Introduction: Ice Lanterns

Making ice lanterns is old family tradition. I make them to decorate the yard. We do not have street lights. The candles burning inside ice lanterns are particularly pretty during evening and night.

We also decorate the family graves at the cemeteries during winter holidays.

To make the ice lanterns you already have all equipment at home and only need freezing outside temperature.

Please note the warning about handling burning candles, particularly if you are doing this with kids.

Step 1: Preparation

You possibly have all equipment needed already at home. You need outside temperature of below freezing. I filled buckets with water and put them outside for overnight. Goal is to freeze the water, but still leave the center liquid. Expansion of ice may break the buckets, if you let them to freeze solid.

Step 2: Removing Water From Ice Hull

Next morning the water surface, sides and bottom were frozen. I used hammer to break a hole on top and poured some water out. Checking the ice thickness, top was solid as well as the sides, but bottom had only very thin ice. I left the buckets for few more hours outside.

Step 3: Removing Ice Lanterns From Buckets

I again used the hammer to make a hole on top and poured all water out. To remove the ice from the buckets bring them indoors for a short time. I was able to pull ice out after 10 minutes. Place a rug under the buckets to prevent damage to flooring.

Step 4: Installing Ice Lanters Outdoors

Remove the ice out of the bucket and flip upside down on ground, in my case on the tree stumps left tall for yard decoration. Now the original hole is at the bottom. Carefully break some ice from the top so that you can place a candle inside the lantern. Make this hole as small as possible so that wind can not blow the candle out. I had to use the hammer to make a hole in the 2nd lantern and I broke big junk off. I placed the piece back and it attached itself. I use 50 hour outdoor oil candles which tolerate wind better than regular candles.

Safety note: Be careful with burning candles not to burn your hands nor start your sleeves on fire. If you are doing this with kids, make sure that there is parental supervision with handling burning candles!

Step 5: Other Uses for Ice Lanters

We traditionally place ice candle lanterns on the family graves in cemeteries during winter holidays.

I am making with the same method ice sculptures with cut roses that no longer look nice for indoors. I freeze ice in the same buckets, starting with only 2 inches (5 cm) of water overnight. After this is frozen I will place the roses upside down on top of the ice, add some cold water to anchor flower heads in the position I want them. Then adding more water to cover as much of the rose stems as I want. Adding water little at a time will allow the water to expand upwards and the buckets will not break even if the water is frozen solid. I will cut too long flower stems and place the flower ice sculptures on the front steps.