Malaysian Mould To Make Clear Ice At Home For Drinks
“How come I never made ice cream that looks like this?” Ken would wonder when he saw the photos how clear ice could make drinks so sophisticated.
In addition to looking good, clear ice has practical value, as its higher melting point means slower melting, which won’t overly dilute a drink.
This is beneficial in whiskey tasting practices known as “opening” the liquor. Here, the drink is intentionally diluted slightly to release its flavor, which cannot be achieved with whiskey stones or stainless steel ice.
With the help of his wife, Ken began to try different methods offered by the Internet. They froze boiled water, pure distilled water, and mineral water to no avail. After properly studying the science behind clear ice, they landed on the answer: directional freezing.
Directional freezing mimics the way water freezes in a lake: up and down at a slow pace. Water freezes this way because it is isolated from all surfaces on its sides. As a result, 99% of the impurities in the water are pushed down, leaving the purest ice on top.
The way to reproduce this at home is to use the “colder method”. The water is placed in a cooler (which has insulation), frozen without its lid for 2 days, and carved into smaller pieces where only its clear top is used.
“This process takes hours and hours of hard work, at the end of the process you would be frozen from holding the ice for too long but sweating all the carving and carpentry work,” Ken commented.
“Why should clear ice be so inaccessible?” We can certainly make a convenient and affordable household product for us in this part of the world. “
And so, Clear As Ice was born.
Deconstruct the mold
The Clear As Ice mold is available in 3 layers that stack on top of each other:
- The ice cube tray,
- A container,
- An insulating box.
Water is filled in the components of the tray and the container. Based on the theory of directional freezing in an insulated box, the water in the top tray will freeze into clear ice. There are 4 holes on the bottom of the tray so that the impurities can be pushed down, into the layer of the container.
When removed from the insulator box, the ice from the container layer is now also stuck to the tray. When hit with a spoon, all that comes out of the tray is clear ice.
The whole contraption retails for 119 RM (109 RM on sale), which is a huge investment for consumers who want to easily make clear ice at home. However, this is because building this ice cream mold initially took around 6 months while balancing a full time job.
Making the mold was 10 times harder
First, the couple and Ken’s engineer father had to decide on the materials for the mold. It had to be food grade with the right flexibility.
To make sure their ice cubes fit a wide range of glass sizes, they reached out to friends and family to look for other sample sizes.
Once the planning was done, building the actual product was the starting point for the real struggles.
The first 50 parts were made with components too tight to fit together properly. “It’s because we didn’t properly account for the material shrinkage that occurred during the manufacturing process,” Ken reminded Vulcan Post.
Because they were dealing with real machines to sculpt each mold, it was not possible here to simply erase their mistakes. Each modification required a tooling cost involved. “So even before we even sell a unit, we start to bleed and take more losses,” he added.
And things haven’t improved either. 2 weeks before the initial launch date, their suppliers dropped out. Frantic as they still had full-time jobs, the couple finally took emergency time off to sort out the issue.
They were not only looking for a new supplier who could make such a custom mold, but also a supplier who was willing to do it in such a short time frame.
“I think a hundred phone calls easily went through that week, but we got there in the end,” Ken said.
Now, with a product ready to allow Ken to make as many clear ice cubes as he wanted, it has finally occurred to him. Would someone actually buy their product?
Could they be Pity buyers?
Keep in mind that Ken and his wife did not do any market validation before embarking on this business. It was just supposed to be a hobby they got into.
Ken admitted that their first customers were friends and family exposed to his clear ice cream when he served them drinks during their visit. When their site launched in December 2020, relatives bought it immediately and also bought some as Christmas gifts.
“It was really nice to see the support we received from people around us. But for the first two weeks we thought, maybe people are buying as a sign of pity or trying to be nice, ”he explained.
For anyone in command, Ken and his wife would recognize names or know who they belonged to.
After finally receiving an order of a name neither of them recognized, they were brought to tears. It was the validation they needed to make the business work.
Grateful, he said, “The idea that someone would trust our brand and our product gave us the confidence that Clear As Ice could be a real business and not just an over the top hobby in which I have invested too much.
Today, Clear As Ice has received a greater number of customers, with Malaysians of the older generation buying their ice cream molds. Due to the aesthetics of Clear Ice, Ken indicated that the majority of orders are from customers.
For his future goals, he hopes Clear As Ice molds will become a staple in every home.
“We know we’re only at the start of the journey, but the feedback we’ve received from our customers, some of them showing off their favorite drinks now associated with Clear As Ice on social media, has been truly amazing. rewarding, ”Ken concluded.
- You can read more about Clear As Ice here.
- You can read more about other startups we’ve covered here.
Featured Image Credit: Ken, Co-Founder of Clear As Ice
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