Alcademics readers have found numerous ways to make clear ice balls, all taking advantage of Directional Freezing, the process I developed (and named) to make perfectly clear ice using an insulated cooler.
You can find an index of all the ice experiments on Alcademics here.
Some of the ice ball methods are:
- Making starter molds in a cooler and then carving from there
- A really complicated method using a big pot of water
- Setting ice ball molds into a cooler
Today's technique is a variation of Making Clear Ice Balls Using an Insulated Mug (probably the least space-intensive method), which I fact-checked here. It's basically just a different insulated mug.
This technique comes from Alcademics reader Cody P, who refined the method. He says, "Doing ice balls like this is just like your article on using a mug, but I left a few mugs too long and they broke from expansion (no big deal if a little can breaks)."
This method uses a beer can in a koozie with the top cut off.
The technique is:
- Buy a Yeti Colster. (Another brand might work, but Yeti makes particularly good insulated mugs/koozies.)
- Buy some ice ball molds. Cody P said he thinks he bought his (seen in the pictures) at Williams Sonoma, but they're the same size as these 2.5" ice ball molds.
- Cut the top off a beer can (and consider filing or taping the top edge to prevent it cutting you when using.
- Put the can in the Colster and fill it with water.
- Fill an ice ball mold almost full (leave a little room) with water.
- Hold your thumb over the hole of the ice ball mold and set it upside-down (hole facing down) on top of the can in the Colster.
- Allow to freeze overnight or roughly 8-10 hours. Remove frozen ice ball.
(For first-time readers, what is happening is that the water in the ice ball is the first part to freeze, pushing trapped air/impurities away from the point of freezing down into the insulated mug.)
Though I've not had additional success with boiling water before freezing, Cody P has. He observed:
- If you boil the water then the ice comes out SUPER, unboiled gives these air bubbles on the surface but still comes out 100X better than a regular mold.
- If you don't pour out some water like I'm doing in one of the pictures, your ball can become an egg as seen in the ice ball picture.
- It takes about 8-10 hours to freeze a ball in my freezer but I'm not sure what the temperature is.
- If you just want blocks of ice, regular tap water works great since it freezes super slow and is a small volume of water (I think). I found that after about 14 hours I can take out the large block you see and break it in half to use for whiskey and such. They are also decent sized to use an ice ball press.
Pictures of the ice from the bottom of the can are below.
Thanks much to Cody P for the method and for sending in the pictures!