How to Make Clear Ice Cubes at Home

June 30, 2023 by

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Get ready to shake up your cocktail game, because we’re here to spill the secrets on how to make clear ice like a pro mixologist. Say goodbye to cloudy cubes and hello to the hippest, clearest ice cubes in town.  

Clear ice is the crown jewel of mixology magic. It’s the kind of ice that makes you go, “Whoa, what’s the secret behind this translucent masterpiece?” Well, fear not, dear reader, for we are about to reveal the secrets that will have you creating picture-perfect transparent ice cubes that would make even the most discerning cocktail aficionado swoon. 

How to make clear ice cubes in a tray

Close up of a person making clear ice cubes in a tray

It may seem like a tricky process, but you simply need to follow the steps. Once you’ve done it once or twice, making clear ice at home will seem much easier than you imagined.  

Step 1: Fill the bottom tray

  1. Start by selecting a silicone ice tray with a removable bottom. These trays are ideal for creating clear ice cubes due to their flexibility and the ease of removing the ice cubes.  
  2. Place the silicone ice tray on a flat surface to ensure stability during the process. 
  3. Use filtered or distilled water to fill the bottom tray of the silicone ice tray. The quality of water plays a significant role in achieving clear ice cubes by minimising impurities. 
  4. Fill the tray just below the rim to allow for expansion as the water freezes. Avoid overfilling, as it may lead to messy spills or misshapen ice cubes. 

Step 2: Create insulation

  1. After filling the bottom tray, lay a piece of insulating material, like a kitchen towel, over the top. This insulation helps slow down the freezing process and encourages the formation of clear ice. 
  2. Gently press the insulating material down, making sure it covers the entire surface of the water-filled tray. 

Step 3: Freeze and remove ice cubes

  1. Carefully transfer the tray to the freezer, ensuring it remains level to prevent water from spilling. 
  2. Allow the tray to freeze completely. The time required may vary depending on the size of the ice cubes and the temperature of your freezer. Generally, it takes about 4 to 6 hours for the ice cubes to freeze. 
  3. Once fully frozen, remove the ice tray from the freezer and let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes. This helps loosen the ice cubes and makes them easier to remove. 
  4. Gently twist or flex the silicone ice tray to release the clear ice cubes. If they resist, you can briefly run the bottom of the tray under lukewarm water to loosen them. 
  5. Your clear ice cubes are now ready to take centre stage in your perfectly crafted cocktails. Cheers! 

Learn more: Make These 8 On the Rocks Cocktails Like a Pro 

How to make clear ice cubes in a cooler

Close up of hand carved clear ice blocks made by freezing water in a cooler

You can also make clear ice cubes in a cooler, and hand-carve it if you prefer to get crafty. Here are the steps to follow if you would prefer to go this route:   

Step 1: Freeze warm water in a cooler for 18-24 hours

  1. Choose a clean and insulated cooler that can accommodate the desired size of ice block you wish to create. 
  2. Fill the cooler with warm water from the tap, ensuring it’s not boiling hot to avoid damaging the cooler. 
  3. Place the filled cooler in the freezer with the lid slightly open to allow for air circulation. Freezing warm water helps minimise impurities and air bubbles, resulting in clearer ice. 
  4. Leave the cooler undisturbed in the freezer for approximately 18 to 24 hours to ensure the water freezes completely. 

Step 2: Extract and carve the ice block

  1. After the designated freezing time, remove the cooler from the freezer and let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to loosen the ice block. 
  2. Carefully remove the ice block from the cooler, taking caution not to damage it during the extraction process. 
  3. Place the ice block on a clean and stable surface, preferably a cutting board or a workbench. 
  4. Use a serrated knife or ice saw to carve the ice block into desired shapes, such as large cubes, spheres, or custom shapes. Rinse the ice block under cold water occasionally during carving to remove any ice shavings and improve clarity. 
  5. Once shaped, rinse the carved ice pieces under cold water to remove any remaining impurities or ice particles. Pat them dry gently with a clean cloth or paper towel. 

Read next: 9 Freezer Door Cocktails for Easy Hosting 

Extra tips for making & shaping clear ice

Hand pouring cocktail over ice in tumbler glass

Here are some extra tips to take your clear ice game to the next level: 

Use filtered or distilled water. This helps minimise impurities and enhances the clarity of your ice cubes. Tap water can contain minerals and chemicals that contribute to cloudy ice. 

Freeze in layers. To create clear ice blocks with distinct layers, freeze the water in stages. Fill a container partially, let it freeze, and then add another layer of water on top. Repeat this process until the desired thickness is achieved. 

Shape your ice. Clear ice can be shaped into various forms, such as spheres, cubes, or even custom shapes. Using ice molds or carving tools, you can create impressive ice sculptures or unique ice cubes that add flair to your cocktails. 

Remember, practice makes perfect! Experiment with different techniques and have fun while honing your clear ice-making skills.  

Do you add ice before or after building a drink?

Cocktails we love to serve with clear ice

Clear ice not only enhances the visual appeal of cocktails but also elevates the overall drinking experience. Here are a few cocktails that are made even better when paired with the beauty of clear ice: 

Old Fashioned

Close up of an Ancho Reyes Old Fashioned Cocktail in a rocks glass, garnished with an orange twist on a bamboo cocktail pick

This classic Old Fashioned cocktail is perfect for clear ice cubes. The clarity of the ice accentuates the rich amber colour of the whiskey, making it a true showstopper. 

Mint Julep

Mint Julep in a pewter cup with mint garnish

Traditionally served in a silver cup, the Mint Julep takes on an extra touch of elegance when accompanied by a clear ice cone or large cube. The slow melting of the ice keeps the drink icy cold while enhancing its minty freshness. 


Close up of a tall, cool Soju Mojito in a Korean hospitality setting

The combination of muddled mint, lime, and rum in a Mojito is a match made in heaven. Pair it with a clear ice cube, and you have a visually stunning cocktail that’s as refreshing as it looks. 

Lime Margarita

Margarita on a metal tray with limes

Indulge in the vibrant flavours of a Lime Margarita, elevated to new heights with the addition of clear ice. The crystal-clear appearance of the ice showcases the zesty lime hue of the cocktail, enhancing its visual appeal while keeping your drink chilled to perfection. 

Sea Breeze

A Sea Breeze cocktail garnished with grapefruit

Transport yourself to a beachside paradise with a Sea Breeze cocktail served over clear ice. The pristine clarity of the ice brings out the mesmerising combination of cranberry, grapefruit, and vodka, creating a captivating blend that is as invigorating to the eyes as it is to the taste buds. 

Moscow Mule

Two Cranberry Moscow Mule cocktails

Sip on a Moscow Mule that dazzles both in taste and presentation when enjoyed with clear ice. The transparent ice cubes accentuate the fiery golden hue of the ginger beer and the captivating taste of the vodka, adding an element of sophistication to this classic cocktail.  

Remember, these are just a few examples, and the possibilities are endless. Experiment with your favourite cocktails and let the clarity of your ice take your mixology skills to new heights. Cheers to the perfect blend of flavour, aesthetics, and coolness! 


Absolutely! With the right techniques, you can make clear ice right in the comfort of your own home. By using filtered or distilled water, insulating containers, and employing methods like directional freezing, you can achieve crystal-clear ice cubes.

Directional freezing is a technique used to encourage the formation of clear ice. When freezing water, impurities and air bubbles tend to gather in the centre of the ice cube. By creating a setup that allows freezing to occur from one direction, such as using an insulated container with one side open, you can guide the impurities to escape and result in clearer ice.

While using filtered or distilled water is recommended for achieving the clearest ice possible, it’s still possible to make relatively clear ice using tap water. However, tap water may contain impurities and minerals that can contribute to cloudiness in the ice cubes.

Yes, you can use regular ice cube trays to make clear ice, but the results may not be as consistent or clear as using specialised ice molds or trays designed for clear ice.

Yes, you can store clear ice for later use. Once you have made clear ice cubes or blocks, you can transfer them to an airtight container or a sealed bag and keep them in the freezer until needed. However, over time, clear ice may start to develop a cloudy appearance due to sublimation and the absorption of odours from the freezer. It's best to use the clear ice within a few weeks for optimal clarity and taste.

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