A Recipe for Ice
While the citizens back in Harbin cut their ice from the Songhua River for their festival, D.C. residents are less likely to find the local waterways frozen solid. So, where do you find two million pounds of ice? At an ice factory, of course!
The ice for ICE! is created using a special "recipe" (yes, this ice has a recipe!), and it arrives in approximately 36 truckloads over a three-week period - two trucks a day for 15 days, which is about as fast as the ice factory can produce it. Large blocks of ice are delivered on pallets via refrigerated tractor-trailers, then moved into place by forklift.
Three Types of Ice
Clear, "Crystal" Ice
The most difficult to make, crystal ice is created using highly filtered de-ionized water. It takes 3 days to freeze the 45 gallons of water used to create each 400-pound ice block. By freezing it slowly, the molecules are able to line up perfectly, similar to a diamond or crystal. In fact, this ice is so flawless it is often compared to Waterford Crystal.
Looks like compacted snow, makes up a small part of the attraction, but is invaluable when carving a snowman. This ice is frozen quickly, giving it a cloudy look, much like the ice made in a home freezer. By freezing quickly, the molecules do not have time to perfectly align.
Dyes from nine brilliant colors are used for highlighting and accenting many of the ice sculptures. These giant popsicle-like blocks are made with simple food coloring that is added during the freezing process. Though it may sound simple, there's a catch... the water must be stirred constantly to ensure a consistent color throughout the block when it is cut.