Ice balls are all the rage in the bar industry these days. The presses turn the boring ice cube into a spherical piece of art that perfectly accents a delicious beverage.
However, when I looked up ice ball presses to add to my home bar, I was shocked to see their price ranging between $100 and $1,000 for popular models.
I couldn’t help but wonder, what’s with all the fuss? Why are these seemingly simple devices so expensive?
Generally speaking, ice ball presses are so expensive because they are made primarily of 5 pounds of metal that is very costly. Also, ice ball presses require exact measurements and precision in manufacturing, meaning they take longer to produce than silicon or plastic ice molds, and as we know, time is money.
Other Factors That Increase The Cost of Ice Ball Presses
Another key factor in the manufacturing cost is the anodization of the metal.
Anodization prevents bacterial development, rust, and other damages to the press during its lifetime of use but adds to the price of the machinery.
Also, shipping metal costs a lot more than shipping plastic. The cost of gasoline, the product weight, and the speed of delivery all increase the cost of ice ball presses.
Breaking Down The Cost Of Ice Ball Presses
There’s more to the cost of ice ball presses than you might think. It’s not just about shipping and manufacturing, though those are the primary factors impacting the cost of the product.
Here is an in-depth look at the factors that impact the price of ice ball presses.
Iceball presses are a relatively new commodity in the world of beverages. The technology relies on pressure and conduction to press ice cylinders into smooth spheres.
Because of the newness of the product, its cost isn’t likely to change in the near future.
Purpose And Industry
Iceball press manufacturers aren’t generally selling with homeowners as their target audience.
Instead, manufacturers generally target small businesses, bars, and restaurants that might serve beverages as their primary audience.
Because businesses usually purchase the ice ball presses, the cost makes more sense – a $500 ice ball press is far more feasible for a restaurant to acquire than an at-home whisky enthusiast.
Most ice ball presses consist of stainless steel or copper materials. Copper ice ball presses cost more because copper is a more expensive metal.
Regardless, solid metal materials cost a lot of money to purchase, cut, and mold into the ice ball press shape.
Note that copper ice ball presses conduct heat better than aluminum or stainless steel.
That said, stainless steel and aluminum variations cost less, compensating for their inefficiency.
Some ice ball presses are entirely mechanical, with a button and motor that allows you to press ice balls without using manual labor.
Cheaper models use convection and physical force to mold the ice ball.
Iceball presses often come in unique colors or metallic sheens that add to their looks, but usually, those sheens come with a purpose.
Anodization is the process that creates metallic sheens on ice ball presses, and the process also protects the material from contaminants.
The protective layer helps protect metal products exposed to water from developing rust.
Understanding How Ice Presses Work
Achieving the perfect spherical ice ball has challenged bartenders for decades.
Older methods produced spheres with lines around the center, chips, or foggy surfaces that detract from the appearance of the ice.
Modern ice presses typically use convection and pressure to create ice spheres.
Ice Balls And Convection
Convection uses heat and liquid to create spheres. Iceball presses generally function best at room temperature or when heated to warmer than room temperature because they produce convection better.
The warm metal forces the colder portions of the ice down, and when applied with pressure, molds the ice into a spherical shape.
The shape produced depends on the internal shape of the ice ball cavity. If, for example, the press is cubed shaped, you would get an ice cube out of the process.
Ice Balls And Pressure
If you apply the heat of convection to quickly melt the sides of an ice cylinder and push down hard on the ice, it will mold into the shape of the press.
Without convection, molding the ice would likely result in crushed or broken spheres. But, without the pressure, the convection would do nothing but melt the ice.
Ice Ball Presses Make Spheres Quickly
The scientific technology behind ice balls works efficiently; you can produce a single ice sphere in a matter of seconds.
However, the press must sit at room temperature long enough to feel the same temperature as the room for the press to work correctly.
Alternatively, you can run the ice ball press under hot water to prep it for molding ice spheres.
Benefits Of Purchasing An Ice Ball Press
An ice ball press can make bartending at home or in a restaurant fun and fast. It takes little effort to produce an ice ball with a press, and the ball itself can add class to your drink presentation.
Additionally, ice ball presses consist of metallic materials. Cheaper alternatives made of silicon or plastic can impart flavor into the ice, which ultimately can ruin the taste of your drink.
Finally, ice balls have less surface area than ice cubes. This means that the ice will melt slower because less liquid touches the ice, and so the drink will not dilute as quickly as with ice cubes.
Ice Ball Press Vs. Ice Ball Mold
When shopping for ice presses, you’ll likely come across ice ball molds as well. The two products create similar end results, an ice ball, but achieve it through different methods.
Ice Ball Press
As previously mentioned, an ice ball press uses conduction (heat) and weight to create ice balls.
The heat melts the ice while the weight forces it into the shape desired.
Ice molds, on the other hand, work like ice trays. You fill the mold with water, and the ice freezes into the shape of its container.
Molds usually consist of silicone or plastic materials, and while cheaper, do not produce as seamless or nice-looking ice balls.
Most Expensive Ice Balls (Plus 5 Affordable Alternatives)
Average Cost of Ice Ball Presses
You’ll find that most ice ball presses range between $200 and $1500. The range might seem extreme, but it boils down to the materials.
Ice ball presses made of copper or aluminum will cost more due to the metal being in high demand and harder to work with; however, they are the best materials for ice ball presses.
Cheaper variations usually consist of low-grade aluminum or stainless steel and won’t conduct heat as well, so the balls won’t come out as nice or easily.
The Meltdown name has reached massive popularity; Instagram and Forbes magazine featured them at one point.
The Meltdown Mogul consists of 99.8% copper, perfect for conduction and weight necessary to create ice balls.
In addition, its CatchAll base collects water as the ice melts to form the sphere, leaving you with a mess-free process.
Meltdown does have slightly less expensive models, the Copper Topper comes in at $1,295, and the Chubby model costs $895-$995.
Offering professional results for a fraction of the cost at $299.99, Pressice’s Ice Ball Press Kit comes with all the bells and whistles to get you started with ice pressing.
The kit includes the ball press, a mat, drip tray, whisky glasses with leather coasters, and tongs. Of course, your package comes in a classy pine box, too.
The Icebirg Platinum press consists of an impressive 99.9% copper, more than its Meltdown competitor.
The Icebirg Platinum comes with a pressure release system and a knobless design for the ultimate user-friendly experience.
You can also purchase the Icebirg Platinum in a kit for $899 that includes storage, glasses, and other accessories.
K.O.I. or “King of the Ice” offers some unique features compared to their competition.
Their K.O.I. ice ball press features an integrated overflow pan, an ejector button for seamless ice removal, and a unique handle.
Additionally, K.O.I. offers exceptional customer service. However, their product consists of aluminum, so its conduction is less efficient than copper competitors.
5.Cirrus Iceball Press
Cirrus is a big name in the ice ball press industry. You can usually find their products carried by big name brand stores like William and Sonoma.
Their Ice Ball Press set has a lifetime warranty, a protective crush-proof case, tongs, and a drip tray.
Their product consists of Aircraft Grade 6061 Aluminum, anodized, and rustproof.
Cheaper Alternatives To Traditional Ice Ball Presses
We’ve found the most popular alternatives to more expensive ice ball presses. Check out the cost comparison and breakdown of the products below.
|Product Name||Product Material||Cost|
|Average Ice Ball Price||Copper or Aluminum||$300-$1500|
|Vevor Ice Ball Press||Aluminum||$169.99|
|Cumulus Ice Ball Press||Aluminum||$149|
|Berlinzo Ice Mold||Silicone||$59.95|
|Simpletaste Iceball Mold||Silicone||$20.99|
|Glacio Ice Cube Mold||Silicone||$12.99|
1.Vevor Ice Ball Press
For an inexpensive alternative to conduction and weight-based ice ball presses, the Vevor Ice Ball Press is a great choice.
The Vevor consists of aircraft-grade aluminum and produces a traditional 2.4” ice ball.
Another nice feature is the non-skid exterior texture to help you make ice balls without the risk of dropping the press.
2.Cumulus Ice Ball Press
The Cumulus Ice Ball Press Kit is a great starter kit for individuals considering an ice ball press.
The model produces smaller ice balls than traditional, at about 1.75” versus the usual 2”+.
However, the Cumulus can get the job done if the size of the ball produced isn’t a dealer breaker.
3.Berlinzo Ice Ball Mold
The Berlinzo ice ball mold technically does not produce pressed ice balls, but it comes close to perfection for a silicone-based option.
The model uses a BPA-free silicone mold inserted into a water storage box.
When placed in the freezer, the mold creates ice spheres. The Berlinzo ice ball set includes a storage bag for the ice balls, too.
However, because silicon is the primary material, the ice can pick up a plastic flavoring on occasion.
4.Simpletaste Ice Ball Mold
The Simpletaste ice ball mold is an excellent choice for beginners in the ice ball world.
You simply fill the container with water and slide it in the ice ball silicone mold before placing the container in the freezer.
In about eighteen hours, your ice balls are ready. However, this set only makes two ice balls at a time, and the silicon can impart flavors into the ice.
5.Glacio Ice Cube Mold
For a truly inexpensive ice ball set, the Glacio mold can do the trick. You simply fill the two silicon molds with water using the small hole at the top of the ball.
After about eighteen to twenty-four hours, you can remove the balls from the freezer and peel off the silicon to reveal the ice balls.
The silicon materials are inexpensive, but over time can collect damage and leave a plastic flavor in the ice, so you may want to keep that in mind when purchasing the item.
Ice ball presses can bring your bartending game to a new level, whether at home or the restaurant.
However, they can prove quite expensive and may not be the best option for homeowners looking to try ice balls.
Inexpensive alternatives exist, but you’ll want to weigh the benefits of silicone and metal products before purchasing them.
Don’t be afraid to shop around, and when in doubt, buy a press that uses quality metal materials like copper or aluminum.
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My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.