Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ice luminaries: a lesson in science and psychology

After a majorly failed attempt last year, I was determined to get some successful ice luminaries this season.  I mean, it falls under my Use What You Have mantra.  I have water.  I have buckets.  I have freezing temperatures.  This should work.

That's the science part.

What I wasn't prepared for was the struggle to keep my patience as I tried to keep the glass jars from floating away, pop the ice cylinders out of the buckets, then pop the glass jars out of the ice.  And the frozen mosquitos.

What are mosquitos doing in Michigan in January anyway?

Then I got smart and remembered that I have a cleaner, more predictable, more controlled environment right inside my kitchen freezer.  And about a day later, 7 ice luminaries were born!

Here's how:

First, take a 32 ounce plastic yogurt container.  Take an empty jam jar and fill it with dried beans.

Next, put the jam jar in the center of the yogurt container and fill the remaining space with water, leaving the top inch or two of the jar exposed.  Carefully put this into the freezer, or out on the porch.

Later, when the water is completely frozen, take the whole thing out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter for about 15 minutes to thaw oh-so-slightly.

Then, turn it upside down, and tap the ice and jar out.  Take the lid off the jar and dump out the beans.  Fill the empty jar with cold water (hot water may crack the jar!).  Let this sit for a few minutes.  Then, with any luck, the jar should slide out of the ice cylinder!  If the ice cracks, don't worry, take the jar out anyway, and pop the cracked ice cylinder back in the yogurt container, add a tiny bit of water to seal it, and put it back in the freezer for another hour.

Make as many luminaries as you like, remembering to store them in the freezer, not on the porch, until you are ready to light them.  I learned this the hard way; a couple of sunny afternoons ruined my entire stash.  Winter is just not what it used to be.

When you are ready to light these, drop a tea light or votive candle inside.  Light with a long match or one of those long lighters and set outside.

Instant (ok, not so instant) charm!

1 comment:

  1. They were really pretty when we arrived at your party, especially in the snowstorm.