Large block ice lasts long then regular cubed ice and it can be a great way to keep things cold for an extended period of time. But how can you make block ice at home and it is hard to do?
The good news is it's pretty easy to make block ice at home and there are lots of different methods you can use to do it.
Why Use Block Ice?
Larger blocks of ice last longer and melt slower than cubed ice and a few large blocks of ice in your cooler can often keep things cold for days at a time.
The stack of 9 large blocks of ice above, from this video, of ice was covered in saw dust and left outside. 1 entire month later there was still ice left!
Making your own block ice can be a great way to save money, as you won't have to buy any ice, and also if you've made block ice in bottles (as we'll show you) then you can use the melted ice as drinking water during your trip.
If you take the time and effort to make clear blocks of ice, which we'll talk about, then these can last even longer than regularly frozen ice. Plus they can be used for cocktail drinks, spirits or even ice carving and they look great.
Tips For Making Block Ice Easier
Before we get into the different methods we'll be using to make block ice I wanted to provide you with a few tips on how to make block ice easier.
Use a Pitcher To Fill Large Containers
If you're using a large container to make block ice sometimes filling it up in the sink and carrying it to the freezer means water is going to splosh around and spill everywhere.
This will make you and your kitchen floor extremely wet.
Instead, partially fill up the container at the sink and then place in your freezer. Then use a pitcher or large bottle to fill up the remaining portion of your container with water.
This way you're less likely to spill water everywhere.
Use Cold or Iced Water To Speed Up The Process
Block ice can take quite a long time to freeze over completely. If you want to make block ice more quickly then use cold water from the fridge or place cubes of ice in the water to bring it down to a cold temperature.
Fill Large Plastic Containers A Bit at A Time
If you're making extremely large blocks of ice and you're using plastic containers to do it you may want to only fill it a bit at a time.
As ice melts it'll expand in all directions (not just upwards towards the opening of your container.) If you've completely filled your container then the expanding ice can crack the plastic before all the water has frozen.
They water will then spill out into your freezer and onto your kitchen floor.
To avoid this only fill your container partially with ice, leave for a few hours for it to freeze and then fill up another portion with ice. Continue until you have one giant block.
Fuse Multiple Smaller Blocks Together To Make Larger Blocks
If you don't have a big enough container to make ice blocks as large as you would like you can make multiple smaller ones and then fuse them together.
Once frozen into shape put a small amount of water in between the two block and then leave them to freeze together.
1. Silicone Block Ice Mold
One of the easiest ways to make a large ice block is to use a silicone ice block mold.
Silicone is great as it holds it shape well enough for your block to freeze but it is stretchy and can expand as the ice does so it won't break.
You can buy silicone molds that make smaller block ice for drinks or you can get silicone bread pan molds that can be used to make much larger blocks of ice.
You can even get silicone buckets which are much larger and can also be used to make large block ice molds.
2. Ice Cream Container
Ice cream containers are a great way to make block ice.
They are a good size and usually we just throw away the plastic tubs and they go into landfill. Instead of throwing them away you can fill them up with water and use them to make large blocks of ice.
You can get small, medium and large tubs of ice cream depending on what size ice blocks you want to make.
So next time you're shopping for ice cream think about what containers you'll want for your block ice and make sure no one throws them away when you're done.
3. Large Milk Jug, Soda or Water Bottle
One of the simplest way to make blocks of ice is to use leftover milk jugs, soda bottles or water bottles.
These are super simple to fill up and freeze and have the benefit of the fact that as they melt they won't make your cooler wet and you can use the water inside for drinking water as they melt.
Small water bottles can be great for smaller coolers or if you're going on a multi-day trip then using 1 gallon milk jugs or 1 gallon water bottles are a great size if you want your ice to last a long time.
4. A Plastic Bin or Container
Using a plastic bin or container is a great way to make block ice. They come in all different shapes and sizes and you can go out there and get the perfect size to fit in your freezer.
For extra large containers make sure to fill them a bit at a time.
If you want to make clear blocks of ice then you can cover your containers in reflectix insulation like in the video below.
The ice will then freeze from the top down pushing the air towards the bottom of your container. The top of the ice block will be completely clear and the bottom will be cloudy.
Use warm filtered water for even better and clearer ice blocks.
When you tip out your block of ice you can cut off the cloudy bit and you'll have solid blocks of clear ice left that you can either leave in one big piece or cut into smaller chunks perfect for drinks and cocktails.
Balloons are one of the easiest ways to make ice blocks in bulk. The bigger the balloons you buy the bigger the ice blocks you can make.
Fill your balloon up with water and tie it off. Place the balloons in the freezer for at least 24 hours to completely freeze over.
You can leave the ice in the balloons so as they melt they don't make everything in your cooler wet. Or you can take the ice out of the balloons and the big circular ice blocks will look awesome in your cooler or ice bucket.
6. Large Plastic Bag
If you don't have balloons then you can use a plastic bag to make a large ice block.
This can be a way to make quite a large ice block without having a mold.
Simply fill up the plastic bag and either tie it off or find a way to hang or prop up the sides of the bag in your freezer so water doesn't leak out.
If you want your ice blocks to be rectangular you can use wood to make a mold or use plastic buckets or containers so create the shape you want.
7. Use a Cooler
If you've got a cheap cooler that is small enough to fit in your cooler then it can be an amazing way to make a clear solid block of ice.
Fill the cooler with warm water and leave the lid off then place it in your freezer.
The ice will freeze from the top down and give you a large clear block of ice.
I personally wouldn't do this with an expensive cooler like Yeti because I would be worried the expanding ice might deform my cooler, but a cheaper cooler should work fine.
I have used my little Coleman FlipLid 5-Quart cooler and had good success with that.
8. Clear Ice Block Maker
If you want to make clear ice blocks that are the perfect size for whiskey or cocktails then the clear ice maker is the perfect little contraption that allows you to make clear ice in your freezer at home.
It works like a cooler insulating the ice and getting it to freeze from the top down making the top part of the ice super clear and pushing all the air to the bottom of the ice, which you can scrape off.
9. Baking Pan
When making ice blocks commercially they use stainless steel trays in order to form the ice blocks.
You can also use a stainless steel baking pan to create large blocks of ice.
You can use big pans made for things like lasagne or you can even use cake tins which can expand making it easy to remove the ice after it's frozen.
10. Round Plastic Tub
The flexible plastic tubs that you get for your clothes washing or for storing kids toys or any other knick knacks around the house can also be great for making large blocks of ice.
They come in multiple different sizes, are usually extremely cheap and they are flexible enough that they are unlikely to break as the ice expands.
They are also tapered so the ice block can slip out quite easily once it's completely frozen.