In the world of whiskey, there are lots of arguments over ice: whether it should be used or not? How much to use? What type to use? I believe it is up to the drinker. I enjoy a bit of ice in my whiskey, but, in my opinion, nothing beats a good ice ball instead of cubes. So what’s the difference? Volume and surface area. When using ice from your icemaker you have a greater amount of surface area of ice to whiskey. This causes the ice to melt faster; yes, your drink is cold faster, but you have also added more water to your drink than you may want. Typically by the time you finish your drink, the ice is gone as well. With an ice ball, you have less surface area, because it is one large piece of ice, and it takes longer for the ball to melt. This causes the drink to cool down slower, and it does not get watered down as much. Plus, a great ice ball can last for several drinks.
For the past month, I have been playing with a product I received from Polar Ice; the Polar Ice Tray. The Polar Ice Tray uses the theory behind how a river or lake freezes; the water freezes from the top down. The way the company attempts to get this to happen is through their mold. The mold is in four pieces; two for the ball, the reservoir for the water, and an insulated container. The freezing process is designed to push all the trapped air and impurities downward and out of the ice into the reservoir. The mold has holes in the bottom which allow the air and impurities to pass out of the freezing area leaving a “clear” ice ball.
The downside of the process, this is for all ice balls or ice molds, is ice takes time, lots of time, to freeze. Polar Ice says about 12 hours for an ice ball to fully form. On a good day you can make 2, or if you’re me, and you have a four- and one-year-old running around your house all day long, you make one a day and sometimes forget to make a second. But, as they say, all good things take time.
With this ice experiment, I tested out several different methods. I started out using just tap water since the Polar Ice Ball is supposed to make clear ice from any water, but for me, this did not work.
Since tap water didn’t make a clear ball, I tried distilled water. Using distilled water did create a clear ball with just a few bubbles in it. Where I live does have great tap water, but I think no matter where you live you’re going to have some impurities. The idea with Polar Ice Ball is that the impurities get pushed out of the ball, and from what I saw this does start to happen. I would always get a ball that was half clear half hazy. If you research clear ice, you will find out it is one of the hardest things to create. It is possible, but lots of people do several steps to make it happen. For the bubbles, I tried all kinds of things per the Polar Ice website to clear the air from the mold. I even tried filling the lower section first and then putting it together eliminating air from the bottom section but still had small bubbles in the ice ball. Distilled water gave the clearest ice ball but was still not completely clear.
On the positive side, this is the easiest mold I have ever gotten an ice ball out of. The silicone is the key to making this very simple. Also, the ball held up in the glass very nicely. Others that I have used have split or melted in odd ways; this ice ball was very consistent; melting from out to in with no cracking.
In conclusion, would I purchase the Polar Ice Ball? And do I recommend it? I would rate the product at a solid four stars. Using distilled water the product is super simple to use and creates great ice balls, with some cool bubble patterns in them. The mold is very easy to use and getting the ball out takes less than 5 seconds. I never had to run water over it or wait to be able to get the ball out. The two items that are keeping this from being a 5 for me are: I can only make one ball at a time (the price is a little high for a single ball), and I could not get clear ice out of this mold. If I could have created clear ice, it would have been very impressive. For $30 the call is yours. Thanks to Polar Ice for the opportunity to try out the Polar Ice Ball.
As an update to this post: Over the last several days I have been pounding out ice balls for a family gathering. My hard plastic mold split in the massive freeze-a-thon but this ice mold, along with my square silicone ice mold, have kept going. So I have to say silicone molds are the secret to making good ice balls.
Disclaimer: Special thanks to Polar Ice for providing Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their Polar Ice Tray. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their product with no strings attached.