How to Make an Ice Bucket

Written by elle williams
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How to Make an Ice Bucket
Making your own bucket out of ice is a stylish yet functional alternative to a standard metal bucket like this. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

An ice bucket is an elegant and innovative way to keep bottles of wine or spirits chilled at dinners and parties. Instead of storing bottles in a metal bucket filled with ice water, you can fashion your own bucket made purely of ice. This type of ice bucket serves a functional purpose in an eye-catching form. Displaying several ice buckets of different sizes is an inexpensive alternative to ordering a professionally made ice sculpture, an option that can save hundreds of dollars.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Empty paint can, 2 gallon
  • Empty paint can, 1 gallon
  • String or twine
  • Black marker or pen
  • Pliers
  • Cold purified water
  • Freezer or flat-bottomed ice chest
  • Food colouring (optional)
  • Hot water
  • Ice cubes

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  1. 1

    Peel labels off the paint cans and remove any residual adhesive.

    How to Make an Ice Bucket
    A paint can with smooth, label-free sides will serve as the mould for your ice bucket. (tin image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from
  2. 2

    Remove handle from smaller paint can using pliers.

  3. 3

    Clean interior of larger can to ensure that it's free of loose debris.

  1. 1

    Set a 1-gallon paint can inside the larger can and line it up so the handle joints of the large can line up with the holes where the handle of the smaller can attached.

  2. 2

    Tie one end of string to the base of the handle on the larger can, and feed the string through the near hole in the smaller can. Pull string taut and tie a knot on the inside of the smaller can.

  3. 3

    Feed string through hole on the other side of the small can and pull taut. Mark the string just inside the smaller can.

  4. 4

    Pull the string out of the hole and tie a knot at the marked spot, then feed the free end back through the hole and tie it around the handle of the larger can, making sure the string stays taut all the while.

    The small can should now be hanging from the string, not touching the bottom or sides of the large can.

  1. 1

    Fill the space between cans with purified water. If desired, add four drops of food colouring in the water equally spaced around the can.

    How to Make an Ice Bucket
    Adding drops of food colouring to the water after it's been poured can create unique designs instead of a uniform colour. (different colours in water image by Natalja from
  2. 2

    Carefully place can mould into a freezer or an ice chest, making sure the bottom is level. Freeze for at least three hours or overnight.

  3. 3

    Remove frozen mould from freezer and cut and discard string.

  4. 4

    Heat cans to unmould the ice bucket: Submerge entire mould in hot water for 10 seconds. Fill interior can with hot water for 10 seconds.

  5. 5

    Gently rotate interior can until it can be pulled free, then invert large can and slip it off the ice.

  6. 6

    Fill ice bucket with chilled bottles of wine or other beverages, and top with ice cubes.

Tips and warnings

  • A 1-gallon bucket should hold one or two bottles of wine. Try different sizes of paint cans or food cans to create ice buckets of various size and thickness.
  • Experiment with colour. Mix colours into purified water before pouring into the mould for a more uniform look.
  • Using tap water or water that isn't purified might result in cloudy ice, though that could be a desirable look.

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