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How To Make Clear Ice Cubes

Updated on May 30, 2010

Apparently you've noticed what a number of other people have also noticed ... that when you get ice cubes in a drink at a restaurant, they're sparkling clear. When you make ice cubes in trays in your own home, they are white or a more murky color. So you're wondering why that is. And more importantly, you want to know what you can to make clear ice cubes in your home. Making clear ice cubes at home is difficult but it's not impossible. It requires using the right products to start off with and using the right freezing process.

One of the main reasons that ice cubes in restaurants are clear and your own ice cubes are not is because the restaurant ice cubes start off as much purer than what you're probably using in your home. Most people just take their frozen ice cube trays and run them under their tap water and then stick that in the freezer. If you've ever looked at a glass of your tap water, you'll know that the swirling things inside it aren't exactly conducive to making clear ice cubes. The water itself isn't clear, how would the ice cubes ever be clear?

So the first thing that you need to do to make clear ice cubes is to use clear water. This means that you should use distilled water. Buy the pure stuff in the bottle at the store. If it's clear in the bottle, it's going to be clear in a glass. But don't stop there. You should take the pure water that you've bought, put it in a clean pan (preferably one rinsed out with this same water) and boil it. This helps to get rid of all of the excess minerals that can cloud up your water and make your ice cubes less clear.

Starting off with clear water is only the first part of the process for making clear ice cubes. The other part is the freezing process. If you really want to get clear ice cubes every time, you're going to need to throw out the cheap plastic ice cube trays that came with your freezer and invest in a pricier kind. No, it's not because more expensive is equivalent to better. It's because you need a specific kind of ice cube tray to make clear ice cubes. You see, part of that clear quality comes from the way that the ice forms. A clear ice cube is formed in layers with low exposure to air during the cooling process. You can purchase special trays and contraptions that will help with this.

If you don't want to foot the bill for special trays, you can increase the clarity of your ice cubes by using clean trays and a slow cooling process. Professional restaurants use a cooling system that involves circulating the water so that it's running as it cools. You can create a system like this in your home if you're creative. If not, stick with metal ice trays which you clean with purified water before every use. Add the distilled and boiled water and freeze. You're ice cubes may not be restaurant-quality clear but they should be a lot clearer than they have been in the past.

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  • profile image

    Sergio Freddson 2 years ago

    I never realized this process was complicated! I guess I always just thought you could make clear ice with clear water. Is this process reasonable to do on a regular basis or is it more for parties and such? I like clear ice but would rather not spend too much time making it in my own home. Thanks for sharing these tips! http://www.icemakers.com.au/icemachines/scotsman-i...

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    Akiko 3 years ago

    I make perfectly clear ice cubes using just tap water, and no boiling. The trick is freezing things slowly and in layers.. So, I use a personal cooler, one that holds about a 6 pack of cans. I use one of those jumbo silicone ice cube trays.. the one I use is made by Trovolo. I put the tray into the cooler, and fill the tray and the cooler with water, until the water is just above the ice tray.. then I put it in the freezer. I do this with the lid removed from the cooler.. Because the cooler is insulated on the sides, the water is slowly frozen in layers from the top to the bottom of the cooler.. This process takes a long time, about 24 hours, but it produces a clear cube.. Sometimes you can get slight bubbling on the bottom, but that can easily be melted away, and then put the cubes back in the freezer.. You can also use other ice molds that are longer such as something that is 4 inches long instead of 2 inches long, and then cut the cubes to size. I cut ice cubes with one of those old wire cheese slicers dipped in boiling water..

  • Phil Riley profile image

    Phil Riley 4 years ago from Nuneaton, Warwickshire

    ITs all about the speed!

    Your home freezer, freezes it too fast forming a layer of ice firstly on the edges, trapping air bubbles in the centre.

    The machines freeze the water slowly in layers.

    Simples

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    B. J 5 years ago

    Nice hub, but how can someone brand ice cubes?

  • profile image

    ballab 5 years ago

    careful when using distilled water..in large quantities it destroys red blood cells, which is why people don't drink distilled water. And most of the super clear ice cubes you see in commercials/movies are, sadly, fake (props).

  • profile image

    samantha 5 years ago

    i like to do this ....

  • profile image

    Md Idrish Ansari 5 years ago

    Nice tips for domestic perpose...

  • Sinea Pies profile image

    Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

    This is facinating, Kathryn! I never gave it much thought but you are right...the restaurant version is clear and so nice to look at. Probably helps the drink to taste better, as well. I have to try this! Voted up and interesting...and I am facebooking it to my blog followers. They'll love it too!

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    zaria 5 years ago

    i want to know how to make the ice totally white...any ideas

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    duh 5 years ago

    dis doesn't look like it shows how to make a ice cube ;(

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    Just me 5 years ago

    Who cares how your icecubes look like? As long as it gets the job done to keep your drink cool long enough until you finish it :/

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    Dan 5 years ago

    Giuseppe is correct, the 'how' to remove the air is the issue.

    Best way I've found so far is to simply put clean filtered water in a small ice chest, remove the top and put it in the freezer. This works WAY better than the boiling method. The insulation on the bottom and sides makes the water freeze from the top down, just like in a pond or lake. The freezing process is slower as well. As the water freezes the air and other impurities are slowly pushed down. The result is a large block of clear ice the cloudy ice at the bottom where it can be removed. If you want you can put a plastic screen or sheet with holes 1/4 or 1/2" from the bottom for easier separation of the cloudy ice from the clear.

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    Giuseppe 5 years ago

    you are all missing the point... the reason ice cubes look cloudy is due to the oxygen in the water.... remove the oxygen .. clear ice cubes... simple

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    Rdg 6 years ago

    I think white ice is due to over freezing. Ice machines freeze at one temp then dump

    and store at another. When dumped to storage I believe the cube is not all the way frozen in the center.. Well I don't know this for sure but with my experience with ice, it seems to make sence

  • rikabothra profile image

    rikabothra 6 years ago

    Its interesting hoe something that looks so easy can be so complicated! great hub...

  • profile image

    Dave 6 years ago

    Boiling the water will reduce dissolved air but actually will *concentrate* minerals and sediments that won't evaporate.

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    Larry 6 years ago

    I also read that its optional to use a britta filter and have some success making clear ice cubes at http://www.schoolofhowto.com/clear-ice/

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    hans 6 years ago

    Like restaurants boil their water for ice....

  • ekenzy profile image

    ekenzy 6 years ago

    teach me more . i need this

  • HubArticles profile image

    HubArticles 6 years ago from Vancouver

    Thanks for the cool info, I've always wanted to get those super clear cubes like you see on TV commercials.

  • Time4Travel profile image

    Time4Travel 6 years ago from Canada

    Never knew there was a special technique for getting clear ice cubes!

  • htodd profile image

    htodd 6 years ago from United States

    Thanks for sharing details

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    iluvla 6 years ago

    The REAL reason that restaurant ice cubes are clearer has nothing to do with the water purity AT ALL. I own several restaurants and several different brands of commercial ice makers. The Japanese makers, Hoshizaki in particular, make the clearest ice. It also happens that the one that makes the clearest ice is in the location with the hardest water. It's not the water, it's the method the ice maker uses to freeze the water. This machine runs very cold water over the freezing plates very quickly and the ice forms similarly to an icicle, which is little by little with water that is already near freezing. Ice cubes in your home refrigerator freeze from the outside in, nothing like the "icicle" method that produces these clear cubes. Incidentally, Hoshizaki ice cubes are crystal clear with no bubbles whatsoever, almost regardless of the water quality.

  • creativelycc profile image

    Carrie L. Cronkite 6 years ago from Maine

    Cool, I'll try it!

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    Alice 6 years ago

    All these tips for making clear ice is great for a holiday project that I make every year-

    I make ice candle holders and having clear ice is a deffinite plus! Very simple to make and they look great! You will need 2 containers - 1 large one smaller- and some rocks. I start with about 1/4 inch of water in the large can- freeze it- put some rocks in the smaller container (for weight) add water to the large can after first layer is frozen- then you will place the smaller can in the middle - water will rise around it (that is why you need the rocks for weight) put container in the freezer- in about an hour check on it. The water should be getting kind of thick- this is when you add some decorations- cedar greens, colourfull beads, ornaments- whatever you like- put back in freezer till solid. To remove the centre can you will need to put some hot water in it to loosen it up enough to pull it out- run hot water on the oustside of the large can so you can pull it off- you will then have a nice center piece or ornament for your door step- place a candle inside the "well" and light it up- if you live in a cold climate it is nice to make a couple of these and place on your doorstep as a warm welcome- if you do use it inside remember to have a plate or dish to collect the water as your candle holder melts- enjoy-

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    Jennifer 6 years ago

    This is the best way to make clear ice-- When the temperature is lower than 32 degrees take freshly fallen snow, then put it in my vegetable steamer and catch the steam into a measuring cup. Then I pour the contents of the measuring cup (while still hot- very important) into silicone ice cube trays and I set them in a jelly roll pan filled with rubbing alcohol (it can be anything with a low freezing point). Then I put the whole pan outside for 10 hours-- the ice cubes look like you got them at pizza hut or another restaurant!

  • Mr4XTrading3 profile image

    Mr4XTrading3 6 years ago

    Cool Hub!! I enjoy learning new and somewhat useless facts. I'm sure it is a good read for others like me who are curious about the world we live in. I also did not realize hot water would freeze more quickly until now.

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    Lynda -Bailey 6 years ago from South Los Angeles

    Great Hub!! I an still pondering why hot water freezes faster than cold but my college chemistry instructor confirmed that it does happen.

  • henrykasan profile image

    henrykasan 6 years ago from UK

    Good Hub!!!!!!

    It is common desire of every one to get crystal clear ice cubes, which provides terrific visual delight. As mentioned in the hub a clear ice cube is formed in layers with low exposure to air during the cooling process. In this regard the person can purchase special trays and contraptions that will help for this cause. Thanks a lot for sharing such an informative peace of text. Keep on hubbing.

  • Eugene Sung profile image

    Eugene Sung 6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

    I highly disagree. I don't know what restaurants you go to, but the ones I go to never have clear ice cubes... maybe it's just because I live in Philadelphia and the water isn't that good here? :/

  • profile image

    Sam 7 years ago

    I have an ice luge and needed to find a way to get it to be crystal clear and not look all cloudy and like it has cracks in it. I will definitely try this! Thanks!

  • lender3212000 profile image

    lender3212000 7 years ago from Beverly Hills, CA

    Thanks! I always wondered how some of those restaurants got those beautiful, clear ice cubes. Now I'm going to have to give it a try at home!

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    naturelover64 7 years ago

    Must try my hand at this - making clear ice cubes. Thanks Kathryn

  • brightgirl profile image

    brightgirl 7 years ago

    Wow! This is so cool..

    I'll try to make one at home.

    Chill!

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    party pooper 7 years ago

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_OXM4mr_i0

    Just a thought, be careful when boiling distilled water. Because it's distilled it doesn't have the same impurities that make regular tap water visibly boil, adding impurities makes it boil all at once.

  • adorababy profile image

    adorababy 7 years ago from Syracuse, NY

    Thank you for the tips. I was also wondering for about the restaurant ice cubes so sparkling for quite a while now. I can't wait to try this at home.

  • 4FoodSafety profile image

    Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Fontana, WI

    Too many commercial ice machines have filters that are not changed. If you ice tastes funny, isn't clear, ask the hotel/management. An important hub.

  • profile image

    Judy 7 years ago

    i love ice too, and i learn how to cook it from twitter,well,thanks for your share

  • deredel profile image

    deredel 7 years ago

    Really Great Hub Kathy.. Thanks for presenting such a wonderful hub. Continue hubbing...

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    Cougar 7 years ago

    Wow, this thread has been getting nibbles over the past few years. You've probably Googled how clear ice machines work. That is what restaurants use. You can also buy small models for your home from GE, Kenmore, KitchenAid, etc. Water is circulated continuously over an evaporator. Pure water freezes first, which is crystal clear. Just like an icicle hanging from your roof. When the ice has reached the right size a harvest cycle dumps it off the evaporator into the ice bin. The water that is left contains a high concentration of minerals, as the ice has hardly any at all. This water is released down the drain or diluted to start the next cycle, depending on model. This type of ice machine can even make crystal clear ice from regular unfiltered tap water because of the running water over the evaporator. This process also creates a very high volume of ice. The cycle for each batch takes only about 10 minutes. The ice that is made is also never kept in a "Freezer". It is always continuously melting in its highly insulated ice bin. Very cool stuff. Some grocery store bagged ice is also made this way. If you see a big unit above it, the ice is actually made there, automatically bagged, and dumped in the bin below. This bin is actually kept frozen.

  • askjanbrass profile image

    askjanbrass 7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Wow, I didn't realize there was such a science behind getting perfectly clear ice cubes. I don't know that I would be interested in putting forth all the effect, but it's a great explanation and a super Hub posting. Cheers!

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    AzraX 7 years ago

    i love ice, aim very particular that the ice i drink is clear and not whitish. how to make clear ice? the way i do it is simple. just use tap water and the container you could use ice cream container round or square (big ones). fill it up and put it inside your freezer. now there are two ways after this.

    first is wait till the ice in the container froze you will see that the middle part is whitish and the ice on other part except the middle is clear. take a metal spoon, icepick or what ever tool and just crack the edges part and keep it. throw the middle whitish part. the middle whitish part size can be substantially big but that is the price you pay for wanting clear ice. do not use ice tray. those are too small and naturally almost all become whitish.

    second way is you wait till the ice is half frozen and some are still in water form this way the whitish is still not formed but then again some are still water so. the clear ice you got is pretty much about the same.

  • thims profile image

    thims 7 years ago

    The first question I have to ask myself is WHY do I find this hub so interesting?...it's about ice for goodness sakes! It really is rather a cool topic! Clear ice has to be a boon for life!

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    deeli82 8 years ago

    cool, i thought just filtering it will get it that way.

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    rick 8 years ago

    a little too simplified. I collect pure rainwater (filtered twice, then run through a UV lamp for sanitization) and run it through my refrigerator ice maker. It still comes out white at the core, clear on the edge. There is something more to this than just the purity of the water...

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    duncan 8 years ago

    There shouldn't be any minerals in distilled water! Boiling it will drive off O2 from the water.

  • christine almaraz profile image

    christine almaraz 8 years ago from colorado springs

    Interesting hub. I didn't know it took so much work to make a clear ice cube. I've made them by accident a few times.

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    R.K. Duk 8 years ago

    Boiling also tends to precipitate some minerals onto the pan surfaces if their concentration reaches saturation. This is especially noticeable if you are boiling hard water, which contains higher concentrations of calcium and magnesium ions than soft water.

    The most nearly mineral-free water would result from trapping and re-condensing the steam from the boiled water.

  • Lgali profile image

    Lgali 8 years ago

    great hub

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    KMG_365 8 years ago

    Re: "Boiling water cannot remove minerals, in fact boiling water increases the density of minerals."

    Actually the boiling removes the dissolved oxygen in the water which comes out of solution as the water freezes forming micro-bubbles and making the ice look "cloudy".

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    cristian 8 years ago

    thanks now I know now

  • brad4l profile image

    brad4l 8 years ago from USA

    Interesting. I hadn't ever really thought about it, but you are right the ice cubes that you see at a restaurant are typically much clearer than those at home. Next time I am at the store, I am gonna have to buy some water and give it a try...

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    brett 8 years ago

    Boiling water cannot remove minerals, in fact boiling water increases the density of minerals.

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    alex 9 years ago

    Weel now I know how to do my project with making a lense out of ice with clear water!

  • stubbs profile image

    stubbs 9 years ago from London

    yeah great hub! something i always wanted to know and i now i do

  • SunSeven profile image

    SunSeven 9 years ago from Singapore / India

    Thank you so much for this great hub Kathryn.

    I was also wondering how the restaurants produce such clear ice cubes. Thank you for the tips. You are stumbled!

    Best Regards