The Whiskey Ice Co.

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How to make clear ice for clear spherical ice balls

The Whiskey Ice Co. Spherical Ice Ball Maker creates spherical ice balls that transform your drink from just a drink to something special and more enjoyable. We all know how great the spherical ice ball looks and how well it cools your drink with less dilution, but to take the spherical ice ball to the next level, clear ice not only brings out the wow factor in terms of looks, but clear ice melts slower because trapped gasses (one of the main causes for cloudiness in ice) cause small fissures in the ice helping to make the ice cloudy.  Kevin Liu over at Science Fare discusses the science behind cloudy ice in more detail.

Based on research and a lot of tests by Camper English at Alcademics, and tests of our own, we have perfected the process for use in creating our ice plugs, which we use in our 2.6 inch (66 mm) Spherical Ice Ball Maker.  The result is clear, beautiful ice!

OK, let's get started.  You will need a small cooler, we used a small 8-quart cooler but any small cooler like this Rubbermaid 5-quart cooler or Rubbermaid 10-quart cooler will work well, you just have to remove the lid to allow for the freezer to cool inside the cooler.

We arranged our ice plug cup molds (also included in our Spherical Ice Ball Maker kit) in the cooler like so:

cooler no water

The idea is to fit the cups in the cooler to fill as much space as possible, while not distorting the cups' shapes.

Next, you will fill the cups to the top of The Whiskey Ice Co. logos with high quality water, we use slightly warm water to help slow the freezing process a bit (see Kevin's article at Science Fare for more on the slow freezing method), this helps to create larger crystals in the ice, which helps ensure clearer ice. After the cups have been filled, you must next fill the surround area inside to cooler with water (also warm).

cooler water

Make sure to fill the surrounding area in the cooler about a centimeter lower than the water level in the ice plug cup molds to prevent the molds from floating:


Once the cooler is setup, you are ready to freeze!  Be prepared to wait approximately 36+ hours for the ice to freeze.  You want it to freeze slowly to help make the ice clearer.

After the ice has completely frozen and all of the cups are encased in the ice that formed in the cooler, it is time to remove the large piece of ice and the ice plug mold cups. The simplest method is to run warm water on the bottom of the cooler, which will help the cooler to expand and warm up a little to release the large ice block.  Here is the Rubbermaid 10-quart cooler:


After a few minutes, you can invert the cooler on a towel or other location where you would like to empty the ice block. The large ice block will release with minor persuasion, we tapped the bottom a few times and the large ice block popped out.

All that is left is to run a little warm water on the large ice block to release the ice plug cup molds.  Warning: if you choose to use an ice pick to free the ice plug mold cups, be very careful!!  You do not want red ice!! The ice plug molds are ready to release the ice plugs:

ice in cup molds

Now that you have released the ice plug cup molds, simply warm the ice plug cup mold(s) in your hand for about 20 seconds or so and squeeze the two logos on each side while gently pressing the bottom of the ice plug cup mold. The ice plug will easily release.

And that is it.  You now have clear ice plugs to use in our Spherical Ice Ball Maker:

ice plug

A very small amount of white ice will be at the bottom, but it melts first in the Spherical Ice Ball Maker, leaving a clear, beautiful ice ball.  Sound like a lot of work for ice?  Maybe.  Our Spherical Ice Ball Maker makes great ice balls with "regular" ice too (in fact, we sometimes save the clear ice to impress our friends and regularly use normal ice plugs to create our Spherical Ice Balls).  Clear is worth the effort though!

ice ball bourbon glass

ice ball close-up


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