Clear ice is a type of ice that doesn’t have any air bubbles trapped inside. It looks amazing and is quite popular in your favorite cocktail or drink. However, one of the downsides of clear ice is it can take a really long time to make.
Whereas regular ice cubes might take only 3-4 hours to completely freeze clear ice balls like the one I made above take around 24 hours to freeze!
Whether you're a restaurant or bar and trying to make a higher volume of clear ice or if you just don't want to wait that long then the good news it there are a variety of things you can do to make clear ice a lot faster.
You'll still get high-quality clear ice, but it'll freeze a lot quicker and you'll be able to make a lot more ice faster than you otherwise would.
Here are my best tips for making clear ice faster:
1. Start With Cold Water From The Fridge
Clear ice will form much quicker if you use cold water instead of room temperature water. This is because it takes less energy to bring down water from 40ºF/4ºC down to freezing temperature than it does to bring water down from 70ºF/20ºC.
Fill up some bottles and leave them in your fridge to chill. Keep them towards the back of the fridge so they are as cold as they can possibly be.
The cold water will take less time to reach the freezing point as it is already lower in temperature than room temperature water.
Extra tip: Put some ice cubes in your cold water and keep it in the fridge. This will bring the temperature down to right on 32ºF/0ºC and your clear ice will freeze very quickly. This is one of the fastest ways to make ice cubes.
Just make sure to filter out the ice cubes and only pour water into your clear ice molds. You also want to make sure you're using high-quality distilled water for the best results.
2. Turn The Freezer Down
When you put the ice tray in the freezer, ensure that the freezer is turned to its coldest option. The colder the temperature in the freezer, the faster the water will freeze.
However, consider turning your freezer back to its average freezing temperature after you have made the clear ice.
This is because extremely low temperatures may affect the other food in your freezer, like difficult-to-scoop ice cream.
3. Use Distilled Water
Using distilled (or filtered) water is one of the best hacks to help make clear ice.
Distilled water does not have the impurities that normal water has, typically giving ice that cloudy and murky look.
Water without minerals and impurities also means your clear ice will freeze faster – which is an added benefit.
Another advantage of using purified water is the taste. Eventually, the ice will melt and fuse with your drink.
As clear ice can be seen as an ideal item in your luxury drink, having a good and clean flavor is a must. Using distilled water is one of the best ways to get better tasting ice and it'll also stop your ice from tasting bad.
4. Make It Using The Salt Ice Method
This is a method to make clear ice and it works on a bottom-to-top freezing method.
If you have no clear ice trays or no small cooler to make clear ice, this method can be a great way to still make clear ice.
Firstly, put a metal bucket inside a large bucket filled with ice.
Now add salt generously to the larger outside bucket. Saltwater has a lower freezing point compared to regular water. It'll force the ice to melt and lower its temperature and this will lower the temperature of the water in the inner bowl and cause it to freeze from the bottom up. This is the same way salt is used in ice to make homemade ice cream.
Make sure the water in the inner bowl is cold and near freezing temperatures like already discussed for the fastest and best result.
5. Take It Out Early
One of the most popular ways to make clear ice is to fill up a small cooler and put it in the freezer.
Once your cooler of water is in the freezer, it will freeze faster on the top and then slow down as it freezes downward. This method is excellent for making clear ice and takes around 24 to 48 hours.
However you can remove the cooler after 12-24 hours. There will still be some water in the bottom but this can be discarded.
Plus taking it out early means you don't need to chop off the cloudy ice that forms in the bottom of the cooler – saving you time and energy.
You can refill the cooler with distilled water and place it back in the freezer for the next batch.
6. Put It At The Back Of A Freezer
The back of the freezer is the coldest part of the freezer. Placing your ice tray at the back will make clear ice faster.
This method is also a great tip for storing clear ice balls or cubes, they'll stay harder at the back of the freeze and are less likely to melt and refreeze together.
The door is the warmest part of the freezer as its exposed to the most outside air. So avoid putting your ice cubes near the door as they will take longer to freeze.
For fastest results keep the freezer door closed and don't open it if you can avoid it. Or use a deep freezer and put your ice cubes down the bottom of it.
7. Use Dry Ice
Dry ice is one way to make clear ice extremely quickly. It's also a great way to make clear ice without a freezer.
It is much colder than your freezer’s temperature, around -109.2ºF/-78.5°C and when put adjacent to ice it'll cause that ice to freeze rather quickly.
Ideally place the dry ice underneath the water and use a metal ice cube tray or container so heat is transferred quickly.
This method can make clear ice in only 15 to 20 minutes! Place dry ice at the bottom of a bucket or cooler. Then place the ice cube tray or container with water on top of this.
The dry ice will ensure a bottom-up freezing approach.
8. Try Boiling Water
The Mpemba effect will be the reason why using boiling water can help to make clear ice. The Mpemba effect refers to the time back in the 1960s when a student called Erasto Mpemba observed heated ice cream freezing faster than regular temperature ice cream.
The result is that using hot water will SOMETIMES freeze quicker than cold water.
The note here is sometimes. It seems to work some of the time while other times it takes longer (as you'd expect). But it could still be worth a try.
Although there is no current scientific consensus on how or why this works, several theories exist. One is that hot water evaporates faster, so there is less mass to freeze. Another is that the hot water freezes quicker because it has fewer gasses (less carbon dioxide).
9. Place A Fan Blowing On Your Ice
You can place a fan inside your freezer to blow directly onto the ice.
Place the small fan near the cooling outlet, pushing the cold air faster than usual. This will speed up the process, but finding a small enough fan to fit in the freezer might be challenging.
If you don’t have access to a small fan, you can try placing your cooler or ice tray as close as possible to the cooling outlet. This should help the freezing time go slightly quicker.
10. Just Buy It
The last quick and easy way to have clear ice in your freezer is simply to buy it. Go to your nearest clear ice manufacturer, which probably also caters to the bars and restaurants around you.
Most of these manufacturers will have clear ice available on demand and you can get a large quantity very quickly.
How Long Does It Take To Make Clear Ice?
The time it takes to make clear ice depends on your method and the materials you have at hand.
If you’re using a cooler to make a block of clear ice, it can take around 24 to 48 hours for the clear ice to set.
If you require clear ice in bigger batches, for instance, in commercial use, it usually takes around 48 hours for a super large block to be made in a commercial clear ice machine.
A little less time is required to make it in a clear ice maker, taking about 18-24 hours. However, with some of the above techniques, it will be as quick as 6 hours to have your clear ice ready to use at home.
Smaller ice cubes freeze much quicker than large ones.
Making clear ice at home can be simple. Some tips to speed up the process are to use distilled water, put it at the back of the freezer, which is turned down to its coldest, and take it out early to use what has already frozen.
To make clear ice fast, use the following techniques:
- Start with cold water
- Turn the freezer down
- Use distilled water
- Make it using the salt ice method
- Take it out early
- Put it at the back of a freezer
- Use dry ice
- Try boiling water
- Place a fan blowing on your ice
- Just buy it