Make: Projects

Ice Globe

Celebrate Winter Solstice's return of light with this decorative display of fire and ice lantern. Whether on your table as a centerpiece, on your front porch for an evening party, or elsewhere in your home, this wintery decoration awakens our primitive f

  • By
  • Time Required: 30 to 60 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
Ice Globe

Learn how to make a decorative ice globe to add ambiance and a little light to a holiday party.

You’ll freeze water in a balloon and hew it into a lantern. Then light it with a candle and put it on display. Watch it slowly change as it melts over several hours.



Step #1:

Ice Globe
  • Fill the balloon with water from the tap to about 8" in diameter, supporting its weight with the bowl. If you fill it much bigger, it will be floppy and flat, much smaller and there won’t be room for the candle inside.
  • Let any air escape from the balloon, tapping the balloon to get little bubbles on the side to float up
  • Tie the neck of the balloon
  • Turn balloon knot down in the bowl
  • Place in freezer for about 18 hours for walls about 1 1/4" thick. Longer, and the globe will have thicker walls, be harder to vent, and last longer before melting. Shorter, the globe will be more delicate and not last as long.

Step #2:

Ice Globe

While it’s freezing you can ponder how this works: the outside of the balloon freezes first, because it’s closest to the ambient cold in the freezer. The interior stays water. Note the similarities and differences as compared to how a pond or cubes in an ice cube tray freeze.

Step #3:

Ice Globe
  • == Choosing a stand and tray == Basically, you want to allow air to enter the globe to feed the candle, even when a puddle develops in the tray, and even as the globe melts down onto the stand.
  • Avoid a stand that will have narrow contact with the globe, as it will cut into the ice faster over time.
  • Also, make sure it has holes near the candle, inside the base of the globe. The globe will melt down to form a seal on a flat surface.
  • And finally, for safety, keep in mind the globe may rotate slightly as it melts, especially if one wall is much thicker. Make sure you have adequately protected

Step #4:

Ice Globe
  • Remove frozen balloon from bowl
  • Tear balloon from globe, piercing with table knife
  • Chip hole in globe where the knot was with table knife until you reach the liquid center. If you can’t reach it, try an electric drill, or start over and freeze for a shorter time. The hole should be big enough for your candle and air flow.
  • Drain water from center, and scoop or rinse slush from inside
  • Chip another hole on opposize side, which was facing upward in the freezer, to make a vent for the candle. The vent should be at least 1" for a tea light.
  • Place candle on your chosen stand in your drip dish and light it
  • Place globe over the top, making sure not to drip on the candle

Step #5:

Ice Globe

==Preparing in advance== Once the globe is drained and rinse, you can store it as-is, unwrapped, in the freezer for at least a few weeks.


Your globe is ready to shine. It should last a few hours at room temperature.

For a holidays centerpiece, you might nestle it among some holly sprigs.

For walkway lighting, set them just off the walkway in the snow.