The Vandaag Cocktail Menu
Boozehound by Jason Wilson

Cutting Blocks of Ice with an Icepick

update 2021 Better ice cutting pictures are on this post.

To cut the large blocks of clear ice that I make at home using and Igloo cooler (methodology here), I have always busted out the saw I bought for that reason. 

However, last week I gave a talk on ice at Portland Cocktail Week with Evan Zimmerman and Jim Romdall. During the talk one of them (Evan I think) mentioned how you use an ice pick to cut apart a block of ice the easy way.

I cringed thinking of all the time I'd spent sawing when this way is like 1000 times easier. I hope I can save you from the same fate.

1. Start with your slab of ice. The one in this picture is about 5 inches thick.

Pick on slab_tn

2.  Tap a line across the top where you want the ice to break. The ice will chip off and form a little groove. 

Score line closeup_tn

3. Tap in one point in the center. Poke hard. Poke poke poke. 

Tap on center_tn

4. The ice should break in two roughly along the line. Hooray!

Two pieces2_tn

5. Repeat the process to break it into smaller pieces. 

Four pieces_tn

An index of all of the ice experiments on Alcademics can be found here.


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Great article. What ice pick is that? When I try to look for ice picks none of them have the chipper on the top like the one you have. Where can I find that?!

Camper English

Thanks- that's the anvil ice pick from Japanese and expensive. I love the pick but I never use the other end (haven't really figured out what it's for). I also use the 3-pronged and far less expensive one sold by CocktailKingdom a lot. It's good both for breaking blocks of ice and for fine-tuning work.


the other end is for smashing the ice


I want a sexy video of you carving ice balls at superman-like speed.


When I worked in W Hotel Hong Kong, we would use tap kitchen knife around the block to make that line, and finish off with a good solid whack. This avoided the radial cracking from a point of pressure. At home, I use a meat cleaver for the extra weight and hardier blade edge

David Kean

Ice pic is on
I just ordered one.

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