Introduction: How to Cast Clear Ice!
This will demonstrate how clear ice may be produced at home. The real secret is to keep the water moving. Slow moving water may freeze to fast where, fast moving water may freeze to slow. Sometimes the application of tiny amounts of heat at the circulatory end is needed. This facilitates the slowing of the freezing process and insures a bottom up freeze. Your equipment is easy to get and once a small chest freezer is found your good to go. Luge, columns, spheres and plates may all be produced, prepped and stockpiled in small home use quantities. I will not cover carving or sculpting as these are abundant on other sites. At this writing my position is sous chef at a vineyard and winery in the central mid-west. Some of the pictures show my works walk in coolers and freezers. The actual casting is done the pictured 7.0 cubic foot chest freezer you would use at home. The picture is an example of what you may do simply. No carving. No sculpting. No fancy electronics. JUST ICE.
Step 1: Equipment
1 chest freezer.......................................... free-180.00
1 aquarium power head...modified...... free- 19.00
1 6" X 2.5' length SS duct for hvac...modified... 6.95
1 6" SS duct cap 4.85
1 tube clear silicone, squeeze type................................ 2.95
some form of insulating cap...foam, cardboard...etc.. free
siphon or large baster..............check the kitchen......... free
1 strip aluminum or other hanger for power head... 6.95
low end 21.70
high end 200.70
Most of this equipment can be found for free or nearly so.
Step 2: Supplies...
filtered tap water.....
Step 3: Process 1
The 6" X 2.5' length SS duct tube is modified by having someone remove the fluted end, for easy ice removal later, and placing three cuts there the same depth as the cap.
Wear gloves when handling this, it is VERY sharp.
By carefully pushing the tube into the cap, folding the tube at the cuts gently, you will be able to create a smoother surface for the ice. mounting the two pieces into one unit, apply the silicone to the inside seams by wiping away the excess smoothly and layering sufficient amounts to the outside as to make water tight. This stuff can be messy, good luck. That completes the hard and dangerous part .
Step 4: Process 2
Open the power head and remove the impeller. This unit has six blades that will not do what we want. Removing every other one helped my project yet, delivered more circulation than the freeze time:GPH ratio needed. ( see pic ) Considering this, I removed 2/3rds of each of the remaining vanes and at last....success.
Step 5: " the Main Event "
We want the mold to freeze from the bottom up and sides in. The insulating cap on my unit was enough to maintain sufficient heat from the motor to slow surface freezing on top of the mold. I had to add a wire spacer at the bottom of the freezer to keep the mold from sitting on the bottom of the freezer unit.
Mount the modified power-head on the edge of the tubes open end. Point the output tube into the near middle. Fill the tube, which should now be approximately 28 inches high, with a 1/2 gal measure of ice cubes then tap water. Plug in your power-head and adjust the water level up to the top of the output tube. The water should just cover this while running. Some of these pumps need priming to start, this is normal. Just tap the open end of the output tube to force water to flow and removing the air in the impeller area at the same time. Replace the insulating cap and close the lid on the freezer.
My unit takes approximately 2.5 to 3 days in a cool storage room to set the ice. Using a ruler to plumb the depths on day two should give you a depth result on ice formation. Remember to turn the freezer to its coldest setting. The best time to catch the ice is at about 3 inches of freeze (3" from the open top of the mold till your ruler hits ice).
Siphon or baster away the dirty water and using towels or gloves move the entire mold with motor to a refrigerator if available or a work area to rest. The more consistent the rise in heat and the less shock the more likely you are to reduce the number of stress cracks from temperature differential. The top few inches will not be clear ice. This is sacrificed to save the clear ice in the bottom portion. Once cut away (think camper, bow or gardeners trim saw) wrap the ice in saran wrap and store back in freezer till needed.
Step 6: Build It
You see a obloid sphere in some of the pictures. This is a water balloon placed in a steel bowl and frozen for 12 - 18 hours. They are hollow when a thin area is broken out and they are drained. It is used here to illustrate what can be done with simple ideas.
By placing colored or clear LED flashlights and battery operated Christmas lights under or behind or inside different effects can be created....tea light maybe. Fire and ice.
The Sphere and the column are two separate pieces that were joined by temperature difference. Column was slightly warmer than the sphere. The addition of my hands heat to melt the column top just before seating the sphere caused them to fuse into one piece. These are placed on top of two bar type LED flashlights wrapped in saran wrap buried in ice in a box lined with a trash bag.
Enjoy and have fun! Always imagine.