What is the Difference Between Clear and Cloudy Ice?

We all have the experience of going out to eat at a restaurant and being served a cool, refreshing glass of ice water to go along with our meal. Many people may not consciously notice it, but restaurant ice water is typically filled with clear ice, making it look and taste far superior to the cloudy ice we can make at home. How are clear and cloudy ice different, why is ice from home cloudy, and how can homeowners get clean and clear ice instead?

Why Should I Care About Clear and Cloudy Ice?

The simplest answer to this question is that clear and cloudy ice differ in aesthetic. Clear ice simply looks better than cloudy ice. Serving a glass of water with a bunch of cloudy cubes can make even the cleanest water look unappetizing and unappealing. Pursuing clear ice because it looks better may seem trivial to some, but at-home mixologists could benefit greatly from serving up fancy homemade cocktails with clear ice for a superior aesthetic.

Additionally, even if the appearance of cloudy ice doesn’t offend you, the taste of cloudy ice just might. Cloudy ice often tastes musty or freezer-burned, which can greatly affect the flavor of drinks made with, or poured over, ice. Finally, clear ice thaws more slowly and evenly. Cloudy ice cubes that contain pockets of air melt more quickly, leaving beverages diluted and watered down much faster than those made with clear ice cubes.

What Causes Cloudy Ice?

Ice cubes may come out of the freezer with an opaque appearance for many reasons. One of the most common reasons is that a home’s water has not been properly filtered and purified. In this case, cloudy ice may be caused by contaminants like tannins, minerals, and other dissolved solids. Investing in a high-quality water filter and purification system that utilizes reverse osmosis is a crucial step on the road to obtaining clear, great-tasting water and ice.


At Aquarius Water Conditioning, we always recommend Kinetico water filtration systems and water softeners, as they consistently and efficiently provide the cleanest water at an affordable price. Once you have a proper water filtration and purification system in place, you’ll likely notice a major difference in the taste and texture of your home’s drinking water. This will translate directly to the quality of ice you make in ice cube trays or from your freezer’s ice maker.

If your home is already furnished with a high-quality water filtration and purification system but your ice still looks cloudy, the freezing process may be to blame. In a typical home freezer, water is surrounded by frigid air, causing ice cubes to freeze from the outside in. This forces air bubbles, and potentially impurities, toward the middle of the ice cube to freeze last, giving ice a cloudy appearance. The presence of air within an ice cube can also give it an “off” flavor.

Why Do Restaurants Have Clear Ice, and My Home Doesn’t?

When it comes to clear and cloudy ice, restaurants have an interest in providing clear ice to customers. Restaurants typically purchase state-of-the-art ice machines that use a vastly different cooling process than what most of us have at home. Commercial ice makers have jets that spray small amounts of water into ice molds. Instead of freezing ice cubes all at once like we do when we place an ice cube tray in the freezer, these jets allow ice cubes to form in layers. This prevents air bubbles from convening in the middle and creating a cloudy aesthetic.close-up-of-ice-cubes-in-water-with-bubbles

Interestingly, this is similar to the way icicles are formed. Icicles freeze gradually as drops of water drip down slowly and freeze together. Most icicles freeze completely clearly, making them striking to look at on a cool winter day. If you are interested in obtaining restaurant-quality, clear ice for your home, you can invest in countertop professional ice makers that use the same process. These devices typically cost a couple of hundred dollars. A professional ice maker would be a fantastic investment for a household with a cocktail enthusiast, or for anyone who simply wants restaurant-quality ice available at a moment’s notice.

Unfortunately, even a professional ice maker cannot make clear ice if the water source isn’t properly filtered and purified. Before investing in a professional ice machine, make sure your water is as clean and clear as possible.

How Can I Mimic Restaurant-Quality Clear Ice Without Expensive Equipment?

There are a few steps you can take to minimize the cloudiness of ice cubes you make at home, but they likely won’t create 100% clear ice. Even still, they can drastically improve the look of your home’s ice cubes.

The easiest way to reduce cloudiness is by boiling a pot of water and placing it in ice cube trays. Boiling water can help reduce the amount of oxygen inherently in the water, potentially reducing the number of air bubbles that become visible once the cubes are frozen. The best way to do this is by bringing filtered water to a boil, letting it cool, bringing it to a boil again, letting it cool again, and then putting it in ice cube trays that go in your freezer. This method won’t yield perfect results, but it may improve the appearance and taste of your ice cubes.

Another strategy for obtaining clear water is by placing a filled ice cube tray into a small cooler, and then placing that cooler into your freezer. This can help ice cubes freeze from the top down instead of from outside in, possibly reducing trapped air bubbles in the center.

How Can Aquarius Water Conditioning Help Me Get Clear Ice?

The professionals at Aquarius Water Conditioning are experts in all things water filtration, purification, and softening. We can help your home get the highest-quality water, which in turn, can help you get clean, clear, great-tasting ice.

If you’d like to learn more about the Kinetico devices we carry and which services we offer, please contact us today!