Clear ice with the Wintersmiths Phantom Ice Maker

I’ve been using the Wintersmiths Phantom Ice Maker for a many months now, so I figured I ought to write up my experience.

The Phantom Ice Maker is a directional freezing ice mold. It consists of a cylindrical insulated vessel and a variety of silicone ice trays for producing different shapes of clear ice. The unit is rather pricey: $140 including the ice tray of your choice. Additional ice trays cost about $40/ea. (I got mine at a bit of a discount through the initial Kickstarter.)

At this time, I have two trays: the large cube and the small cube. The former produces 2 inch cubes and the latter produces 1.25 inch cubes. I’m not a fan of ice spheres, so those don’t interest me. I might consider the collins ice spear tray in the future.

The short of it is that this contraption does work pretty well. As usual, the devil is in the details.

First of all, its footprint in your freezer is about 8.5" in diameter, and about 6" tall. It’s not really practical to put anything atop it when its freezing. Many people will struggle to find a place for this unit unless they have a second freezer available. Wintersmiths does make some smaller units (Phantom Mini and the Ice Chest) that may be better options for some, but I haven’t tried them.

Second, it takes about 24 hours (depending on your freezer) to produce a batch of ice. In my case, a batch of ice means 6 large cubes or 16 small cubes. Moreover, you cannot immediately turn around and start a new batch, because there’s a plug of ice in the cylinder you first need to leave to melt enough to discard. This has all turned out to work OK for me—most of the time—but for some that will simply not be enough ice without supplementing.

Third, the Phantom Ice Maker does require some physical effort. You have to fill it with around 10 cups of water, and transport it to and from your freezer (on the first trip without spilling). Pulling the silicone tray out after freezing can be remarkably difficult—much more so than the manufacturer’s videos imply. I have found it’s best to let the unit sit on the counter for about 10 minutes before attempting. Finally, you need to transfer the cubes back to the freezer—currently I use zip lock freezer bags to hold them, but am looking for a better option.

So yes, it works: you get perfectly clear, clean ice. The question is whether it’s worth the cost to you, and whether the practical requirements are realistic.

I also have it as part of the Kickstarter with all 4 initial trays and I also recently got the new small spheres tray. A few months ago they came out with a V2 of the large sphere and large cube tray with some tweaks in design and additional air holes which work a bit better and are a little easier to remove from the cylinder. All the molds work great for me (especially the V2 molds) except for the small cubes. I was getting too much air in the small cubes causing a frost layer. I used a hole punch to make additional holes and it is working much better after that. I shared my pictures/results of that experiment with the team at wintersmiths and am hopeful they will add more air holes to the small cube tray in a future design modification.

But in short I have the phantom and also their older model and although somewhat expensive I think it is worth it if you want clear ice.

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