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For the holidays it's fun to share projects with your children. Making an ice lantern is a simple process and looks fabulous. You can add things to your ice - while it freezes - for color and interest. Buckets are an easy container to use but milk cartons, butter tubs, and other concave containers work well too.
Fill your bucket or container with cold water. Leave about 1 inch of space at the top to allow the ice to expand as it freezes.
Place the buckets in a cold place, for example outside in the snow. (Smaller containers can go in a freezer.) Leave the buckets of water in the cold for a good long while. It can take 24 hours in 20 degree weather and more if it's 'warmer' out. You want the water to freeze to about 2 inches thickness on the top and the sides while the center of the bucket remains liquid. This happens because the water freezes from the outside in. To find out if the lantern is complete look down into the bucket through the ice to gauge how thick the walls. It's a bit of a guessing game but it usually works. The most important thing is to not let the water freeze solid. If that happens you end up with a big lump of ice and the bucket will more than likely crack.
To get the lantern out of the bucket flip it upside down and pour some water on it. You want to melt a bit of the bottom and the sides so the ice releases its grip on the bucket. Not too much though or you'll end up melting the lantern completely.
Lift the bucket off the lantern taking care to not bump it too much. Because of the boiling water you used earlier it can be quite fragile and the sudden exposure to cold also releases tensions in the ice causing it to crack. But fret not - the cracks will usually freeze almost immediately and the lantern will stay intact.
If the lantern froze correctly it'll still have water inside and a thin layer of ice on top (what was the bottom of the bucket). Carefully crack a hole in the top and pour out the remaining water so the lantern is nice and dry.
Place the lantern where you want it and place a small candle inside. The high walls will prevent the candle from being burnt out and as a result it can light up a dark night for hours and hours.