Advice BlogWater TreatmentHow is Making Clear Ice like Cooking a Steak?

March 23, 2021by Ed Gabrish0

Clear ice has become a “thing”, even though it may be challenging to think about entertaining, especially after a year of sheltering in place. But, there is an optimistic argument to be made that entertaining will resume one day, and perhaps we could all use a little practice while making us feel special.

During this pandemic many people have taken advantage of the many craft distilleries that have popped up everywhere and home delivery has certainly has made it simple to expand our libation awareness. So, go ahead, pour that unique whiskey, mix that gin and tonic, or attempt to mimic that awesome Gibson on the rocks you saw in The Queens Gambit. But take your mixology game up a notch by using a unique ice mold. Treat yourself- you deserve some TLC.

Using a sphere, for example, provides less drink dilution because the density of a sphere of ice melts very slowly. Without getting overly scientific, it’s about the surface area to volume ratio. It also looks dramatic, reminiscent of being in a hip speakeasy in SOHO, to have a clear ice sphere in our cocktail. As the image above depicts, an oversized clear ice globe of ice makes for the ultimate in cocktail sophistication. But would the visual appeal be as stunning if that sphere of ice were cloudy or discolored? Would you want to drink from that?

Isolating and removing air bubbles affects the ice’s clarity, and some ice-making systems take that into account. But the most crucial factor in producing crystal-clear ice in your shape of choice lies within the purity of the H2o you are freezing.

When perfectly clear ice forms in nature — think pond ice that you can see fish through or clear icicles on your eaves — it’s because pure water is left to do its own thing. However, your home’s tap water is chemically treated to keep it safe to drink. That’s not great for making clear ice. There are also likely to be trace mineral deposits and possibly undissolved solids, all of which can lead to cloudy ice.

Sphere Ice Mold
Williams Sonoma Ice Mold
Spherical Ice Tray

Step up your cocktail game with an ice mold. Shown here are a few popular ones.

Want Clear Ice? Skip The Bottle!

Did you know that most bottled water isn’t distilled? Check the label because you’ll want purified water minus the mineral deposits and microscopic debris the distillation process eliminates. Starting with purified water will increase your odds of making pure ice instead of cloudy ones.

Getting rid of as much air as possible is also crucial to making clear ice. Tiny air bubbles become trapped in the ice as the water freezes resulting in cloudy ice (BTW – the imperfections that cause cloudy ice also accelerate the melting process). Eliminate most of the air by boiling the water, regardless if you use tap or distilled water.

Even better, boil the water twice, which is the best way to make sure you start with the best water possible. Just be sure to let the water cool after the first boil, and consider covering it with a lid or clean aluminum foil to prevent any dust or dirt from entering. Once your water has cooled to room temperature, boil it again and allow it to cool down before beginning the freezing process.

It’s Like Cooking a Steak

Yes, it’s possible to get decent results just by pouring your double-boiled, distilled water into your standard ice cube tray and popping it in the freezer. But you’re likely to end up with small cloudy ice cubes. It’s like cooking a steak. The water in your ice tray freezes on the outside of the cubes first. As the water freezes, it pushes any impurities into the still-wet — that is, unfrozen — part of the water. That means that any cloudiness is in the center because that was the last part freezing.

One way to fix this is by directional freezing or getting your ice to freeze on one side first so that the cloudiness is pushed all in the same direction. For example, if you can get your ice to freeze from the top down, all the cloudless would end up on the bottom and chipped away. This method can result in clear ice, and there are several ways to accomplish it, but it’s a chore. And please don’t ask me how to do this!

Perfectly cooked steak

Wait, there is more!

There is Igloo freezing, small-scale freezing, even saltwater freezing. There are also professional-quality ice makers and consumer-oriented countertop models (the Newair countertop icemaker produces forty pounds of clear ice per day), and while effective, these units still rely on treating symptoms instead of the root cause of your cloudy ice- the H2o.

Treat the Root Cause

The point is, simple water adjustments will not sustainably change ice produced in a tray or mold.

  • Using distilled water won’t guarantee clear ice.
  • Using bottled water won’t guarantee clear ice.
  • Boiling or double boiling water won’t guarantee clear ice.

So what will? If you start with clean, purified water, you’ll get clear ice. The solution is deploying a household system that will take all the impurities out of your tap water. Schaible’s Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning offer a broad selection of reverse osmosis systems, everything from whole house systems to smaller systems designed to plump to your refrigerator’s ice maker or a dedicated sink faucet.

A reverse osmosis system removes sediment and chlorine from the water with a prefilter before it forces water through a semipermeable membrane to remove dissolved solids. After water exits the RO membrane, it passes through a postfilter to “polish” or re-mineralize the drinking water before it enters a dedicated faucet.

You can find information on the benefits of water treatment on Schaible’s website’s water treatment page.

The plumbing experts at Schaible’s professionally select and install all types of reverse osmosis systems. We also perform any necessary maintenance work. Even if you have some plumbing experience, we do not recommend installing them yourself,

Schaible’s Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning has models for a single faucet, popular in the kitchen, and models designed for refrigerators with ice cube makers and water dispensers. And some large-capacity models work throughout the entire dwelling.

Getting clear ice from a mold, tray, or refrigerator icemaker starts with crystal clear water, and the best way to get safe, clean, and clear water in your home is with a reverse osmosis water treatment system. You’ll love the taste as much as you’ll love the look of your cocktails.

reverse osmosis system

A typical R/O system can fit in a closet, in the basement, or under a sink.

Little girl using a R/O water tap

A little girl getting water from a dedicated R/O faucet, mounted on a kitchen sink.

plumber changing the R/O filter

Depending on the amount of use, replacement filters will be needed around once a year.

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