Wintersmiths Ice Chest

Photo Credit: Aaron N. Tubbs

Wintersmiths Ice Chest

As I’ve mentioned in the past, the Wintersmiths Crystal Clear Ice Sphere Maker is a handy piece of kit. With a bit of patience, time and luck it creates nicely crystal-clear spheres of ice. Sometimes things don’t work out but the results are ultimately rather repeatable. There are two downsides I mentioned before. First, every sphere comes branded with an obnoxious W. Second, extracting a sphere from the device is an exercise in frustration.

The whole shebang. Simple but effective.

With The Ice Chest, Wintersmiths attempts to fix both of these concerns. It is a larger device but still rather compact – about half the width of a lunch cooler. It’s a very simple device. The outside is a foam cooler. Inside that is a plastic water reservoir. Into that the two halves of the mold are inserted. That’s all the parts and the assembly/disassembly is trivial. Producing ice spheres or cubes is easy: Fill the reservoir, insert the two halves, top off with water, wait 24 hours. Lift the ice out of the reservoir, separate the mold, do a quick trim of overhang, and it’s done.

I left this in 36 hours, a defrost cycle kicked in and the mold started bulging. The cubes produced were still perfect, but results are better at just 24 hours.

Best part? The cubes and spheres don’t have an obnoxious W on them.

Out come the cubes. They look cloudy/frosty/unclear, but a quick shave with a knife and either tempering or rinsing and it becomes obvious that they're crystal clear.

In practice, nearly all of the spheres and cubes I’ve made with the device have been trivial to extract, looked great, and cleanup/refill has been a snap. Compared to the original, this device is a joy to use. About the only risk is in leaving the thing in the freezer too long, in which case defrost cycles, bulging, and complete freezing of the reservoir become a hassle. None of these are fatal, but this is just to note that the one-day freeze is about perfect and works best.

The inside of the sphere mold. The cube mold is similar but does not have the flanges; it has a little more in the way of mold artifacts as a result but these are trivial to shave off with a paring knife.

I got mine from Kickstarter. The device now sells for $120 plus another $40 for the additional mold (i.e. spheres and cubes). Compared to putting a cooler in the freezer and carving off chunks of clear ice this is not a cheap approach. On the other hand, if the goal is rocks sized appropriately for service that look great with minimal hassle, it’s an approach worth considering. The results are superior in every way to those obtained by the sphere and cube molds that do not leverage differential freezing (these produce a cloudy cube and often end up deformed).

The cubes are clear enough that it's easy to see straight through them to the etching on the bottom of glassware.

I have a hard time recommending the original product; while it’s cheaper for a single sphere, it (obviously) produces far fewer cubes and is a giant pain in the ass. The only reason to consider it is if space is an absolute constraint.