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UncleSonny

My dumbest quarantine hobby - making clear ice

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So like a lot of people my drinking has increased in the past 6 months or so. For some reason it makes me feel better about it to treat it like a hobby, so I'm now following a ton of cocktail IGs and constantly reading and watching videos on it. This led me inevitably to start caring about clear ice and I've been trying to perfect it. 

I didn't buy the clear ice molds, so I've been using the cooler method. The idea of directional freezing is to freeze top-down using something insulated on the sides. You then take out a large clear block of ice that you can carve up into whatever shape and size you want, large cubes for a rocks glass or long spears for a collins glass or whatever. The online videos usually use a large Coleman hard sided cooler but I don't have the space for that so I've been using an insulated lunchbox thing and it has worked fine, I just get a smaller block out of it. 

Has anyone else gotten into this inane shit?  Any tips/methods you use? I see some people boil the water once or twice but I'm skeptical that matters at all.

It's probably a waste of time but it's strangely become something I think about a lot. And a beautiful hand carved cube in my bourbon glass just makes me happier than the cloudy shit that came from a silicon mold did.

Edited by UncleSonny

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I just bought the large square and sphere silicone molds and use distilled water covered on top with the layer of plastic wrap. Works well

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I have a friend who is an (currently unemployed) ice sculptor. As a side hustle he makes ice cubes and sells them to high-end cocktail bars for something like $1 a cube (which makes me wonder what the upcharge is for the consumer). He sometimes gives me a trey of them and I feel like the fanciest fuck in all of the land when I'm drinking an old fashioned with a crystal-fucking-clear ice cube.

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Instagram really wants me to get into this.  I get the ad for the sphere mold things at least once a day.  Will probably pull trigger one night soon after one too many.  When that inevitably occurs I will report back.  As of now I just have a large silicon cube tray that I received as a stocking stuffer aa few years ago.  Which works just fine if you don’t get impatient and pull them before they have completely frozen, and it takes 24+ hours for them to completely freeze.

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2 minutes ago, Gene Parmesan said:

Clear ice is okay, but Sonic ice is what you should be striving for.

Bourbon on the rocks using sonic ice will leave you with a bourbon/water w/no ice in about 2 minutes.

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1 hour ago, jeevsie said:

Haven't thought about this in years, but I thought boiling made all the difference?

I haven't tried it but I think if you use boiled water in a normal tray or mold it will take out some of the gas and clear it up a bit, but you'll still get some cloudiness in the middle. Can't get all the air/gas out and when it freezes from every side it ends up in the cube. 

To get fully clear ice you need to do the directional freezing. I guess boiling + directional freezing is the best but if you are already doing the directional thing I don't know if it's worth it really. 

IMG_0133.jpg.bff75c9303eafeb11c524bc92f1ee73c.jpg

Comparison of clear cube on the left and on the right of a cube using normal filtered water in a silicon tray. 

 

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2 hours ago, conVINCEd said:

Bourbon on the rocks using sonic ice will leave you with a bourbon/water w/no ice in about 2 minutes.

Unless you muddle some mint, sugar, and bitters in it then it's delicious 

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1 hour ago, Baboontyme said:

So...I guess my question is "why"

It just looks cool?

I think he referenced it in the OP.  Makes him feel like less of a drunk when he gets all sophistimicated about his drinking.

Edited by Sbbruin

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Since I like hillbilly engineering I will toss my two cents in as a starting point that I think might get you a good ways down the road.  Since directional freezing seems a key component, along with water quality let's tackle the tougher of the two, as they have distilled water all day long.  

1) Buy a large rock tumbler and put it in my outside freezer.  Toughest part may be keep vacuum with the freezer seal. If I am obsessed I am getting a drill and going through the side, and resealing the hole with AC mastic for air tight seal.

2) find small round balloons, rinse them out very well and fill them with the distilled water.  

3) Place a few balloons loosely in the tumbler container, and turn it on. I was thinking that if you only put a few in the container they could roll around and randomly directionally freeze? 

4) Peel the balloon off and enjoy your "near sphere" clear cubes!

I guess my big assumptions are that the balloon will peel off easily?  I can't decide if the ice will stick firmly to the ballon, if so I imagine just holding the sphere in your hand a second to re-soften the rubber, would allow it to peel.  The other assumption is the balloons don't burst and fry the tumbler.  I thought about taking the sphere molds, plugging the hole and build some sort of mount within a cylinder for the tumbler to turn, but what the hell is more hillbilly than balloons and a rock tumbler!

spacer.png

6 lb capacity can get you enough cubes to get pretty lit

Edited by horn4life

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1 hour ago, UncleSonny said:

I haven't tried it but I think if you use boiled water in a normal tray or mold it will take out some of the gas and clear it up a bit, but you'll still get some cloudiness in the middle. Can't get all the air/gas out and when it freezes from every side it ends up in the cube. 

To get fully clear ice you need to do the directional freezing. I guess boiling + directional freezing is the best but if you are already doing the directional thing I don't know if it's worth it really. 

IMG_0133.jpg.bff75c9303eafeb11c524bc92f1ee73c.jpg

Comparison of clear cube on the left and on the right of a cube using normal filtered water in a silicon tray. 

 

Hot water can also be made to freeze faster than cold water

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11 minutes ago, horn4life said:

Since I like hillbilly engineering I will toss my two cents in as a starting point that I think might get you a good ways down the road.  Since directional freezing seems a key component, along with water quality let's tackle the tougher of the two, as they have distilled water all day long.  

1) Buy a large rock tumbler and put it in my outside freezer.  Toughest part may be keep vacuum with the freezer seal. If I am obsessed I am getting a drill and going through the side, and resealing the hole with AC mastic for air tight seal.

2) find small round balloons, rinse them out very well and fill them with the distilled water.  

3) Place a few balloons loosely in the tumbler container, and turn it on. I was thinking that if you only put a few in the container they could roll around and randomly directionally freeze? 

4) Peel the balloon off and enjoy your "near sphere" clear cubes!

I guess my big assumptions are that the balloon will peel off easily, which I imagine would be helping just holding the sphere in your hand a second to re-soften the rubber.  THe other assumption is the balloons don't burst and fry the tumbler.  I thought about taking the sphere molds, plugging the hole and build some sort of mount within a cylinder for the tumbler to turn, but what the hell is more hillbilly than balloons and a rock tumbler!

spacer.png

6 lb capacity can get you enough cubes to get pretty lit

Holy smokes you over thought that!

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32 minutes ago, Baboontyme said:

So...I guess my question is "why"

It just looks cool?

Pretty fair question. It's supposed to melt more slowly, the idea that the air causes the ice to lose it temperature faster than ice solidly packed with only water molecules. Good for controlling dilution of your drink, etc. I have noticed that this does seem to be true. 

I've also read getting the air out of the ice also helps with the taste, the air can pick up flavor from the freezer and that goes into your drink as it melts. I have no doubt that's probably true but honestly I probably don't have the palate to pick up something that subtle.

So yes, some practical reasons but mostly it looks cool, the process is kind of fun, and I'm bored. It's a good feeling to make a drink for my wife or a guest and aesthetically it looks great. 

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35 minutes ago, UncleSonny said:

It's a good feeling to make a drink for my wife or a guest and aesthetically it looks great. 

I prefer to go for the gag ice when entertaining guests.

 

Edited by Sbbruin

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6 hours ago, UncleSonny said:

Pretty fair question. It's supposed to melt more slowly, the idea that the air causes the ice to lose it temperature faster than ice solidly packed with only water molecules. Good for controlling dilution of your drink, etc. I have noticed that this does seem to be true. 

I've also read getting the air out of the ice also helps with the taste, the air can pick up flavor from the freezer and that goes into your drink as it melts. I have no doubt that's probably true but honestly I probably don't have the palate to pick up something that subtle.

So yes, some practical reasons but mostly it looks cool, the process is kind of fun, and I'm bored. It's a good feeling to make a drink for my wife or a guest and aesthetically it looks great. 

I mean, that’s all bullshit.....

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I've had similar thoughts as the OP re: making cocktails during the pandemic.  My experiments with different cocktails, ingredients, methods, and gadgets have become a regular Friday event.  To that end, I just ordered the Wintersmiths clear ice ball and ice cube contraption; should arrive in a few days.  I watched a ton of clear ice videos before ordering it.  I'll report back on its performance after giving it a go.

https://www.wintersmiths.com/

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Goal is to remove dissolved impurities. Start with distilled water so there’s no trace salts or chlorine/fluorine. Boiling it will release the naturally dissolved gasses.

that should give you the best results for whichever freezing method you use. 

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Yes! I’ve been doing the same thing. I have a deep freeze and I put a cooler in there after letting it sit for a day. Then freeze for a few day’s and cut up into cubes. I always have a bucket I. The freezer of large clear cubes.

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1 hour ago, Jimbaround said:

Yes! I’ve been doing the same thing. I have a deep freeze and I put a cooler in there after letting it sit for a day. Then freeze for a few day’s and cut up into cubes. I always have a bucket I. The freezer of large clear cubes.

What do you cut it with?

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On 9/12/2020 at 10:00 PM, conVINCEd said:

What do you cut it with?

I score it with a serrated bread knife and then use a rubber mallet to knock the blocks off.  I get more irregular pieces than perfect cubes, but the effect is still the same.

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