An August Reverie: How to Make Ice
Clip Art: Explanatory Exhibit: Am Ice Cube Tray (retro)
In my little summer home, I welcome guests including family, extended family, and friends. I even provide drinks, asking only that the guest mix such drinks themselves, after the first drink is provided by the host
All of this works well enough, except for the ice. Later in the evening, when I reach for a few ice cubes, there is nothing there: It is a stark reminder of the sad, old “Mother Hubbard Phenomena:” The cupboard is bare. No one but me ever makes ice. Perhaps some have lost the recipe. A few might think that ice is a natural byproduct of the refrigeration process. Most may have simply forgotten.
To rectify this, I am posting this helpful little notice on the freezer door:
How to Make Ice
Follow these simple steps and you will enjoy the independence and satisfaction of creating your own personal set of matched ice cubes:
1. Take an ice cube tray, or other appropriate mold, and fill it with cool water (approximately 60 degrees F) up to the lip. Do this in the sink. Try not to spill the water, either on the counter or on the floor. Remember to turn off the faucet when the trays are full.
Note: Do not use hot or boiling water for this purpose. In addition to being more dangerous to handle, scientists tell us that boiling water, while possibly purer, takes longer to freeze than cool tap water.
2.Make sure the tray compartments are equally, but not overly filled.
Note: This can be a teaching moment: As you fill the ice trays, watch the water flow gently over the top of each compartment to fill successor compartments. This is the principle that sank the RMS Titanic in 1912. The great ship had water tight compartments, and heavy hatches or doors, but the compartment walls did not extend to the above deck, so the water simply flowed over them, water-fall like, filling successor compartments, and eventually sinking the great ship. People will never tire of hearing this dramatic and demonstrable story.
3. Gently place the filled trays on the freezer shelf, and close the freezer door.
Note: Do not expect immediate action. Depending on the temperature of the water, the temperature of the freezer, and the number of times people open and close the freezer door, the process could take 4 – 6 hours. However – this does mean that you can repeat the process at least twice, or even three times per day.
4. When the trays are finally frozen, visually check for water bubbles in the ice, which may indicate imperfect or incomplete freezing. If properly frozen, you may immediately use your new ice cubes, to the delight of your friends and yourself. Now, repeat the process.
Note #1: The number of cubes you can make it limited only by the water available, the ice cube trays, and some sort of freezing machine and power source. The rest is up to you, requiring technical knowledge (as contained herein), and your personal effort. I’m sure the latter will never be in short supply.
Note #2: I occasionally find ice cube trays in the freezer, empty. This could be caused by someone lazily picking an ice cube or two out of the tray with their finger nail, and putting the finally empty tray back in the freezer.
However, if someone believes that ice will form in an empty ice tray, perhaps by spontaneous combustion, this is not true. M.I.T.’s Lincoln Labs tested approximately 750 empty ice cube trays (of rubber, plastic, and tin construction) in a variety of freezers, and found that in no case did ice form spontaneously, or even over time intervals ranging up to 48 hours.
Their conclusion: There must be water in the tray in order for ice to form.
Now you have both the technology and the mechanics of making ice cubes. Please use it wisely and appropriately.
This is one of those few times we may safely say: “Try this at home.”