The weather’s warming up, and what better way to escape the worrisome prospect of trudging out into the sun-baked wasteland that was once your front yard than a refreshing, ice-cold list? Kick your feet up and chill with this collection of bizarre and ingenious items made from (almost) nothing but ice.
10 Soda Bottles
It’s an idea so obvious that’s it’s amazing no one dreamed it up sooner—a self-cooling soda bottle made entirely of ice. Available only in Colombia, Coca-Cola created the inventive vessels in an effort to guarantee customers an ice-cold beverage while also cutting back on waste.
Made from silicon molds filled with filtered water, the bottles have proven extremely popular with Colombia’s beachgoers. Some vendors have reported selling as many as 265 bottles an hour. After the Coke has been consumed, the bottle simply melts away, leaving the drinker with a small souvenir—an elastic grip, sporting the Coca Cola logo, that can be worn as a bracelet.
While the bottles are popular, some argue that their ecological benefits are canceled out by the extra refrigeration needed to create them. Still, their intense popularity suggests that perhaps the rest of the world will get their hands on this cool concept in the future. The numb fingers will be well worth it.
Saunas are traditionally associated with steam, stifling heat, and sweat. It’s interesting, then, that many spas have begun building them out of a material that doesn’t do particularly well in these conditions.
Ice saunas are exactly what they sound like—small buildings constructed from large blocks of ice in which people gather for a good sweat. A number of these innovative sweat lodges are located in Finland during the winter months. Light filters through the ice to lend the interior a whimsical, otherworldly atmosphere, making the huts popular relaxation destinations. However, the heat isn’t as intense as in traditional saunas, and socks are recommended to protect feet from the chilly floor, because nothing ruins a good steam faster than frostbitten toes.
8 Musical Instruments
Throughout history, everything from wood to brass to animal intestines have been used to create beautiful music. But sculptor and musician Tim Linhart has organized a band which uses almost nothing but solidified water in their elaborate musical numbers.
You might think that the sounds produced by such instruments would be inferior to their more conventional counterparts, but that’s not the case. Their fine, delicate sound adds a heavenly note to classical violin pieces, bluegrass banjo arrangements, and everything in between. Huge spherical ice “drums” and icy makeshift xylophones are used for percussion.
Linhart’s unusual band has played venues around the world, but the shows must end in the spring. The instruments, while beautiful, are so fragile that their players have to avoid even breathing on them for fear of warping them out of tune. Post-winter maintenance is simply too difficult, and the instruments are left to melt. Fear not, however, for Linhart cranks out a new batch every year.
When people are looking for a place to chill out and have a few a drinks, the local bar or nightclub is the obvious choice. Some establishments fulfill the “chill out” criterion a little too well. Offering guests all the comforts of the Arctic Circle, ice bars are a slowly growing trend.
These wintry watering holes require gear fit for an expedition to the far north, but people nonetheless flock to the frigid clubs. Glittering ice forms the bar, chairs, walls, decor, and even the glasses, treating guests to a truly surreal evening. Some ice bars are permanent establishments, while others are assembled only temporarily.
Nippy nightspots like these are popping up all over the globe. With several in the US and Europe, odds are you that could visit one with very little trouble. Drop by at your own risk, though; you may end up colder than your drink.
6 Aircraft Carriers
World War II saw some of the most bizarre wartime innovations in history. Animals and James Bond–worthy gadgets made their way into the fray, but the most ambitious (and insane) attempt to one-up the enemy came in the form of an icy aircraft carrier.
Named for quirky British inventor Geoffrey Pyke, Pykrete was a simple combination of water and sawdust. When frozen, it was as strong as concrete but still able to float. Pyke’s plan was to build supersize aircraft carriers out of this miraculous substance, providing the British with a quick and cheap naval advantage. The only problem was that ice, obviously, melts. Massive cooling systems were required to keep the ships from melting out from under their passengers.
Despite extensive testing and the construction of a small prototype, the plan was never put into practice. The war ended soon after work began, and the project fell apart.
Typically, the only ice found in a hotel is being noisily produced by the machine down the hall, but that simply wasn’t enough for a few odd establishments. Around the world, icy inns are opening to provide guests with a polar paradise.
Though ice hotels can now be found in several countries, the original was ICEHOTEL in Sweden. Every winter, artists arrive to sculpt an entire hotel from countless 2-ton blocks of a snow and ice mixture called “snice.” Aside from the bedding, the rooms are composed entirely of this frigid material. The average temperature of the hotel is –6 degrees Celsius (21 °F), making parkas and other cold weather gear necessary for those whose idea of a dream getaway doesn’t include hypothermia.
As beautiful as these ethereal crystal structures are, they cannot last forever. Every spring, the hotels melt away, and every winter, they’re rebuilt, making a stay in an ice hotel a truly one-of-a-kind experience.
Outdated format or not, records are still popular among music lovers all over the world. Many bands still produce them, but none have done so in the way that Swedish indie group Shout Out Louds did a few years ago.
After being assured by various specialists that the scheme would never work, the band devised the plan on their own. Ten special kits were sent to journalists and superfans, containing a silicon mold, a bottle of distilled water, and instructions for the creation of the distinctive disc. After six hours in the freezer, a shiny, new ice record was ready for the turntable. Inscribed with the tune “Blue Ice,” the fleeting format was meant to reflect the song’s theme of fading love.
Admittedly, the sound quality was quite poor, but managing to create an ice record that works at all is still an amazing achievement.
Imagine a magnificent, icy palace, its halls shimmering with otherworldly light and crystalline spires gleaming in the Sun. It sounds like something from Frozen, but incredible structures just like this actually exist all over the world—during the winter, anyway.
Built either by creating and fusing countless massive icicles or by simply sculpting them from the snow, these huge, whimsical structures are something pulled straight from a fairy tale. Thousands of tourists pass through the glittering gates of these incredibly popular ice castles every cold season. Embraced by the soft, blue glow of the otherworldly architecture, visitors are transported to a fantastic frozen realm.
Of course, like most things made of ice, these frosty forts are frustratingly temporary. Every spring, they melt and must be painstakingly recreated from tens of millions of pounds of snow and ice the following winter. It’s an insane amount of effort, but the breathtaking results are well worth it.
It’s the dream of every assassin—a bullet with all the power of a conventional metal round that simply melts away after eliminating the target, leaving no evidence behind. It sounds crazy, but some believe it can easily be done.
Popping up in various films and television shows, the mystery of the ice bullets has intrigued firearms junkies for years. The hit TV show Mythbusters covered the issue in their very first episode. They determined that the slugs would be too brittle and would disintegrate before reaching their target. Others remained unconvinced and tested the theory on their own, finding that the rounds survived when encased in a thin capsule, but they were wildly inaccurate.
Despite several unsuccessful tests, the ice bullet remains the ultimate prize for would-be serial killers the world over. A quick browse through Google reveals scores of test results and queries regarding the treacherous technology.
1 Fukushima Ice Wall
In easily the most ambitious, large-scale use of ice on this list, we have the Fukushima ice wall. The idea sounds insane; it’s a subterranean wall of frozen soil 1.6 kilometers (1 mi) and 30 meters (100 ft) deep. It’s a bit over the top, but so were the circumstances that led to its creation.
In 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake devastated Japan. Tsunamis and massive loss of life followed in its wake, but perhaps the gravest consequence was the damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. It’s leaking radiation and contaminating groundwater that flows out to the ocean, a situation that had to be dealt with. Five years and $300 million later, the ice wall was born.
By sinking steel tubes 30 meters (100 ft) into the Earth and pumping coolant through them, the plan is to freeze groundwater into a solid sheet. This impermeable wall will divert incoming groundwater around the damaged facility, keeping it from being contaminated as it flows toward the sea. Activated in April 2016, it’s unclear yet whether it will be successful. Mr. Freeze waits with bated breath.
Alex is just a guy who enjoys writing. And zombies. And occasionally tacos.