So you're looking to make clear ice... you're in luck!
We've tested all the methods out there for how to make clear ice, and let me tell you, there are a lot of them! After all, its common knowledge that having clear ice in the drink or cocktail totally classes things up. There's a reason high end bars and speakeasys all use crystal clear ice.
We could talk all day about the different methods for making clear ice, but figured that instead we would break it down into three categories: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. All these techniques are actually really easy to make clear ice with, but the intermediate and advanced techniques will take more time, supplies, and yield better results. If you're just looking for something super easy and quick to pull off that will instantly upgrade your ice game however, check out out the beginner method.
Beginner: Pure Water
Did you know that minerals, impurities and microscopic bubbles trapped in your water are what cause ice to become cloudy? When the water freezes, all those things become more visible and lead to your ice containing a white center that is not optically clear. One easy way to improve the clarity of your ice is to use water that is free of all those cocktail-spoiling contaminants.
Distilled water is the perfect candidate since it is the purest form of water you can buy. Distilled water is created by boiling water and then collecting the steam as it condenses. This leaves behind any impurities and the resulting water collected is pure H2O. Using distilled water in your ice tray will immediately leave you with clearer ice. You will still get some cloudiness, however the cloudy part will be smaller and clearer. The remaining white part is a result of air trapped in the water, which we will deal with in the intermediate method later in this article.
Did you know that distilled water is particularly good for ice cube making for any spirit connoisseur, that is, someone interested in savoring the all the flavors of their drink? That's because, distilled water has no minerals or other contaminants, meaning while it will water down your drink, it won't impart any additional flavors, so you can enjoy your whiskey, gin, or tequila the way the makers intended.
So where do you get distilled water? That's easy... at the grocery store! That's right, distilled water is inexpensive and easily available at pretty much any grocery store, meaning you can grab some next time you're out stocking up your fridge. What could be easier than that?
So what if you don't have distilled water- are there any alternatives? Well yes, but they aren't quite as good. If you're in a pinch though, you can definitely use them for a classier cocktail night. Filtered water, particularly when filtered by reverse osmosis (RO Water) is the purest and will be the most clear. Other than that, water filtered through a standard Brita Filter will also be an improvement.
Intermediate: Boiling and Cooling
So you're committed to making clear ice, and are willing to put in a little more effort for a little more clarity... awesome! The first thing you should know is you're going to need some distilled or purified water. Like we mentioned above, distilled will work best, but filtered water will definitely be an improvement over tap water.
The trick with this method is that before you put the water into your ice mold, you're going to want to boil it in a clean pot. Remember how in the beginner technique, we used distilled water in an effort to eliminate minerals and contaminants, but we still expected to see some cloudiness due to the tiny air bubbles trapped in the water? Well the reason we are going to be boiling our water in this method is so that we can start to get rid of those air bubbles!
Once on the stove, you're going to want to boil your water for at least 5 minutes, and then let it cool. Remember to keep your pot covered to prevent any debris from settling in the water. If you want to go the extra mile, boil your water for a second time to further release trapped gas.
From here, the procedure is the same- fill and freeze your ice mold. The resulting ice should be about as clear as you can expect without the use of the advanced directional freezing method we will discuss below.
Bonus! Did you know the slower water freezes, the more time trapped gas has to escape? Try turning up the temperature of your freezer to just below freezing to slow down the freezing process. This will help you get even clearer ice! Please keep food safety in mind, and make sure your freezer does not go above the freezing point of water (32F) which will cause everything in your freezer to thaw.
Advanced: Directional Freezing
Here it is: the big one! We should clarify that while this advanced method isn't actually difficult, it does require some additional supplies and you'll need some extra freezer space. That's because this method requires a small cooler that will need to go in your freezer. Hey, it's a great excuse to clean out your freezer!
If you're interested in getting one, this 5 quart Coleman FlipLid Cooler is the smallest, most inexpensive one you can pick up right on Amazon!
The theory behind this method is quite simple: cloudiness in ice occurs at the last section of an ice cube to freeze. So the first part of an ice cube to freeze will be clear- and that's what we're trying to control with this method.
Basically we want to use the insulated properties of the cooler to make sure that the water we place in the cooler freezes top down. This will happen since the sides and bottom of the cooler are insulated, and we will remove the lid so the top isn't.
We put together a quick video showing the basic method:
To summarize, you should follow the below steps:
- Remove the lid of your cooler
- Place an object into your cooler that will allow you to elevate your mold off the base of the cooler.
- Fill the ice mold with water
- Fill the cooler with water so the level of the water is about half an inch under the top of the ice tray
- Place the cooler into your freezer for 24 hours
- Remove the cooler, and carefully extract the ice tray from your cooler
- Remove your ice cubes and enjoy your clear ice!
Fun fact: Did you know that you don't even need to use filtered or purified water for this method to work?
So there it is! You have everything you need to impress your friends with crystal clear ice in their cocktails. Happy bartending!
By the way, if you're looking to get some super high quality customized silicone ice cube mold to make clear ice with, check out our products at the link below: