Clear ice balls melt at a much slower rate than ice cubes and thus, don’t water down drinks, go perfectly with whiskey and cola, iced coffee, and lowball mixed drinks.
There are 5 ways to make clear ice balls at home:
- Carving Ice Balls
- Plastic Molds/Directional Freezing
- Ice Balls Press
- Balloon Technique
- Using Silicon Trays
1. Carving Ice Balls
Take a small, cheap cooler and fill it with 3/4water (use either tap water and boil it twice, or distilled or purified water). Put the cooler in the freezer (without putting the lid on) and let it sit there for the next 18 to 20 hours. Once the time is up, take the cooler out and let the ice thaw for 5 to 10 minutes to make it easier for the ice block to slide out.
Place a towel or a cloth on the kitchen countertop and place the ice block on it. Use a plastic mallet and a knife to break down the block. Wear protective eyewear and gloves to prevent hurting yourself in the process.
Slowly tap the knife at a spot where you want the ice block to break with the mallet (warning: do not hit too hard, otherwise the block will fall apart into a million pieces). Then, take a chunk of ice and start carving it with the knife until an ice ball is formed.
2. Plastic Molds/Directional Freezing
Take a plastic ice ball mold and fill it with water. Seal the hole on the top of the mold with fingers and invert the mold so the hole is now pointing downwards, then put the mold on a flat surface, ideally a stainless steel tray. This process is called directional freezing and it encourages the freezing to start at the top and gradually descend, making the air bubbles come out, which results in a pristine, crystal-clear, bubble-free ice ball. The mold should sit in the freezer for the next 18-24 hours.
3. Ice Balls Press
Use a simple cooler to make ice blocks, take them out after 18-20 hours, and then put them one by one in an ice ball press. An ice ball press uses force to press the ice and turns it into an ice ball. Typically made of aluminum or metal, this press produces perfectly shaped balls with practically no effort and it is capable of making 30 ice balls per hour.
4. Balloon Technique
Take a balloon, fill it with water, tie it carefully and find a place in your freezer to hang it. After 12 hours, spheres will form. Take the balloon out, slice it off, and a beautifully shaped sphere will come out.
5. Silicon Trays
Take a wire and make a loop in the middle large enough to fit a silicone ball ice mold in it. Then, find a small pot, place the wire along with the mold on top of it, then fill the pot with water. Make sure the water reaches just up to the wire. Fill the silicone mold with water but make sure the hole is faced down (directional freezing, again) and place it on top of the water, right in the loop. This will prevent the water from the mold from running down into the pot.
Put the pot in the freezer and let it sit for several hours. The water will freeze gradually, and the first part to freeze will be – the mold. This way, impurities, and trapped air will get out into the pot through a hole, while the ice ball will stay perfectly clear. Remove the pot from the freezer, carefully take the silicone mold out and uncover the ice ball.
If you don’t have a dedicated clear ice maker at home but still want clear ice balls, apply at least one of these easy methods that teach you how to make clear ice balls. If you want to learn more about ice making, we’re here to help!