How to Make Ice Lanterns

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If you're dreaming of a white Christmas, these lanterns made of ice will add some cool vibes to your next holiday celebration. Frozen inside the ice are cranberries and mint leaves for festive color. The lanterns are sized perfectly to hold an LED candle, which makes the blocks of ice glow from within – without melting them.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Things You'll Need

  • Half gallon juice or milk carton

  • Half pint (or 10 ounce) juice or milk carton

  • Hobby knife

  • Wood skewers

  • Crushed ice

  • Cranberries

  • Mint leaves

  • Regular or distilled water

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 1: Cut the Cartons

We will be using a half gallon carton and a half pint carton to make a mold for the ice lantern. Cut the larger carton with a hobby knife to a height of about 4 1/2 inches, and cut the smaller carton to a height of about 3 1/2 inches. Discard the top sections.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 2: Punch Holes in Cartons

Place the smaller carton inside the larger one. Line up the two cartons at the top. Position one side of the smaller carton in the center of one side of the larger one, and using a hobby knife, punch two holes that go through both cartons. Repeat this step on the opposite side so both cartons have four holes all together.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 3: Insert Skewers Through the Holes

Insert two wood skewers through the boxes using the holes that you've punched. The skewers suspend the smaller carton above the larger one to create a square mold. Adjust the position of the smaller carton so that it's centered.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 4: Fill the Mold

Place a small rock in the smaller carton to add stability to the mold. (The rock also is a reminder that this inner section is not to be filled with water.) Fill the outer section with about one inch of crushed ice. Then drop in a few cranberries and mint leaves. Cover the cranberries and mint with another inch of crushed ice. Add a few more berries and mint on top of that, and cover them with another layer of crushed ice. Then pour water into the mold until the water level reaches about a half inch below the skewers. You'll see that the crushed ice holds down the berries and mint so they don't all float to the top when you add water. Store the mold in the freezer overnight.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong


If you've dropped a little crushed ice into the center section, don't worry about it. It won't affect your ice mold.

Step 5: Slide Out the Inner Carton

After the ice is completely frozen, take it out of the freezer and place in your sink. Remove the skewers. Then run cool tap water into the inner carton. The water in the inner carton will slowly loosen the the ice on the other side so that you can slide out the carton.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong


If the ice has expanded so much that your skewers are frozen in the ice, run water along the top of the ice to melt the top portion until the skewers are free. Don't worry, with the tiny amount you're melting at the top, it will not even be noticeable on your finished ice lantern.

Step 6: Loosen the Ice Block

Run cool water on the outside of the carton to loosen the ice. Keep the water cool. Although it may be tempting to use hot water, a high temperature may crack the ice. Keep turning the carton so water hits the exterior of all four sides.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Eventually, the ice inside will loosen up, and you will be able to just slide it out. Be sure to catch it as it separates from the mold. The ice is slippery and heavy.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 7: Display With an LED Candle

Display the finished ice lantern on a chilled plate. Insert a glass votive holder and an LED candle in the opening, and see the ice glow with a warm light. Because the walls of the ice block are relatively thick, the ice will melt very slowly and should last up to three hours depending on the temperature in your room. You may want to line your plate with a towel to soak up water.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

For those living in colder climates, place these lanterns outside on your front porch or flanking your walkway for a beautiful glow during the winter.