For the holidays my parents in Norway always like to adorn their house and garden with lights. Not surprisingly most of them are electric, but on special occations my dad also makes ice lanterns with candles inside. It's a simple process that produces some pretty fancy ice lanterns and this year I took pictures along the way to share with the world.
To make these fancy ice lanterns you need:
1. below freezing temperatures (or a really big freezer)
3. a bucket
Step 1: Fill your bucket(s) with water
Find a bucket or three and fill them with cold water. Leave about 3cm or 1 inch of space at the top to allow the ice to expand as it freezes.
Step 2: Put the bucket(s) in a cold place
Place the buckets in a cold place, for example outside in the snow. (I'm sure you can do this by placing the bucket in a freezer as well but it would have to be quite large.) If you place the buckets outside in the snow you can speed up the freezing process by dumping some snow into the water.
Step 3: Let the water freeze - but not completely!
Leave the buckets of water in the cold for a good long while. When we made these it was about minus 12 degrees Celcius (no idea what that is in Fahrenheit) and it took about 24 hours. With warmer weather ("warmer" is a relative term) it'll take longer.
You want the water to freeze to about a 6cm (2 inches) thickness on the top and the sides while the center of the bucket remains liquid. This happens because the water freezes from the outside in. To find out if the lantern is complete look down into the bucket through the ice to gauge how thick the walls. It's a bit of a guessing game but it usually works.
The most important thing is to not let the water freeze solid. If that happens you end up with a big lump of ice and the bucket will more than likely crack.