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How to Make Ice Balloons!

Updated: Aug 12, 2023

by Meghan Rose Tonery

Beautiful globes of colorful ice made from balloons, food coloring , and freezing water with title: How to Make Ice Balloons.
How to Make Ice Balloons

Whether you call them ice balloons, ice globes, ice marbles, or ice balls, you will adore making this colorful ice activity! My favorite thing about this project is the blending of both art and science. The prep is pretty simple and the effects are stunning when you are playing in the snow.


Are you ready to make your own colorful ice balloons? Read on!

Three stunning ice balloons in red, green, and blue are sitting in the snow.
Ice Globes Red, Green, and Blue.
Supplies:
  • Water

  • Food Coloring (Gel or Regular)

  • Balloons

  • Below freezing temperatures

  • Warm, dark colored gloves

  • Warm winter clothing

If you don't live in a cold climate, you can make these ice balloons in your freezer!


Ice globes in the freezer should be ready after several hours.




A Quick Note about Balloons:

Not all balloons are created equal. Some balloons are thicker than others, which helps them hold up better in the freezing winter weather. I have frozen solid color balloons made of a thinner plastic, and clear balloons made of a thicker plastic.


I found that the thinner balloons couldn't withstand the weight of the water, plus the rapid change from liquid to solid without stretching and breaking. This means my thin, solid color balloons broke in the snow while they were only partially frozen, and the rest of the colorful water leaked out!


Which left me with these...
Beautiful, lightly colored ice balloons stacked on tops of each other.
Ice Balloons Clear Colors

See how these ice balloons are mostly clear with a hint of food coloring? That's because part of the balloon was frozen and the rest was still water. Once the balloon broke, all of the water drained out and so did the food coloring. Personally, I thought these looked really cool- like ice eggs that had hatched from an ice dinosaur!

12 balloons filled with water and food coloring sit in a row on the snow, waiting to be frozen.
How to Make Ice Balls with Balloons.

Thick balloons are better for color mixing:

The thicker, clear balloons are fun because your kids will be able to see the colors they mixed through the clear plastic! I found these clear balloons to be stronger against the elements and less likely to break in the snow.


Although, balloon breaks are always possible, no matter which kind you use- so move your balloons carefully!



A gorgeous purple ice balloon looks stunning in the winter sun.
How to Make Ice Marbles
Steps:
  • Place your balloon opening around your sink faucet.

  • Turn on the cold water, using a slow stream. Start filling your balloon.

  • Keep holding the balloon as you fill it with water. This way your balloon won't pop off and unexpectedly drench you. Did this happen to me? Absolutely.

  • When your balloon is about half way full, turn off the faucet, and then carefully remove the balloon.

  • Squirt your food coloring into the balloon. The more food coloring you use, the brighter the ice balloons will be!

  • You can also experiment with different colors mixed together in the balloon.

  • Then, reattach your balloon onto the faucet. Turn the water back on, and slowly fill up the rest of the balloon.

  • You may want to hold the bottom of the balloon, as it's filling with water. You can use your other hand, or place a bowl under the balloon, and use that as a guide for how big you want your balloon to become.

  • When your balloon is the right size for you, carefully remove the balloon and tie it tightly. Beware of overfilling your balloon and having it break while it's full of water!

  • Repeat these steps for however many balloons you are making.

12 frozen ice balls sit in the snow colored with food coloring in green, blue, purple, and red.
How to Make Colored Ice Balls with Balloons.
  • Then, gently carry your balloons outside. I used a large Tupperware and walked very carefully so the balloons didn't break open.

  • I also recommend wearing dark colored gloves when moving the balloons, to avoid food color stains. *Food coloring washes off skin but sometimes can stain fabrics.

  • Find a place in the snow where your balloons can freeze without being disturbed.

  • Gently lay your balloons on the ground. Now, it's up to the weather!

Check on your balloons after 24 hours:

It may take longer than 24 hours for the ice balloons to become completely frozen. My balloons froze after 2 days of the temperature being 19 degrees Fahrenheit (-7.2 Celsius). Your freezing time will vary depending on the temperature where you live.


When your balloons are totally frozen, use scissors to carefully cut and remove the balloons from the ice. Be sure to throw away any balloon plastic indoors.

A light pink ice ball shines beautifully in the winter sun.
Ice Balls Made with Frozen Water.

But.. when are the ice balloons frozen?

If you poke the balloon and feel ANY squishy parts- your balloon is not completely frozen!


Pro-tip: Check all sides of your balloon to see if it's frozen. You may need to rotate your ice balloon in the snow, if you find water pockets. Sometimes the ground is warmer than the wind, so it's important to check all sides for water.


I don’t recommend cutting open your balloon if it's still partially water. Wait another day and check tomorrow!


But for some, this may be an opportunity to explore the differences between liquid and solids, or observing the changes in color when the ice balloon is partially frozen. If that's you, go for it! The effects of a half frozen ice balloon are still very cool!


Want to try another sensory ice activity?

Check out my post on How to Make Frozen Hands!



I hope you have so much fun making these colorful ice balloons, I know I did!

Be sure to follow me on Tiktok and share this post with someone who would like this craft!



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