Monday, December 27, 2010

Ice Lanterns

I had another go with the ice lanterns yesterday and I am in love! Last New Year's Eve, Dad and I made ice lanterns for the restaurant's walkway.  They were a success then and they were a success yesterday!

Allie and I made 5 buckets this year and as a unexpected jackpot, we got 4 more than expected when the inner buckets remained intact!
The picture on the left is the intended lantern - the larger ones.  I love how the ice is so thick and substantial!  Allie used the tiny ones to line the staircase.  We just placed tea lights inside them.

Since our guests were arriving at 1:00, it wasn't quite dark out.  But when night fell, the lanterns were spectacular.

Here are the contraptions we made to make the lanterns -- or should I say the molds.  We found two buckets in graduated sizes and taped the smaller one in the center.  We filled both buckets with water and  set them out to freeze.
Now - this part was unplanned... we set out the buckets in cool weather - 32 degree weather.  We filled them with cold water from the faucet.  Then, as nightfall cooled temperatures further, the buckets froze very slowly.  Two days later, the ice was frozen, but didn't get cloudy!  The ice remained clear.
When we took them inside to remove the inner buckets, the hear from the house made them pop!  The noise was loud, but it was effective.  We only had trouble with one and I simply ran some cool water over the bucket and the ice popped out.
Some tips --

  • Allow enough time for the lanterns to freeze.  One night is pretty risky - I would allow at least 48 hours for them to freeze solidly or at least mostly solidly.
  • Be sure that the inner bucket is larger than the candle you wish to place inside the lantern.  The candle has to be submerged inside the hollowed ice bucket or the wind will blow it out. Alternately, the candle can't be too small or it will burn itself out from lack of oxygen inside the lantern...
  • You can color the water if you wanted to make the lanterns color coordinated for special occasions.
  • Using scented candles is an unexpected surprise!
  • The lanterns will last a long time, if the temperature is below 20 degrees.  The flame from the candle barely melts the lantern in cold temperatures, so these can be set out early in the day.
  • The lanterns might freeze to the ground when lit. So, be prepared to use some legwork to remove them when done.
  • Use caution when placing an open flame where children may be present.  (This is less like to happen in 20 degree weather).
  • Be sure that nothing flammable comes in contact with the flame -- leaves, branches, curtains, etc. 

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