Make Circular Ice with Water Balloons

If there’s a better way to impress your friends than with cocktails, I don’t know what it is. Some nice glasses, quality spirits, and a recipe that doesn’t involve pre-made margarita mix, and you’ll automatically look suave. However, the most overlooked cocktail accoutrement (and the coolest, in both senses) is the ice.

Source: How to Make Circular Ice for Show-Stealing Cocktails Without Any Special Molds

Great idea!

…unless of course you don’t know whether or not your guests have a latex allergy and they have a reaction from the Latex touching the ice, which they are now drinking… 😉

Make Crystal Clear Ice Orbs with an Insulated Coffee Mug

You can use the Cooler/Directional Freezing method to make blocks of perfectly clear ice. But those are big blocks and many people want to make clear ice balls.

Typical ice ball molds make ice that is cloudy in the middle. One reader developed a method to take advantage of directional freezing but it involves using a big pot of water so it’s not space-efficient.

Source: Make Perfectly Clear Ice Balls Using Insulated Mugs

Interesting solution!  Now to try it out…

What Makes Water Wet?

Donning his regular work attire—jeans and a Hawaiian shirt—Richard Saykally tells me in four words the answer to a question I had often pondered in the shower: Why is water wet?

Source: Ingenious: Richard Saykally

Just the phrase “strong tetrahedral hydrogen bonding” may not mean much to you. It starts to mean a little more though when you think not just about how it fits together, but also the ways in which water’s tetrahedral hydrogen bonds are unusual.

Why Your Muscles Get Sore (and What You Can Do About It)

When you’re struggling to walk down the stairs the day after a tough workout, should you view your soreness as proof you worked hard, or as a sign you overdid it? The truth is somewhere in between. Let’s learn about where soreness comes from and how to keep it from making you miserable.

Source: Why Your Muscles Get Sore (and What You Can Do About It)

One of the suggestions to combat soreness is ibuprofen – do not do this on blood thinners, at least not before reading about it.

How the Global Ice Market was Invented

SO A GUY FROM Boston walks into a bar and offers to sell the owner a chunk of ice. To modern ears, that sounds like the opening line of a joke. But 250 years ago, it would have sounded like science fiction—especially if it was summer, when no one in the bar had seen frozen water in months.

In fact, it’s history. The ice guy was sent by a 20-something by the name of Frederic Tudor, born in 1783 and known by the mid-19th century as the “Ice King of the World.” What he had done was figure out a way to harvest ice from local ponds, and keep it frozen long enough to ship halfway around the world.

…But scholars in recent years have suggested that we’re missing something. In fact, they say, the ice trade was a catalyst for a transformation in daily life so powerful that the mark it left can still be seen on our cultural habits even today. Tudor’s big idea ended up altering the course of history, making it possible not only to serve barflies cool mint juleps in the dead of summer, but to dramatically extend the shelf life and reach of food. Suddenly people could eat perishable fruits, vegetables, and meat produced far from their homes. Ice built a new kind of infrastructure that would ultimately become the cold, shiny basis for the entire modern food industry.

Source: How a Massachusetts man invented the global ice market

Not the first time I’ve read this story, but it’s a very interesting read in how he saw a market for something that did not exist.  And stuck with that dream through a lot of hardship to learn a lot about the industry.  It’s not a case of training hard enough – it’s a combination of timing, experience and business acumen.  The article revolves around the impact to food and lifestyle, but refrigeration is also what makes long distance organ transplants possible.

Ice Cubes: Shrinkage, Bad Taste and Freezer Burn

Why do ice cubes in my freezer shrink over time?

In a word: sublimation. It’s a phase transition where a solid goes directly to a gas/vapor, with no liquid intermediate phase.  Fun fact: evaporation happens at that temperature as well. That’s how very cold places like the North Pole still have snow storms.

Evaporation and sublimation are not synonyms – there’s a meaningful difference.  Under normal circumstances, a phase transition would be solid to liquid to gas, while sublimation is solid to gas without the stopover in the liquid state.  Specific conditions which have to be met in order for sublimation to occur.

Why do “freezer burned” ice cubes taste bad?

A freezer isn’t at a constant temperature. Other things in the freezer are sublimating as well. The liquid inside the frozen peas… that mystery meat in the back you’ve forgotten about… etc. Trace amounts are being refrozen into those ice cubes. You’re tasting the flavors of various spoiled things.

It starts as soon as you put the ice in the freezer as water.  You can minimize the impact by putting the ice cube tray in a bag, and using filtered/demineralized water.  But ice is porous, as is plastic. If it sits long enough, everything but probably glass will absorb odor.  So you’re probably best to prepare a tray before you need the cubes.

What is freezer burn, exactly, and how does it happen?

It most commonly occurs with frost-free freezers.

On a regular basis, freezers will heat up the walls so any frost build-up melts. During this time, the outside layer of anything in there can melt a little.  Once the defrost cycle is done, everything refreezes – usually with a fresh layer of condensation from the temperature bounce, which will damage the cells in the food over time. Ice cream will taste icy and bland, frozen peas will get mushy, etc.  A chest freezer doesn’t do this, and so you see much less freezer burn.