Sunday, February 9, 2014

Ice to Meet You

I was asked to write a review of a new product recently.  I was asked to take a look at Arctic Chill Ice Ball makers. I decided that I would review them, and while I was at it  I would do some experimenting with Ice in general while I was at it.

Arctic Chills Ice Ball Makers

First off, let's talk about the Ice Ball Makers. they are blue silicon and come in a pack of four.  The MSRP is a thrifty $19.95. They are a rather simple design, from the outside looking like one of those stress balls. The bottom is flat which keeps them from rolling all over your freezer. They are filled through a hole in the top. this already is a plus in my book. I have some of the Tovolo Ice Ball molds too, and they are a pain to fill. To fill the Arctic Chills I simply stick them under the faucet and chuck them in the freezer. They are also easy to remove from the mold, because the mold is silicone it stays soft in the freezer and they pop right out. My Tovolos require running them under water to get them to release from the mold. So far they are easier to fill and unmold, is there a downside? Yes, but it is minor. The hole in the top tends to leave a nub on the top of the ice ball, so it isn't a perfectly round ball. Also, I have noticed that all four of my molds popped open a little bit along the hemisphere, leaving a ridge around the middle of the finished balls. Both of these could be easily remedied by pouring a little bit of water out before placing them in the freezer. Overall, I like these ice balls makers, they are easier to use than my Tovolos and a better deal. They are available here.

Before: At the beginning of the experiment
Now, I also wanted to take a look at the different strengths and weaknesses of different kinds of ice. I decided to do a head to head comparison test with some actual data collected as well. Here are the research parameters: I took 6 pint glasses, (mainly because these are the only 6 glasses I have that are all the same). Each glass had 4 oz of colored water, more on why it was colored in a bit, to which there were 5 different kinds of ice. The water came from the filtered water dispenser in my fridge so it was already chilled. The first glass was left iceless to serve as a control. The second glass had 4 oz of crushed ice, the third 4 oz of cube ice. Both the crushed and cubed came from the ice maker in my fridge. Next to that was a single large ice cube at 1 inch square. The fifth glass had an ice ball fresh out of the Arctic Chill maker. The last glass had 4 whiskey stones, small cubes of soapstone that are supposed to chill your drink without diluting it.

After: 1 hour later.
I used colored water to be able to compare the rate of dilution, the ice wasn't colored so the water would be become paler as the ice melted. I measured the temperature of the drink in each glass at the start, and then after 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 minutes. I also decided to stop the testing when the drink hit 60 deg F. There were some interesting results, I won't post the whole chart here, but it is available if you are curious. With the exception of the control and the stones, each drink hit it's lowest temperature through the first ten minutes. As expected the crushed ice was the coldest at first, but after 40 minutes all but the largest pieces were completely melted. The ice cubes were comparable to the crushed ice in temperature and lasted longer with slightly less dilution. The big ice cube and the ice ball were comparable in temperature through most of the test, with the ice ball being slightly colder. After 30 minutes, however the ice cube was noticeably smaller and the drink was correspondingly diluted. The Ice ball was still about 80% of original size after an hour. The Whiskey Stones were virtually useless. They started off only 4 degrees colder than the iceless control and after 20 minutes was only a degree or two lower than the control through the rest of the test. Maybe they work better with a pre-chilled drink. To summarize the findings: if you wanted the drink to chill quickly crushed ice is the way to go, likewise if you want the ice to dilute quickly (i.e. many Tiki drinks) crushed ice is the answer. If you want a drink that is chilled with some dilution, but over a longer period, the ice ball is the proper choice.

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