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Ice Ball Machine - the next round of drinks

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February 4, 2010

The Ice Ball Mold turns an ugly chunk of ice into a spherical thing of beauty

The Ice Ball Mold turns an ugly chunk of ice into a spherical thing of beauty

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Ice cubes are so passé. We’ve already seen them challenged in their drink cooling duties by Sippin’ Rocks and now there's a new threat looming. The Ice Ball Mold transforms an irregular shaped chunk of ice into an icy sphere, which its proponents say are more desirable than cubes because they melt more slowly due to their smaller surface area - thereby keeping your drink cooler and less diluted for longer.

The device doesn’t require any power to run. Briefly heat the top and bottom pieces of the aluminum mold in warm water, place a chunk of ice roughly the right size between the two heavy pieces and then let gravity do the rest. The Ice Ball Mold can apparently churn out 30-40 ice balls an hour, but be sure to use the device over a drip tray of some sort since there is no reservoir in the mold to hold the excess water.

Ice Ball Mold   ice  gravity = ice sphere

Purveyors of fine Scotch Whisky, Macallan, apparently came across the Ice Ball Mold in Japan and have acquired the exclusive rights to the device for a few years. However, if you’re after one of the devices without the Macallan branding emblazoned across the side they are available from the Japan Trend Shop in 30, 55, 65 and 80mm sizes.

But be warned, ice sphere producing ability doesn’t come cheap. While the 30mm unit is available for a not too unreasonable US$184, the price jumps substantially for the larger sizes. US$1,003 for the 55mm, $1,085 for the 65mm, US$1,113 for the 70mm, and US$1,649 for the 80mm.

NOTCOT via boing boing

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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14 Comments

If the ice ball melts slower than an ice cube doesn't also cool the drink less?

Isn't it the heat absorption from the drink that melts the ice?

I think it is and this makes the ice balls not very good drink coolers.

If you want something that cools your drink well but doesn't dilute it I would suggest pink plastic elephants filled with salt water.

Ingvar
5th February, 2010 @ 05:13 am PST

An interesting fact was pointed out to me the other day. It is always better to put more rather than less ice in your drink. More ice cools you drink quicker, and therefore melts more slowly. Actually I just remembered, I say no ice when having a fizzy drink from a tap, otherwise I end up paying for a load of ice and not much drink.

windykites1
5th February, 2010 @ 10:31 am PST

"Less diluted for longer" I'll believe, but "cooler for longer" isn't so clear to me. If the ice ball absorbs heat from the surrounding liquid more slowly, the liquid won't ever get as cold as faster-melting ice would make it. The article could use a graph comparing the temperature and dilution of two drinks, one with ice cubes and one with these things instead. It'd make a nice example for a thermodynamics college course :-)

davespicer
6th February, 2010 @ 03:59 am PST

Cool idea, but the claims of spherical ice balls being superior to cubes are extremely dubious, IMHO. That, and they seriously expect people to pay $184 for a small chunk of billet aluminum that's worth about 30 bux, even with the machining time and other parts installed (ie; the two dowels and the little mold release lever on the lower half). Looks easy enough to make, maybe I'll bash one out with some scraps at work to try it...

Abraam Cookman
7th February, 2010 @ 12:44 pm PST

Haha, my 13 year old daughter just finished her science fair project comparing the rate of ice melt for constant volume shapes. Yes, the sphere does melt slower than a cube but does not result in a cooler drink... sorry.

Also, we made a 30mm sphere mold (plus the molds for a cube and rectangular prism) with ~$20 worth of urethane. Perhaps I should put this on Ebay, I could undercut the market.

Either way making 1 ice cube per freeze is a rather inefficient process...

JasonTrujillo
7th February, 2010 @ 10:35 pm PST

seems pointless... totally pointless novelty. unless I'm studying behavior of whater or maybe it's structure in the for of Ice, why would I spend anything to have sperical ice?

dariusvons
9th February, 2010 @ 05:15 pm PST

The freezer in my kitchen fridge does not pump out ice cubes big enough to be used in this device...and I suspect that most people's fridges don't either!

Ed
16th February, 2010 @ 02:38 pm PST

In Japan, they are meticulous about their cocktails, especially in the (many) high-end bars. They have a dedicated 'ice boy', who (honestly!!) labourously carves ice-cubes from large blocks of ice. Ice cube trays or ice machines don't work. They use only the clearest ice, which must be frozen in large blocks in order to BE clear. In the end, although rather larger than 'standard' ice cubes, they look nearly the same, but totally clear. They believe each element of the cocktail must be perfect, from the glass it's served in, to the ice to the booze and any mixers. Of course, they don't use tap water to prepare the ice. Sometimes it's brought in from mountain streams, other times it is at least filtered and purified. Yes, one pays 'through the nose' for these drinks, but Japanese businessmen often bring their clients to these places, and insist the client have as many drinks as he wishes. (When I say 'expensive', I mean the cheapest of these drinks would be about $30 American. And, one had BEST tip the barman appropriately.) Sadly, few of these clubs allow women, so I've mainly had to go on descriptions by others. (Of course, quite a few of the clubs ALSO don't allow 'foreigners' either. At least if they're not with a Japanese person.)

CarolinadeWitte
10th May, 2010 @ 11:28 am PDT

LoL silly you can make any size by rolling square ice cube in hands.

Herbal Orgasm
11th April, 2011 @ 09:27 am PDT

Clearly, most people here don't understand the point! It's not about being efficient or fast. When you drink $50 to $100 scotch, and take it seriously - you don't really care how long it takes to prepare one ball of clear ice from scratch. To get the best experience everything should be perfect. And if it takes $500 machine to prepare one ball of ice that will melt slower - so be it.

Some people prefer luxury cars, when geo metro can take you from point a to point b.

Although it should be quite simple to make this particular machine for cheaper. Even if custom made from scratch. It's suche a simple design.

Vlad Trusevich
7th June, 2011 @ 01:08 pm PDT

@Vlad, unfortunately your wisdom will be lost on this group! You are correct, the reason you would but an ice sphere rather than plastic pink elephants in your drink is for aesthetics and cooling, with limited water. This is all about personal preference. If you want freezing-cold scotch, put your bottle in the freezer. If you like it watered down, throw lots of ice or just add water. It's not about getting the liquid as cold as possible, it's about getting it to the temperature you enjoy.

Once again...lost on this crowd.

Steve Hall
24th June, 2011 @ 07:02 am PDT

As other(s) have said, way to expensive for such a basic design.

Also I don't think anyone else has mentioned, but in the picuture the iceball is crystal clear, and that isn't going to happen with tap water. To get it that perfectly clear you would have to use ice made from distilled or R.O. water that is 0ppm

KushSmoka420
10th January, 2012 @ 10:29 am PST

How about just freezing a bunch of water-balloons ?...

bgstrong
28th March, 2012 @ 02:24 pm PDT

Yes, it doesn't cool as fast as cubes, which are slo compared to cracked ice or a Sno-Cone. But the functional question is, does the sphere do a "good enough" job.

And in an eve's worth of stand-around drinking and yapping, maybe the long-lasting sphere is a good idea. It might well be, for rich people to have first in their neighbourhood.

Jeffrey Paull
5th April, 2012 @ 08:39 am PDT
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