Friday, January 9, 2009

My next door neighbour has an Ice Factory!

Well, I think it must be true! She keeps churning out Ice Candles like they are going out of fashion! They DO look beautiful though.. especially with different colour candles in them.

So, what is an Ice Candle when it's at home? It's a candle that is housed in a wall of Ice! This makes the colours of the candle glow beautifully, reflected by all the crackles in the ice. I have made one or two before, but my next door neighbour obviously has a thing for them.. and as one eventually dies.. (if the temperature rises they will of course melt) then up springs another almost immediately! I LOVE IT!

So how does she make them? Here is how to make yourself an Ice Candle!

You need a bucket, or a deep plastic container. Where ever you are going to freeze it, wrap the bucket up - around the base and sit it also on some fabric, newspaper or a small rug - this will help to insulate the base.

Then fill the bucket up with water - to about an inch from the top. You can always add food colouring - if you want a coloured effect to the ice. Then simply freeze it! If you are going to freeze this outside, it needs to be at a temperature of at least -10 or less.. or you can of course use your freezer. Probably best to do this at night, then deal with it again in the morning.. to stop the fiddlers amongst us from 'peeking' to see if it's ready or not yet!

The water freezes gradually from the outside wall inwards and will get thicker the longer that you leave it. Of course, if you leave it freezing for too long it will freeze solid and you don't want that! You want it so that the walls are frozen, yet the centre is still liquid-ish (flipping COLD liquid at that) yet, because you insulated the bottom it should also still be an unfrozen whole lump!

The following morning, let the buckets thaw for a while (five or ten minutes). The sides of the bucket should thaw a little to allow for its removal. As it is loosening, you should take the bucket outside (if you are indoors!) and much like a building a sandcastle, flip the bucket over, and release your ice shape. At the top, (previously the bottom and insulated part of the ice shape) there will be a thin layer of ice, which you can break away. This will leave the outer shell where you can place a candle of your choice! Bingo! Your own ice candle! You can of course make smaller sizes of ice candle too.

I once bought, many years ago, a similar item that was for use in the kitchen - for a fancy party - I still have it somewhere. It's a double layered plastic bowl in which you could put flowers or fruit slices etc.. for embedding all sorts of creative objects for a party ice bowl. I see no reason why you couldn't do the same thing with the outdoor candles too!

Ice is a real art form! The Ice Castle at Kemi is soon open..(if it isn't already) I would love to go this year. We will have to see if we find the time..