How to make ice candles

BY BILL BROWN

Freezing cold?

Time to make ice candles!

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Photo by Beth LeaMond

These lovely night-time decorations get admiring comments from neighbors and passers-by. It is a fun winter project for children that also teaches them how water freezes.

Easy to make, the only materials needed are pots or pails and water – and  sustained freezing temperatures.

1). Fill pail or pan with water. Vessel must be shaped so ice can be easily removed – the opening should not be narrower than the body, and the sides should not have indentations or texture that prevent removal of the ice.

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2). Leave water-filled pans and pails outdoors in sub-freezing (below 32ºF) temperatures 12 to 24 hours. Overnight is best.

The water freezes from the top down and from the sides, so the center remains liquid for a long time, which is desired. It forms a cavity for a candle. If you are doing this project with children, you can point out that ponds and lakes freeze in a similar way – the top freezes, actually insulating the water underneath so it takes longer to freeze. Many water-dwelling creatures survive the winter by living at lake, pond, or river bottoms.

3). When water looks like it is frozen at least 2 inches deep on the top, turn the pan or pail over and remove the ice. This may require warming the outside of the pan with hot water. It is often easier to get the ice out of plastic pails.

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4) The bottom of the ice shape will now be turned up, revealing the un-melted center. There may be a thin layer of ice to break. Pour the water out.

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5). Place candle in the cavity

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6). Light the candle. The frozen shapes can also be turned over so the candle cavity points down, the frozen part at the top – but only if you leave an air channel or space underneath so the candle will burn. See the photo at the top of this article.

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Photo by Beth LeaMond

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Photo by Beth LeaMond

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Photo by Beth LeaMond