Clear Ice and My Ice Ball Press
Clear ice and an iceball press. It doesn't get any cooler than this!
I recently became obsessed with ice ball presses/makers and then fell into the rabbit hole of clear ice making. When I surfaced I landed on the simplest clear ice process I could find.
Why clear ice? Why an ice ball press? Your cocktails will just look that much cooler regardless of how good/bad you are as a bartender mixologist. Plus it’s a great conversation piece and gift for the person who has everything.
What I landed on was the simplest process I came across. I’ve been making clear ice this way for a few months, and I can safely say the process works, it’s simple, and the results are great.
The one controversy out there is what type of water to use. There are many people out there saying you need to use distilled, boiled, or bottled water, but I can say I’ve been using tap water with no problems. The only issue is if you don’t like the taste of your tap water.
You’ll need a Coleman six-pack cooler or officially the Coleman 5-Quart Fliplid Personal Cooler for clear ice. Later you’ll also need a bread knife, a small hammer, and I’d recommend cutting gloves to protect your hands when cutting and handling the ice.
After you’ve cleaned the cooler out, remove the lid; you won’t need it for this process at all. Fill the cooler within an inch of the top, place it in your freezer (without the lid), and give it 24 hours uninterrupted to freeze.
After 24 hours, check the ice depth and leave it in until you’ve frozen the top ¼-1/3 of the cooler water; adjust your time up or down as required to achieve the desired thickness.
What we’re doing with this process is insulating the water, with the cooler on the sides and bottom, and freezing the water from the top-down, pushing air and impurities down to the bottom and out of the ice. Ideally, you don’t want to let it freeze all the way through. You’ll need to stop when you’ve got a depth of ice you can use. Keep in mind thicker ice can be harder to cut evenly.
After draining the water and pulling the slab from the cooler, you can see the clear ice on the top and some thinner ice built up at the bottom; just cut this thin ice away.
When you’re ready to cut, get your gloves, bread knife, and small hammer ready. Score the slab and use the hammer to tap and cut the ice. Of course, this time, it won’t cut even, but when that happens, keep cutting and then cut the ice cubes out of the even sections. You can save the shards and uneven pieces in a separate freezer bag and use them for less impressive drinks.
If you want a thicker slab, you’ll need to freeze it more, and you’ll have more ice at the bottom to cut away. You can see here on this slab how cloudy the bottom is because we’ve frozen the air and some impurities, and see how nice and clear the top is. I’ll cut the bottom off and cut the clear section into larger cubes for the ice ball press.
My original journey started with a search for ice mold alternatives, and now that I had worked the kinks out of making clear ice, I was even more motivated to get an ice ball press.
The Ice Ball press uses two solid pieces of aluminum with a mold in the middle. The ice ball press uses the conductive properties of the aluminum pieces to transfer the heat and melt the ice into the mold shape, in this case, a 55mm 2 ¼” perfect ice ball.
The cool thing is that it uses No batteries or electricity; it’s just physics. It’s a cool conversation piece, and it’ll literally work for years.
Start by placing the press in a tray; it doesn’t come with its own or the sink to capture the melting ice.
Depending on the ambient air temperature, you may need to warm the press up in advance. Don’t make it too hot, or you’ll crack the ice. Place the chunk of align the molds and let physics do all the work.
If it slows down near the end, give the top section and quick warm rinse to bring up the temperature, and it’ll finish off nicely.
When it’s done, you have a perfectly formed sphere. You can use regular ice or clear ice; the clear ice looks the coolest. I also have standard large ice cube molds and make regular ice cubes as well when I don’t have clear ice available.
That’s my experience with clear ice and the ice ball press, the perfect gift or accessory for the person who has everything!
Watch my YouTube video below for more details.
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