Does Distilled Water Make Clear Ice?

It's always an amazing experience to go to a bar and buy some whiskey or a cocktail and have it served with completely clear ice. If you want to create clear ice yourself you may be wondering does distilled water make clear ice or is there some other process required for making completely clear ice?

Distilled water alone will not make clear ice. However, distilled water is a crucial ingredient in creating clear ice as it removes impurities that can make ice cloudy. To get completely clear ice use distilled/filtered water and freeze it omni-directionally to push out the bubbles – this is usually done with the help of an insulated cooler.

To make clear ice without a ridiculously expensive machine doing it for you, you need to follow the steps below.

While distilled water does not automatically give you clear ice, it is still necessary for making clear ice. Below, you will find the steps to making both distilled water and clear ice. 

Why Does Distilled Water Make Clearer Ice?

White ice or cloudy ice occurs because of two main factors.

The primary factor is air bubbles caught in the ice and pushed towards the center as the ice freezes. Distiller water does not stop these air bubbles from forming or getting caught in ice. As you can see in the video below pretty much all different types of water created cloudy ice when frozen regularly in a freezer.

The second factor that makes ice appear white or cloudy is minerals or impurities in the water.

Distilled water removes many impurities allowing you to create clear ice easier than if you are using tap water with dissolved minerals and impurities in it. This is the primary reason distilled water is recommended for creating clear ice.

Also many people believe distilled water tastes better and thus it is the ideal choice in high end cocktails or whiskey glasses as when it does ultimately melt and dilute the drink a little bit it gives a better flavor than tap water would.

Read more: Should you use round or square ice in whiskey glasses?

How Do You Make Clear Ice Using Distilled Water?

There are several ways of freezing water to make clear ice at home. However, one method has had the most success. It is freezing your water omnidirectionally. Omni-directional freezing is when water is frozen from only one direction. 

By letting the water freeze from one direction, the impurities and air bubbles are all pushed to one direction, and the center of the ice will be clear.

This is usually done by filling up an insulated cooler with water and placing the entire thing in the freezer. Click here for a guide on how to make clear ice for beginners.

In this case, the ice is frozen from the top because the insulated sizes and base of the cooler protect heat from escaping out the sides.

This causes the air and impurities to move towards the bottom of the ice. The cloudy part of the ice can easily be removed, leaving you with a block crystal-clear ice. 

To freeze water omnidirectionally and create clear ice takes but a couple of steps. First, you will need to have an insulator. In this case, a cooler box with hard sides will do fine. Be sure that the cooler box you use has a removable lid and that it can fit inside your freezer. Here is how you can make clear ice at home.

  • Fill the cooler box with distilled water. Don’t fill it more than ¾ of the way, or you risk letting the cooler box swell. If you wish to make ice cubes or spheres, you can place the distilled water in your molds and suspend the molds in water in the cooler box. 
  • Leave the lid off the cooler box and place it in the freezer. Because the cooler box is insulated, the water will start freezing from the top. Simultaneously, the rest of the water is isolated from the cold.
  • Remove the cooler from the freezer before all the water has frozen. This way, you can take out the clear ice and discard the water that is left with the impurities. Alternatively, you can also let all the water freeze and then cut away the cloudy parts of the ice.
  • Leave the ice at room temperature to melt slightly. This should take between five and thirty minutes. 
  • When the ice has melted slightly, you can remove the ice block from the cooler. If you are using molds, you can now remove your ice from the molds, and it is ready to be used. If you froze the water directly in the cooler box, you could break the ice into chunks by using a hammer. Or you can score the ice with a serrated knife and use an icepick to break the ice into smaller pieces. 
  • If you have let your ice freeze all the way, you will see cloudy parts at the bottom. These can be scraped or cut off, and you will be left with clear ice. 

Although making clear ice at home takes some time and you need to have sufficient freezer space, it delivers a rewarding result. You will be able to impress even the most critical guests. 

How To Make Distilled Water For Clear Ice

The simplest way to get distilled water is to buy water that has already been distilled. You can buy distilled water from your local supermarket but just be careful what brand of water you buy.

Not all bottled water is distilled. You can look at the label to see if your water is purified or not.

Some experts recommend distilling your water anyway just to be sure that it is as clean as possible when you start the freezing process. Below is the most common way to distill tap water.

Make Distilled Water By Boiling Tap Water

To distill tap water at home follow these simple steps:

  • Fill up a large pot with tap water
  • Place a stainless steel, glass or ceramic bowl floating in the water in the pot (do not use plastic)
  • Place the lid upside down on the pot
  • Turn the stove on and leave the water to get extremely hot to create steam

The steam will then condensate on the lid and drop down into the bowl floating in the middle. This water is distilled water.

You can add ice cubes to the outside of the lid of your bowl. The cold from ice cubes will help the steam to condensate more quickly speeding up the distilling process. Just make sure that when the ice cubes melt you do NOT mix it in with the distilled water.

When complete turn off the stove and leave everything to cool. Then pull out your bowl of distilled water and use this to make your clear ice.

Make Distilled Water Using Rainwater Or Snow

Rainwater and snow are both naturally distilled. Collecting snow or rainwater in a sterilized jar will give you distilled water without the need to do anything.

Just make sure you are collecting the snow or rainwater in a safe way and it's not contaminated but it's surroundings.


Distilled water alone will not make clear ice. However, distilled water is a crucial ingredient in creating clear ice. Distilling water helps to remove the impurities. You can make distilled water by boiling tap water twice or collecting the condensate that forms when tap water boils. Rainwater and snow are also naturally distilled.

You can freeze distilled water omnidirectionally to make clear ice. Allowing the water to freeze from one direction will enable the impurities and air to move in the opposite direction. The result will be clear ice. Making clear ice at home is easy. All you need is a cooler box, freezer space, and patience.