Once the winter solstice rolls around and then the new year, I’m often itching for some extra light. While I can’t control the weather or when the sun goes down, I can add some light in other ways. As a child on the North Shore, my Mom would help us make ice candles in the winter. I think this is a fun and easy way to add some extra light and twinkle to your evenings. They are quite easy to make, even if you live in a warm climate (although they won’t stick around as long outside).
Supplies: rubber balloons, plastic bowls/containers, scissors, tap water, and cold weather (below freezing) or a freezer.
- Stretch a balloon gently and attach it to your water facet. Holding the top on the facet head, gently turn on the water and then with your other hand hold the bottom of the balloon while it inflates with water. When it is the size you desire, turn off the water. Gently remove the top of the balloon from the tap and tie it off.
- Place the filled balloon in a plastic bowl, with the tied end down. This will create a more round shaped ice ball. If you prefer the final result to have more of a balloon shape, you can put the tied end up. Note: it will be harder to get a vent in the ice when the tie is not down. A vent is needed for a candle to stay lit.
- Repeat until you have the number of ice candles you’d like to have in the end. It can be good to make a few extra, in case any don’t turn out how you’d like.
- Put the balloons in their bowls outside (if the temperatures are below freezing) or in a freezer. The length of time required will depend on the air temperature, the size of the filled balloons, and the desired thickness of the final result. In my experience, it’ll take at least 4 hours for them to freeze, but again, it will depend. You can check on the extent they have frozen by gently pressing in the very top of the exposed balloon. This may break the ice formed, but as long as it is where the eventual vent hold will be, it’ll be ok. Just don’t do it too frequently. If you want to put a candle in the ice, you will want to make sure they are thick enough to hold up, but have not frozen fully through.
- Once they are frozen to your liking, bring them inside (or remove from the freezer). If you accidentally let them freeze through, you can either use them as an ice sculpture, or let them melt inside and refreeze again.
- Place the bowl in a sink and using a scissors, clip the balloon and remove. Water will rush out, so be prepared. Water is a good sign, as it means you will have room for a candle inside. Once you’ve removed the balloon and the water is drained, make sure you have a vent hole at the top of the sphere. If not, you can use warm to hot water to melt a hole. You can also use warm water to clean up any other ice formations inside the structure, if you’d like a clearer ice form.
- Find a location outside for your ice candle. Use a small tealight or other candle inside, being careful to choose a location that has minimal fire risk. Light your candle and enjoy your handiwork! Be sure to put out the candle when unsupervised.