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Old 09-11-2015, 07:56 PM   #1
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Question About Ice for Ice Sculptures

Tossed it here in General Cooking because I didn't know where else to put it.

How do they get such clear ice?

When I freeze water it always has bubbles and/or a haze to it.
True I really only make ice cubes but I wonder what makes the glass perfect ice used in sculptures?

Do they vibrate while freezing to remove entrenched air?
Is the tempreture and/or speed of freezing a factor?
Is the water filtered through a special medium to attain clarity?

I did a search here and came up with this thread.

Ice sculpting/carving

Notice the bear has imperfections you don't usually see.

TL mentioned boiling the water before freezing.

Is that all there is to it?

Lots of boiling and large containers to product those big blocks of crystal clear ice we see used for those fine sculptures.

Yeah I could Google away but I figured it would be fun to throw it out to you good folks for the answer.

I'm sure it's in the collective DC knowledge base somewhere.


Oh and I found this gem while searching.
Recipe Review: Ice Cubes

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Old 09-12-2015, 07:35 AM   #2
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I remember boiling the water being mentioned in one of the shows I watched a long time ago on ice sculptures. First thing that popped into my head as soon as I read your question before I continued reading the rest of your post.
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Old 09-12-2015, 07:46 AM   #3
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liquid water "contains / absorbs" gases - "air"

there are multiple tricks for producing a few "clear" ice cubes at home - a mega-block for ice carving is a bit outside of home-doable.

big long explanation omitted, this guys does it better:
The weird science of ice and how to make “Premium Ice” at home
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Old 09-12-2015, 09:19 AM   #4
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"We're gonna need a bigger freezer" - Roy Scheider
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Old 09-12-2015, 12:52 PM   #5
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Thanks for the link dc.

Looks like timing is the biggest factor. I was guessing faster and colder but his explanation makes sense.

I find it interesting they vibrate/agitate the water in the center then toss the middle.
Hmmmm... Do they have a device for this or do they just jiggle the whole block while freezing?

Thanks for the knowledge peoples.
Looks like to much work for me for a simple ice cube.
Although I might have to look into the devices used in commercial production simply because they sound kinda cool. (Pun intended)
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Old 09-12-2015, 01:49 PM   #6
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a foodery where we lived long ago was run by a Chef who held a couple bizillion championship titles in ice carving - you could see his "set-up" at the restaurant. he had tanks like you see here (no clue if they were the same maker, but....):


if you watch the video (skip ahead, it moves a bit slow....) it takes three days to freeze a block.

same kind of design/info here
Block Ice Maker |

clear ice cubes with the hole in the center use a different process - water is trickled over cold "boxes" and freezes on the sides, then the metal "box" is flash heated and the square cubes with holes pushed out.

I suspect the controlling factor is not time itself - but getting any air / gases out of the water, and as much 'contaminates' i.e. dissolved minerals, etc. out of the water to avoid ice crystals growing on 'seeds' - which creates the cloudy effect.... hence the long slow agitation - allowing time for the air to escape....

I guess there is a limited market for the large carving blocks - hence the long slow process - no commercial demand for 'fast' crystal clear ice.
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Old 09-12-2015, 01:58 PM   #7
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Years ago I was the catering manager of a high end hotel. Part of the position was ordering ice sculptures for special events be it corporate or a wedding. I loved watching the chef use the chain saws to sculpt these magnificent pieces. He'd spend hours in this big freezer room. Many would be surprised how much artistic skill goes into the pieces . It's a real art.
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Old 09-12-2015, 02:21 PM   #8
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dc, I agree that getting the impurities out is key.

But it looks like the slow freeze is a major part of that as the ice seems to want to push them out itself if given the time to do so.

You would think that agitation would stir up the impurities and spread them throughout the ice but it makes sense if it gives the crystals more time to push the impurities out.

Didn't watch the vid as I am in the stone age as far as internet connections go and it would take about a week to download a 23 min. vid.

FF, It most defiantly is art.
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