The Quest for a Solid Ice Beer Tray

The Quest for a Solid Ice Beer Tray

part 1 | 2 | 3

At the beginning of summer, I had an idea that I wanted to try; a beer holder molded from solid ice.

When I was a kid, my parents had a large chest freezer in the garage. I have fond memories of freezing balloons full of water into ice bowling balls. My parents would sometimes freeze gallons of water for use in coolers or bowls of ice to use for cooling a bowl of punch. It was my introduction to making molds.

For the beer holder project, I wanted a tall block of ice with six can-sized holes, for holding a six pack within a block of ice, sort of like a mini-cooler completely made of ice. It might even make an attractive centerpiece.

I really wasn't sure how to get a block of ice with six deep holes in it, but I didn't think it was going to be too tough. My first try was to freeze a single aluminum can in a tupperware tub. To keep the can from floating, I filled it with water.

 

After a few hours, everything was frozen. Of course, the can was also full of ice, which was held in a death grip by the surrounding pool of ice, which had expanded to hold the aluminum can.

To free the can, I waited for the ice to melt a bit. Unfortunately, this took more than one minute, so I got impatient and tried adding a little hot water to the can, so that the ice around the can would melt first. It wasn't going anywhere. The can was locked in the ice. In addition, there was no fingerhold available to grab the can to twist or pull out.

I gave up after a while and was distracted by something else long enough for the ice to melt significantly. By that time, the can slid out, but the melted hole wasn't sharp anymore, it was sloppy.

I thought the ice would look better if it were clear, so I tried boiling the water before I started, but honestly, that never works, and this time was no exception.

I decided on the next try to only fill the cans up halfway with water, and to create the surrounding block of ice in stages. Using this method, I'd be able to freeze cans into place with only an inch of water or so, leaving the rest of the can empty for hot water after the block was solid.

This worked at first, but the second row of ice expanded to squeeze the empty space in the cans, locking them in place. I could melt them out, but it took so much time that the overmelted holes looked terrible.

In trials with six cans, the overmelted holes created another problem. The small diamond-shapes in between the cans were fragile. I had to get the frozen cans out quickly enough that the center diamonds had as much of their structure as possible.


 

My next try was to wrap the cans with aluminum foil. That didn't work. I also tried wrapping them with paper. That didn't work. I also tried covering them with oil. That didn't work.

Next I wanted to fill the cans with something that wouldn't allow the surrounding ice to crush the cans at all: cement.

 

This didn't work.

The frozen cement was the same temperature as the frozen ice, and seemed to warm up at the same rate, so the cans refused to exit the ice in anything close to a timely manner.

The resultant ice holes were loose.

And loose holes made for a sloppy-looking display of cans.

I'll admit that sometimes my patience was lacking. As soon as the ice was solid, I wanted to yank out the cans.

Please continue reading Part 2 of the Solid Ice Beer Caddy

part 1 | 2 | 3

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