after freezing, and perhaps one could snap the ice cube off due to the smaller connection to the "base".
As usual, I hope my description makes sense and at least resembles what I am picturing in my head. And now I will stop trying to second guess your extensive research. :)
Posted by: Doug | November 02, 2010 at 07:29 PM
Though I haven't done this too many times (so many experiments, so little time) so far I haven't had much trouble removing the ice from the tubes. That said, I've never done it by raising them off the bottom, so I haven't had to snap them off the base. Will keep it in mind!
Posted by: Camper English | November 02, 2010 at 07:34 PM
Is it just me, or is this really a gigantic waste of energy, freezing water in an open cooler? I Is this your personal contribution to global warming?
Posted by: frederick | November 03, 2010 at 01:17 PM
The freezer is still closed so I think it's like having a big ice cube tray. Also, I'm not buying blocks of ice that have to be driven anywhere...
Posted by: Camper English | November 03, 2010 at 01:21 PM
Anyone that can explain the benefit of this to me? Who cares what your ice looks like?
Posted by: Dan | December 03, 2010 at 06:30 PM
Not much taste difference at all, just a bit slower dilution for the same sized ice, but aesthetically it's much more pleasing, which helps the drink taste better!
Posted by: Camper English | December 04, 2010 at 06:11 PM
Glad to find another person, nay group, trying to perfect clear ice. I'll look forward trying these ideas and sharing the results. One note is the containers need to be food grade. Not sure if the containers are. good luck!
Posted by: Ed | December 06, 2010 at 07:24 AM
I've been trying to get clear icecubes myself for a while but cannot for the life of me get 100% clear cubes. There's always some, usually at the bottom or middle of the cube.
I've filtered the water, boiled it twice, even distilled it (or rather, collected steam from boiled water) and think it has to be either to do with the hardness of the water (very hard) or the way it is freezed (people have said that industrial clear ice is made in freezers where the water doesn't "stand" while freezing).
Can you comment on either of those thoughts? Is it impossible to use pre-bought trays and get clear cubes/shapes?
I am using regular ice cube trays, albeit with different shaped cubes i.e. not cubes.
Posted by: Matt | January 29, 2011 at 08:58 AM
Hi- Yep. Look through the links here:
And you'll see that I tried all those ways and they don't seem to make a difference. The two ways that commercial machines use to make clear ice are moving/rotating water so that no air freezes, and directional freezing a la the Igloo cooler. As far as I can tell, the only way to make an ice cube tray in a standard freezer make mostly clear ice would be to insulated the bottom and sides of it (directional freezing), then dump out the cubes before they finish freezing (as the cloudy part is the last part to freeze).
That said, there is always more ice research to be done- I still have a few more ideas to try...
Posted by: Camper English | January 29, 2011 at 01:24 PM
Such a super blog! just found it today looking for ice tips, but all of your writing is super intriguing and helpful and wizened! (not sure if i'm using wizened correctly, just wanted to toss it in there)...
anyhu, thanks a ton! looking fwd to future ice endeavors! keep us all posted! cheerio!
Posted by: Knut Gedichte | February 15, 2011 at 12:08 AM
Haven't tried this, but seems like it would work like a charm. Punch 1/4 " holes in the bottoms of the tovolo tray with a hole punch. Place said tovolo tray in appropriately sized rectangular tupperware bowl so about a half an inch of water will remain at bottom. Then insulate the tupperware container with aerogel or styrofoam board or place in a larger tupperware bowl and use expanding foam to insulate.
Posted by: Mog | March 26, 2011 at 05:19 AM
Nice tests you've all been doing.
Have any of you maby tried to rotate the container while in the freezer?
I was wondering about this, and will maby give it a go.
Enjoy all, and thanks for the nice ideas :)
Posted by: Emil | June 05, 2011 at 01:39 PM
For what reason rotate the container- to make the surface more flat? I think there is a tradeoff here - if you jostle the container too much when it's freezing it seems to have more bubbles/cloudy parts (higher up from the bottom) than if you leave it alone. Everything is worth a try, though!
Posted by: Camper English | June 05, 2011 at 01:45 PM
I think it is perhaps a stupid question, but can you explain me, how you get the water into the boxes when you do it with the open top of the container facing down?
Best regards from the Beau Bar in Düsseldorf, Germany
Posted by: Sebastian | June 21, 2011 at 11:18 AM
Hi- I dunk them in water then turn them upside-down. I can't fit a full cooler full of upside-down ones that way though. You might want to try this with no top or bottom of the boxes- just square tubes. I was not able to cut the tops off these boxes without cracking them so I have not tried this but on today's post on Alcademics you can see where Mike did it this way.
Posted by: Camper English | June 21, 2011 at 11:27 AM
After reading the plethora of posts and comments on your site, I got to thinking the same thing. After a lot of thinking and a bit of research, I came across makeyourownmolds.com . It's relatively inexpensive and (bonus) food-safe. I would think possibility of making molds like your boxes would be fairly foregone conclusion. Other shapes might prove to be a bit difficult. But maybe a clear ice sphere is in our future...?
Posted by: Jon Thorp | June 30, 2011 at 02:40 PM
Thanks for the link Jon. Might be worth a try! The problem with round molds is that water has to be able to pass through them, but perhaps a round mold with a hole at the bottom and the top would work..
Posted by: Camper English | June 30, 2011 at 05:16 PM
i hate to say it but try putting a waterproof
womans play toy in, that little bit of movement might get the air out.there for no
Posted by: brian | July 10, 2011 at 08:08 AM
I've been experimenting with making clear ice for some time. You are correct, the boiling, or double boiling method does not work well. This site is the best I've seen at solving the problem. I had essentially given up and just used filtered (ZeroWater) water in a large stainless steel pail, then just used the clear portion.
Tonight I'm trying your method, sort of. took a variety of plastic containers and placed them in a clean small ice chest full of water. The containers are upside down or sideways. With one large one, I poked a couple holes in the inverted bottom to allow all the air out. I'm wondering if simply putting holes in the top will work the same as having a 'tube' container with no bottom or top.
Will report in the morning
Posted by: Onyr | October 09, 2011 at 09:18 PM
Works perfectly, but freezes slowly Not even half frozen after 2.5 days.
2d try started 10/10 at 1400 with a smaller igloo (9 qt) with two divders. I also punched holes in a sheet of plastic held .25" from the bottom. Will let it freeze about 24 hours or until I can see cloudy ice at the bottom.
Posted by: Onyr | October 11, 2011 at 10:00 AM
Thanks for sharing your experiments!
Posted by: Camper English | October 12, 2011 at 11:05 AM
You have me obsessed. I saw this video and thought it would be appreciated here. http://vimeo.com/42861174 - they used crystal clear ice and whittled it into an ice ball for a glass of Whisky. It was beautiful! He also talked about freezing it at a lower temp to make it denser, interesting idea. Have you done more ice trials lately?
Posted by: Karyn | June 06, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Not too many more ice trials since I figured this out. But it seems for clear ice only 3 options have been working for people:
1. This pond, or directional freezing, method.
2. Freezing at just below 0 degrees for slow freezing.
3. Commercial machines that agitate the water.
All posts on ice are available using the ice tag:
Posted by: Camper English | June 10, 2012 at 08:22 AM
A company is doing a small one ice cube model for $25.
Posted by: Jon | July 09, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Nice going, thought to slow the freeze down with a cooler. Another way ive done it is by vibration. If u litelyvibrate the water while freezing it will come out crystal clear
Posted by: Pocko | August 01, 2012 at 11:04 PM
What did you use to vibrate the tray? I've wanted to try this method but haven't figured out how to do it.
Posted by: Camper English | August 04, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Have you considered a sealed ice mold suspended in saltwater?
Posted by: Taburroughs | September 22, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Yes I tried that before I discovered this method, but it wasn't successful for me. I suppose it's just another insulator and there is no reason it couldn't work with enough salt, but plastic worked better for me.
Posted by: Camper English | September 22, 2012 at 08:43 PM
As always, great work Camper. We adapted your process to work with our ice ball maker: http://whiskey-ice.com/blog/trackback.html?post_id=2
Thanks again for the great work.
Posted by: Thewhiskeyiceco | December 13, 2012 at 11:00 AM
Nice work, and a simple solution for your molds. Your link didn't work for me. Here is one that should:
Posted by: Camper English | December 13, 2012 at 11:11 AM
STOP STOP STOP!!!!!!
I'm lost... I need some 'splainin done.
You filled box with water, then put them open side down in a cooler (why didn't the water pour out?)
Can someone do this with a picture by picture process to better show exactly how to do it? My brain is cramping up from reading the original method, then every subsequent addition to the original method, then every derivation to add to the subsequent addition to the original method.....
I think I just tore the very fabric of space/time with that.
Posted by: Brian K | December 13, 2012 at 01:42 PM
This is some awesome reading. What are people finding as far as timing on how long they need to leave the cooler in the freezer? I'm one day into my first trial and it looks like i will be waiting for two more days. Is this typical?
Posted by: Altimate_One | April 12, 2013 at 12:28 PM
I believe it's 3-4 days for me. A further refinement - if you don't let it freeze completely solid to the bottom, everything is easier to break apart and the cubes slide out of the plastic boxes faster as well.
Posted by: Camper English | April 12, 2013 at 12:31 PM
Thanks for the follow up. My cooler is bigger and my patience got the best of me. Two days wasn't enough to accomplish my goal but I saw the possibilities and I'm super excited.
Posted by: Altimate_One | April 13, 2013 at 03:16 PM
Sorry but whats the temperature you use to freeze the ice? -1˚?
Posted by: [email protected] | July 26, 2013 at 07:40 AM
Any temperature below freezing works. If you can get your freezer that accurate that you can freeze at -1, you might not need to use the cooler at all. Most of us aren't that fortunate.
Posted by: Camper English | July 26, 2013 at 08:56 AM
In my freezer 20 to 24 hours works well to get 2" cubes with mainly water in the bottom. My other freezer is slower, much slower.
The amount of insulation is another factor. I've used insulation from .25" to 2.0" The biggest difference is simply in how long it takes to freeze, without a big difference in clarity. BTW, what do people think is the 'ideal' size for a cube of clear ice?
Posted by: Onyr | September 19, 2013 at 09:31 AM
Does degassing with a chamber vacuum help at all? I'm thinking about water sealed in large vacuum bags, then placed into a rigid container to get the best dimensions out of it.
Posted by: Quantastic | November 01, 2013 at 08:16 PM
I don't know of anyone who has a strong enough vacuum that they've tried it yet. When I tried something different with a bag inside a container though, the folds in the bag made the ice nearly impossible to get the ice out.
Posted by: Camper English | November 02, 2013 at 10:17 AM
Hey Camper - I have a few questions. (I read through most of the comments, but didn't see the answers I'm looking for. I apologize if they've been answered and I missed it.)
1) Are the different plastic products you used (the gift boxes) food safe? I'm mostly curious if you've noticed any actual plastic-related flavor in the cubes, but I suppose it would be good to know also if the boxes are toxic-ish.
2) Do you have links you could share to the products you used i.e. the Igloo cooler?
Thanks! Smart comments are a dying breed. Love your site!
Posted by: Nanl | July 21, 2014 at 09:38 PM
Hi - The plastic boxes are by no means guaranteed food safe. However they do not seem to transfer any plastic taste to the ice. (Water balloons, on the other hand, do unless you wash them off.) I don't necessarily recommend them for commercial use due to this (it's also pretty slow), but I find them taste-neutral.
The cooler - you want hard sided, with a Removable Lid (not the slide-to-the-side version), such as:
but best to go see one in person to see if it looks like the ice will slide out - the top should the same width or wider than the bottom.
Posted by: Camper English | July 22, 2014 at 09:43 PM
Stumbled upon this blog, by way of Kevin Liu on sciencefare. So many great ideas on here, which got me inevitably thinking. From my time with scenery building, especially dealing with plaster. I came to think that ice forming and plaster pieces share some similarities.
When creating plaster pieces, you use silicone molds, just as with ice. And as with ice, you get trapped air bubbles, to get rid of these I would then put them in a homemade vacuum chamber. What if in conjunction with the vacuum you added some slight vibration. Either within the water surrounding the molds, in the molds, or on the container itself? This could be achieved through a cheap portable hand sander for the container, or some other vibrating device for within. Then to also add slow freezing, Im assuming smaller crystals would make a better block?
Posted by: Alexander | August 21, 2014 at 06:15 AM
Just to add, another idea from my modeling scenery, to cut the blocks why not use a hot-wire foam cutter? They can be made easily, cheaply, and to almost any size.
I should of mentioned as well, that a vacuum chamber can be built pretty easily and at a good price point.
Posted by: Alexander | August 21, 2014 at 06:26 AM
Hi - Thanks for the advice. With the vacuum chamber, I think you would have to place the whole chamber in the freezer, no? We've thought about vacuuming air out of water, but then you'd have to put it into some sort of plastic bag if you were going to remove it from the chamber to freeze it. While the size of this bag would probably be too small for practical use I'd love to see if it works as proof of concept.
I haven't hooked something up to a vibrating object yet - I should have done that years ago just to see its effect. The closest I got was going into an adult book store and asking if they had any 'personal massagers' with cords.
Posted by: Camper English | August 21, 2014 at 08:57 AM
I'd love to try the hot wire foam cutter to see if it works for ice. I have tried with knives in boiling water but it hardly made a dent before it became too cold. Looking online they seem to go from cheap to really expensive pretty easily. Maybe I should try a cheap one for proof-of-concept...
Posted by: Camper English | August 21, 2014 at 09:01 AM
Can someone please give me a link to where I can find these plastic containers or something very similar?
Posted by: George Lara | September 08, 2014 at 07:03 PM
@George - I'm pretty sure they're these: http://www.containerstore.com/shop?showDS=true&Ns=default&Ntt=Amac+Boxes&submit=
Posted by: John B | September 21, 2014 at 11:17 AM
I have followed several experiments on here on how to get clear ice. I pose a question to the public. Will the containers of ice produce completely clear specimens if the rectangular containers are raised from the bottom? Allowing water to circulate beneath them. Or, Will there be a another result if there is no bottom to the rectangular containers? Will the shape, location, or spacing of the air in the ice be affected?
Posted by: Tim Walters | October 16, 2014 at 04:35 PM
I also forgot to mention Big Fan of your work! Thank you!
Posted by: Tim Walters | October 16, 2014 at 04:41 PM
I think having the containers be square tubes that hang down from the top of the cooler would be an ideal way to make this ice cube trays. Another way would be to have a mesh platform that the containers sit upon, raised from the bottom of the cooler. I have thought about both of these but have not yet done them.
These particular plastic containers break when I have tried to cut off the bottoms, so I would need a better tool or a different container.
Later experiments have shown that as long as there is room beneath the suspended tray that the water/ice will flow down as it freezes, so yes to your question it should produce clear ice within the containers.
Posted by: Camper English | October 16, 2014 at 04:45 PM
Posted by: Camper English | October 16, 2014 at 04:45 PM
I appreciate the speedy reply! I will combine a few things from the comments and I will try to let you know of my conclusions. Thanks so much! Best of luck!
Posted by: Tim Walters | October 16, 2014 at 05:03 PM
Don't cut off the bottoms to make square tubes. Just drill a few holes in the bottoms. Then you can use the containers upside down with the opening on the bottom. Same functionality as a square tube.
You could put the upside down tubes on a mesh cooling rack that fits inside the cooler. While that works, I find it easier to cut or melt the cloudy part off. Melting (on a countertop or flat pan) has the advantage of making the cube perfectly flat/square with sharp edges.
Posted by: Westy | October 24, 2014 at 05:13 PM
I was thinking that same thing. It's highly doubtful that they are food grade... thus the plastic is probably leaching bad stuff into the water/ice.
Posted by: earfdae | October 28, 2014 at 01:07 PM
I'd love to here how it goes with upside down round ice molds since they have a hole at the top, but I don't think that it will work, because the mold may cause the balls inside to freeze slower than the outside water.
Posted by: Pasquale | December 09, 2014 at 08:50 PM
Here is the ice ball solution
Posted by: Camper English | December 10, 2014 at 09:55 AM
I want to get an order
Posted by: baly | July 12, 2017 at 01:45 AM
I want to get an order?
Posted by: baly | July 12, 2017 at 01:45 AM
Hello - I tried this in an uninsulated plastic container and had mixed results. Does an insulated container allow the water in the 2” trays freeze faster relative to the water in the cooler? I’ll buy an insulated container if that was the cause of my less than clear ice. Thanks, Jackson
Posted by: Jackson Dewey | June 30, 2020 at 10:53 AM
It forces the water to freeze from the top toward the bottom. Here's a backgrounder on how water freezes in an insulated container: https://www.alcademics.com/2016/04/what-is-directional-freezing.html
Posted by: Camper English | June 30, 2020 at 11:05 AM
Many thanks for the fast and informative reply.
Posted by: Jackson Dewey | June 30, 2020 at 12:26 PM
Hi, I've been trying to make clear ice at home, and used the cooler method with reasonable success.
I've had this idea, that you could use directional freezing from bottom to top, by using a silicone ice cube tray filled with water and placing an insulated box on top of it, covering the top and sides.
In my mind that would insulate the top and sides, forcing the water to freeze from the bottom up, forcing all the bubbles to the open space above.
I haven't experimented with it, and it might have flaws that I can't think of, but I discovered this site, and after reading some articles (and a lot of comments), I didn't see anyone trying something like it, so I thought I'd ask what do you think.
Posted by: George | August 14, 2020 at 09:50 PM
HI George - Sorry this got sent to my spam folder. Here's an example of someone rigging the cooler system from bottom-up:
The problem with your proposed system is that ice floats, so you have to do something to stop it from freezing on the surface even if it's insulated- in the example above, which is how ice sculpture machines work, an aquarium pump is used to keep the surface clear.
Posted by: Camper English | August 27, 2020 at 11:33 AM
What is the best temperature to have your freezer wrap for the thickest block of clear ice?
Posted by: Jeff | April 28, 2023 at 04:19 PM