Why is my ice white or cloudy, when I see drinks being served with perfectly clear ice cubes? Clear ice is a bit of a trend and for good reason. It just looks way better in the glass as well as when the drink is poured over it. You may be wondering how you can get your ice clear, so it’s white ice Vs clear ice.
How is it done? It is easier than you think to achieve crystal clear ice cubes for your home bar. We just have to look at nature and she will reveal the secret. It is not so much about the water, but how you freeze the water.
White Ice Vs Clear Ice
White ice is formed by the impurities and air bubbles in the water. So when we freeze water into cubes, those cubes freeze from the outside in. All the impurities and air bubbles are forced to the center of the cube. This makes the ice appear cloudy or white. Nature shows us directional freezing, from the top down, just like a lake. When ice forms on a lake it is perfectly clear, and we can replicate that when making ice at home.
So cool, nature is the best teacher.
What Water Are You Using For Your Ice Cubes?
There are lots of theories about what water to use for making ice cubes. Or how to process tap water to get the clearest of ice.
Is boiled water better for clear ice?
Boiling water may kill any bacteria that is present in the water, but it doesn’t purify it. Using water that has been boiled for making ice cubes may slightly improve its clarity. However it won’t achieve the level of clarity we are looking for.
Should I use distilled water for clear ice?
May be distilled water is the answer to clear ice. Just like boiled water it may resulting a slightly clearer ice cube. But again it won’t produce the clarity we are striving for.
There are other suggested methods of achieving clear ice cubes which include carbonated water. Don’t do it unless you want the cloudiest ice cubes on the planet. What about freezing, thawing and then freezing again? You can do this several times to get clear ice as some will suggest, but it won’t happen.
How To Make Clear Ice For Your Home Bar?
It is up to the individual as to what water they use, but that alone will not make our ice clear. Like I said before, nature has the answer. When the top surface of a lake freezes the ice is clear. This is because all the impurities and air escape into the unfrozen water below. Hey presto clear ice.
The good news is that we can replicate this at home. A DIY method is effective in producing clear ice. However it does take a little work, and will involve cutting the ice too. A second method is as easy as filling an ice cube tray, just as we would normally.
Both methods use directional freezing, the same as nature. Basically directional freezing is letting the water freeze from one direction only. Water in a square container with insulated sides and base will freeze from the top down. The trapped air will naturally end up at the bottom of the container. Leaving a clear block with a cloudy base.
The DIY Method
All you need to get clear ice is a cooler, those insulated boxes that keep our beer and food cool at the beach. Fill it with water and pop it in the freezer without a lid. When frozen most of the ice will be clear, the ice at the bottom will be white or cloudy.
I told you it was easy, however now comes the work part of this method. We are going to have a block of ice, which will need a giant glass to work. Alternatively, we have to cut the ice into cubes.
Cutting An Ice Block
- Using a cutting board that is bigger than your cooler, turn the cooler upside down to release the ice block.
- Using a serrated knife score a line along the length of your block about 2 inches (5cm) from the edge.
- Resting your knife in the score line, tap the top of the knife with a mallet along the score line until it parts from the main block.
- Repeat the process on the sheet you have broken off, until you end up with long columns.
- Now repeat the same process along each column until you end up with cubes.
The small part of the block that is white ice can be crushed for those cocktails that require crushed ice. Like I said it does take a little work, but the result is clear ice. It is a good idea to protect your hands with some cut resistant gloves.
Although it takes a little work, it does yield a decent amount of ice. However it may become a bit of a chore after you have done it a few times. Also your freezer needs to be big enough to fit a cooler in, as well as store a lot of ice. But thankfully there is an easier way to get clear ice.
Easy Clear Ice Cubes
Nature has been turned into a handy size ice cube maker that will produce clear ice. Thankfully we can now get ice molds that are designed using directional freezing. The one down side is they will not produce the amount of ice the DIY version will. However their convenience more than makes up for it.
We have Camper English to thank for these handy directional freezing molds. His extensive experiments in the pursuit of producing clear ice at home eventually paying off. You can view his list of experiments on this index page.
The home DIY cooler method has now led to some great manufactured ice molds that produce clear ice.
Clear Ice Cube Tray
A compact but high capacity ice cube maker for directional freezing. Many other molds only produce around 4 – 6 cubes at a time. However this Clearly frozen tray will produce 10 cubes at a time. Just use ordinary tap water for the perfect crystal clear 2 inch (5cm) ice cubes.
It consists of an insulated base unit and a silicone tray. Each ice cube compartment has a hole in the bottom. Put the tray in the base unit, fill it up and freeze. Both the tray and base should be full with water. The air in the water that causes the clouding goes down into the base. Leaving crystal clear ice.
A perfect compact clear ice maker, and great value too.
Premium Clear Ice Ball Maker
If you prefer to have ice balls instead of cubes, then it is possible to get a directional freezing mold for the too. There is no doubt about it, an ice ball or sphere sitting in a glass are aesthetically pleasing. Even better when they are crystal clear too.
Based on exactly the same principal but slightly smaller and only producing 6 ice balls at a time. A plastic outer case lined with insulating foam houses a water container. The sphere tray then slots into the water container and separates for easy dispensing.
It will produce 6, 2.4 inch (6cm) spheres and comes with a handy storage bag. This will keep those spheres ready for use, while you put in another batch.
Combination Crystal Clear Ice Maker
May be you like both ice cubes as well as ice spheres. You are covered too with this directional freezer you get the combination of the two types. Just pop the mold of your choice into the base unit, don’t forget the water and freeze.
This combination unit will produce either 6 ice cubes at a time, or six spheres at a time. Cubes being 2 inch (5cm) square and the spheres 2 inch (5cm) in diameter. If you are making a punch in a bowl then you can freeze a 4 inch (10cm) by 6 inch (15cm) block of ice. Just freeze the base unit without a tray in it. This will keep you punch cooler for longer.
A perfect versatile directional freezing unit producing clear cubes, spheres or ice blocks.
A cube or sphere of clear ice in a drink does look better than white or cloudy ice. When you take care to prepare great drinks at the home bar, those drinks deserve the best ice. Now it is possible to produce the best ice in our own freezers at home.
Friends and family will be asking how we manage to produce such beautiful ice. We can tell them nature showed us the way to clear ice (with a little help from Camper English). It will make a fascinating story to share at your home bar.
If you want beautiful clear ice, well now you know how to make it. Give it a go and share your experience below.
Rob is a passionate home bar and pub shed enthusiast with a passion for craft beer. With hands-on experience in designing and building his own home bar, Rob shares his knowledge, tips, and inspiration to help fellow enthusiasts create their own perfect space. Alongside the world of home bars and pub sheds, Rob also explores the diverse and exciting realm of craft beer, providing honest reviews to help you discover your next favorite brew. Join Rob on a journey of flavor, design, and craftsmanship right here on Home Bar Kit.