Clear Ice vs White Ice | How to Make Clear Ice

While some of us may not be expert mixologists or drink aficionados, you still may have wondered why some ice is clear and some are white. We’re going to go over the differences between the two and how to produce clear ice.

Most people who freeze ice in ice trays will notice that their ice comes out a cloudy or white color. This is because the ice is full of impurities and because of the fast rate at which it freezes. Clear ice can be made from boiling water, separating impurities and freezing it over a longer period.

In the mixology community and with drinks, clear ice is considered gourmet ice. Sometimes this requires special equipment, however, you can get the same results at home by trying different methods.

I’ve been a fan of drinking scotch for many years now and I can tell you with great confidence that there are different qualities of scotch. The same goes for ice. Most people aren’t going to care if their ice is clear or cloudy, however, for some, the devil is in the details.

Is Clear Ice Better?

Clear ice could be considered better by many, for the fact that it has fewer impurities. Water and tap water specifically, have different kinds of impurities such as lime (limescale) and other organic elements such as calcium, nitrates, fluoride, and magnesium.

When making fancy drinks, next to quality, appearance is a big deal. For a business that sells top-quality drinks and delivers them with flair and a touch of elegance, clear ice is the best choice.

Why is My Ice White Instead of Clear?

When we make ice at home with ice trays or with a run-of-the-mill ice maker, usually the ice comes out as white, milky, or cloudy. This doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with the ice, it just doesn’t look as pretty.

The ice appears white because of impurities and because of the way that the ice is frozen. Water that is lukewarm from the tap, that goes straight into the freezer will have those impurities, usually in the middle of the ice cube.

The ice turns white also because our freezers tend to freeze the ice as quick as possible, this adds air bubbles and makes the ice cloudy. The reason clear ice on a body of water appears clear is that it freezers over a longer period and has fewer air bubbles.

Differences Between Clear Ice vs White Ice

Now that you know why ice is clear or white, let’s look at some of the differences in the ice and how it is used.

Clear IceWhite Ice
Clear ice looks good when serving in a fancy drink.White ice looks cloudy and less appealing.
Clear ice is stronger and melts slower than white ice.White ice has more air bubbles and melts faster.
Clear ice tastes better since it has fewer impurities.White ice has impurities in it that can give it an off-taste.
Clear ice is purified and better to drink than white ice.White ice has more organic matter that makes it less pure.

Facts About Ice

If you’re anything like me, you have to have ice in your drink. There are very few drinks that I enjoy lukewarmly. So here are a few facts about ice that you may not have known.

Clear ice is stronger. When it comes to walking on ice, clear ice is stronger than cloudy ice. White ice has air bubbles that weaken it, while clear ice is denser and stronger. Source.

Ice doesn’t freeze uniformly. Whether you are walking on ice or putting it into a drink, it does not freeze uniformly. This can make it difficult to get pure clear ice when making it at home.

Dry ice isn’t made from water. Contrary to popular belief, dry ice doesn’t actually contain any water. It is made from carbon dioxide. Liquid carbon dioxide is pumped into holding tanks which pressurizes the liquid into blocks. Source.

Clear Ice vs White Ice Pros and Cons

We’ve put these two kinds of ice to the test and here are the pros and cons of clear ice vs white ice.

Clear Ice Pros:

  • Clear ice tastes much better than cloudy ice.
  • Clear ice has a better-looking presentation.

Clear Ice Cons:

  • Clear ice takes longer to freeze.
  • Clear ice is not always available.

White Ice Pros:

  • It’s quick and easy to make.
  • White ice doesn’t use any special equipment.

White Ice Cons:

  • It has more impurities.
  • It doesn’t look as good.

When it comes down to it, whether or not you want clear or white ice is completely up to you. Clear ice does taste better but it also takes longer to create and the process is a little more complicated.

How to Make Clear Ice

There are multiple ways to make clear ice, some use special equipment, others use different processes. Let’s look step by step at the process of making dry ice without any special equipment, besides a small cooler.

Step 1

Boil the ice, and consider boiling it twice. Or use distilled water instead.

Step 2

Pour the purified ice into a cooler with no lid, careful to not let any of the sediment into the container.

Step 3

Let the ice in the cooler freeze without the lid on. Harvest the ice before it freezes completely, this will let you get clear ice before it gets the chance for the white parts to condense in the middle.

You may also decide to buy special equipment that helps make clear ice with less of the hassle.


One of my favorite things to do is enjoy a scotch with one large piece of clear ice. I love watching it melt, and it makes the scotch go down a little smoother. The clear ice melts slower, making the length of enjoyment longer. When I’m drinking tea or a soda, I prefer to just use regular cloudy white ice. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it gets the job done. You will have to decide which moment calls for clear ice or white ice.