Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Making Winter Ice Lanterns

Now that we are in winter weather, I thought about how much fun it would be to make some of those gorgeous ice lanterns I've seen in photos.  There are kits available for purchase, but I am on a budget and decided to try to make something similar for free, so today I'm sharing my DIY ice lanterns.

A Glowing Ice Lantern on a Winter Night
We had numerous clean empty 5 gallon paint buckets available, so I decided to make my ice lanterns with those, but really any clean plastic container of any size will work.

Filling a 5 gallon bucket with water
I  filled two buckets about half-way up  because  I didn't know how long it would take for the water to freeze and figured it would take less time if it wasn't full.    Food coloring can be added to the water, but I decided to use just plain water.

Waiting for water to freeze in 5 gallon buckets

I placed my buckets outside and checked each day for a week, but there was still water in the middle. The daytime temperatures were hovering right around freezing with the night temperatures in the mid to upper 20s. Then the temperature dropped about 10 degrees both day and night and after 2 more days at the colder temperatures, the ice inside the buckets seemed solidly frozen.  When I tried to dump the ice out of the bucket, it was frozen to the sides, so I brought them inside the house for a few minutes to thaw the sides.

Ice emptied from a 5 gallon bucket

I was then able to turn the buckets upside down to dump the ice out.  There was still a little water in the very bottom where it wasn't frozen solid, making a perfect depression to place a candle inside.

Votive candle in an ice lantern

I placed a votive candle in a glass holder in the top.  It was easy to make it level by using a little snow under the votive holder.

Votive candle lighting an ice lantern

I waited until dark and then lit the candle.

I also experimented with placing a larger jar candle inside.

A jar candle inside an ice lantern

I liked the way the color from the larger candle showed through the ice.  A red candle at Christmas time would be very festive!

Ice lanterns lighting a walkway on a winter night

Although I liked the way the jar candle looked, too, here is a photo of my homemade ice lanterns with votive candles inside.  For anyone who prefers the look of the ice globes, kits are available for purchase.

We're linked up to the Homestead Blog Hop!


  1. These are lovely - what a great idea!

  2. Those are so pretty! They look magical. I don't know if we're ever going to get any snow or ice, but it is supposed to get down to freezing tomorrow night. I bet they'd melt in the morning though. Thanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop, at least I can look at the pictures even if I can't do it here! (Pinning too!)

  3. My goodness, such a clever idea! We have a ton of buckets and I never thought of doing something like this. Hmm... maybe this will be a project I work on today... I am just loving peeking around your blog :)