Arts and industries gradually build up a library of useful terms or jargon that outsiders may have trouble understanding. Ice sculpting is no different. Some ice terms are defined below and more will be added as time goes on. Most of these terms are widespread among ice carvers, some less so, and there are even a few that you might find only on this site. Email questions or suggestions to email@example.com.
absolute zeroThe theoretical temperature point at which it’s so cold that all motion stops. Absolute zero is at about -273° C.
aluminum weldingUsing aluminum plate (1/2” to 3/4” thick) to aid the welding process by “perfecting” the weld surfaces (making them almost perfectly flat) See weld.
can ice or blockBlock ice made in a slight tapered “can” or block-shaped mold by suspending the can in freezing brine solution. Even when the water is circulated, can ice blocks will have a characteristic “feather” or core of white ice inside the middle of an otherwise clear block. Upright blocks are slightly wider and thicker at the top. This taper helps the block slide out of the “can” after harvesting. Blocks typically weigh 300 lbs. or more.
channel lugeA luge sculpture that has a channel or track cut into the ice for liquid to flow down. The track is a lot like a bobsled or luge track and probably accounts for the name. See luge.
Clinebell ice or blockBlock ice made in a machine from Clinebell Equipment Corporation that circulates the water and freezes the ice from only one direction, resulting in very clear ice blocks after any cloudy ice is shaved off the top. Blocks typically weigh around 300 lbs. and measure 40” tall, 20” wide, and 9 3/4” thick and often are packaged in heavy duty cardboard boxes that simplifies handling, insulation, and tempering of the blocks.
CNC machineSpecifically, CNC stands for Computerized Numerical Control. A CNC machine is essentially a programmable computer controlled router that has found use in many industries. Ice carvers use CNCs for snowfill engraved logos, smaller high-volume ice pieces, or really any type of piece where precise control and/or easy duplication is an asset. The machines can be expensive and they have some limitations, but they are becoming more and more common in the ice carving industry.
coldAn absence or lack of heat energy.
cold iceAll ice is cold, but “cold ice” is ice that’s not tempered and wet. Its surface is dry to the touch.
colorfillSimilar to snowfill, color effects are created by adding colored sand or paint/gelatin mixtures from the back of a piece of ice and then freezing it in place with snow, slush, or ice.
cookie-cutThe process of cutting out the outline or silhouette of an ice carving. It’s usually the first step for a hand carved sculpture from a single block of ice. The result is as if someone had used a giant cookie cutter on the block of ice.
crashIf a competition sculpture collapses during an ice carving competition or after the competition but before judging is complete, then it “crashed”.
dry iceDry ice is frozen carbon dioxide and is VERY cold (-109.3° F, -78.5° C). Dry ice has no water content. Some people call it “hot ice” because the surface will “burn” your skin by freezing it.
featherA feathery looking white ice core in the middle of an otherwise clear ice block.
flumeAnother word for a luge.
glass or glassingUsing heat to clear up and smooth the ice, which makes it look like glass or crystal.
harvestWith artificial ice blocks, you harvest ready blocks from an ice block machine. For natural ice, harvesting means cutting blocks free from the frozen surface of a lake or river and then transporting them to storage or to be used.
- A single block of ice
- A free-standing bar for serving drinks or food, made completely from ice
- A conventional liquor service bar that includes a refrigerated strip of metal that gradually builds up frost.
- A bar where the building and furnishings are composed largely or completely of ice. Also referred to as an ice lounge.
ice farmerSomeone who produces ice blocks as part or all of their profession.
ice groupieSomeone who likes ice carvings, particularly ice carving competitions.
ice loungeA bar where the building and furnishings are composed largely or completely of ice. Also see ice bar.
inclusionSomething that’s been frozen into an ice block.
lugePronounced “loog,” with the “g” pronounced like the second “g” in “garage”; a sculpture that incorporates a channel or plastic tube designed to control the gravity driven flow of liquid from one part of the sculpture to another. Generally, a bartender pours a drink into the entry point of the luge (often a funnel) and a glass catches the drink at the exit point of the luge. Sometimes, the luge is used to pour drinks directly into the mouth, but this isn’t particularly sanitary. Luges that use a channel cut into the ice will cool the beverage, while luges that use a tube will not. Either way, the liquid poured into the luge should be prechilled as warm liquids will degrade a channel luge faster. See channel luge and tube luge.
marble weldingUsing marble instead of aluminum to flatten weld surfaces. Marble tends to crack after repeated uses, however, so aluminum is preferred. See weld.
meltwaterThe water resulting from melting ice.
nailboardA tool that generally consists of a flat board with handles and many sharp screws protruding from the opposite side. The screw points are all set at the same level, so the nailboard is an effective tool for flattening ice. Steve Brice invented this very useful tool.
NICAThe National Ice Carving Association. This organization has been around since the late 1980’s and is based in the Chicago Metro area. Their website is at www.nica.org
pagophileIce-loving. Pagophilic animals include walruses, seals, polar bears, some penguins, and most ice carvers.
perfect surfaceAn area of ice that has been surfaced so that it is almost perfectly flat and ready for welding. See weld.
refrigerantA chemical, such as butane or gum-freeze, that makes a surface colder when the chemical is sprayed on it. Refrigerants can be toxic and/or highly inflammable (or flammable, depending on what you’re used to) and therefore should be used with a great deal of caution.
- Another word for a luge
- A life-sized slide made from ice rather than metal or other substances.