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Why Does Water Freeze into Cloudy Ice Cubes in My Freezer?

Image Credit: Nora Maynard

We've all come across those incredible soda commercials on television and in magazines, where the ice cubes are perfectly and completely clear in a pristine glass of ice-cold fizzy pop, but at home, it seems next to impossible to make perfectly clear ice.

Here's chemistry's answer to why your ice usually freezes cloudy, not clear.

What's the Problem with Cloudy Ice?

Cloudy ice cubes simply aren't as aesthetically pleasing, but looks aside, cocktail and beverage aficionados seek out clear ice cubes because they don't want even the smallest impurity to come between them and their drink. Cloudy ice is a sign of impurities: as ice cubes form, impurities and gases are trapped within, leading to cloudy appearance.

How Water Freezes into Ice Cubes

Myths About Making Clear Ice Cubes at Home

There are a lot of how-tos on making clear ice at home when you scan through search engines, but few actually work.

How Nature Does It: Freezing from the Top Down

When lakes freeze, the outermost surface freezes first, exposed to cold air, and the denser cold water sinks below. As the water crystallizes and freezes, dissolved gases and minerals are also pushed out and down into the water. The ice above is therefore clear.

Methods That Can Work (Emphasis on the Can)

Sure, there are ways of achieving clear ice at home, but they aren't foolproof and they require special setups or dedicated fridges/freezers.

I'd love to hear the steps you take to combat the looked-down-upon cloudy ice cube in the comments below! Do you have any tricks for making clear ice cubes at home?

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