ice ballons

i saw the idea on flickr, way back in the summertime and i just waited and waited for the right time.  preschool ice sculpture time!!  we are all graduated from preschool, but sweeties that they are, the teachers invite the “alumni” to contribute pieces, too.  The girls filled sand-shape-toy-things (my head is somewhere else, i cant think of what they’re called!) shaped like an octopus and a seahorse and a turtle, they were very cute.  but then, we HAD to do the water balloons.

watch for leaks.  food coloring SHOOTING out of a tiny hole in a balloon = dangerous to wall paint. and tiles. and your clothes.

HOW TO: Add a few drops of food coloring inside an empty balloon.  Put open end of balloon on faucet, SLOWLY turn water on.  Hold spot where it’s attached to the faucet, AND cradle balloon at the bottom.  If you’re nervous, a second set of hands can help.  Take off faucet when full, HOLD THE BALLOON CLOSED and knot.  (It’s a water balloon with coloring in there.  Fill it like you would a regular water balloon.)

lucky for us, we got a little snow and had a little cold.

i took a pr of scissors to the frozen balloons to get the plastic off, and they were so cool.

and a little messy.  i recommend black gloves – won’t see the stains, won’t get food coloring on your hands!

the day we brought them over, it was bright and crisp and DANG COLD.  Please note: you will be surprised at how long it takes for the balloons to freeze.  You know how when you make icecubes it takes FOREVER (especially when you REALLY want a cold drink?)  These take 10x longer.  Or longer than that.  It helps if the temps are WELL BELOW freezing, not just hovering around freezing.  They aren’t all winners, have a look here:

such a pretty little burst of color!


this is really my favorite part of the winter.

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149 Responses to ice ballons

  1. Debbie B. says:

    I think it is so cool that you have that “connection” to participate. It’s a fun project that the the preschool does each year.

  2. Tina says:

    You are setting the cool mommy bar very high for your girls to follow!

    So cool – love the sculptures.

  3. Stormy Huntley says:

    These are possibly the coolest thing I’ve ever seen 🙂 thanks for sharing

  4. Cameron says:

    Cool! You could do this in the summer and freeze them in the freezer for something cool to play with on a hot day!

  5. That is so cool! I think my 16 year old daughter is going to try this now by putting the balloon in the freezer since we live in South Florida! Should be interesting.

  6. donna says:

    just did this outside, used purple to make a center piece for a retirment party at work, will use hydrangeas in purple/blue to fill in the bowl!!! my husband now has green and blue hands, lol

  7. This will be a perfect idea for my sister’s birthday in December because she loves balloons

  8. Susie says:

    Saw this on Pinterest, it’s over 100 in St. Louis today this is a refreshing picture.

  9. I’d have to put mine in the freezer… it never snows in South Texas but once every 100 years… but still pretty cool!

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  11. Chelsea says:

    Such a great idea!! Cant wait to make these!

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  13. Kelli says:

    So you blow up balloons, and then how do you get water in without air going out of balloon? I know this sounds dumb of me, but also messy with the color.

  14. jennifer says:

    Did you know that someone listing your idea on Lista for credits!?

  15. queenvanna says:

    I am not familiar with Lista – what is it? Are you familiar enough with it to tell me – can you flag/report a post? Is there a way for me to let it be known that it’s mine?

  16. pg.wstbrk says:

    Reblogged this on The Wordy Witch and commented:
    Love this idea from The Queen Says. Fill balloons with coloured water, let them freeze, remove the rubber and voila! Icy marbles for a cute yet elegant winter craft.

  17. LynetteB says:

    Echoing Kelli’s question here, how did you get them ‘blown up’ with just water? I tried and they’re tiny, only about 3″ in diameter, whereas in the photos they look closer to bowling-ball size! I assumed the water pressure/weight would be enough to enlarge them more fully, but no luck so far… So were yours actually pretty small too, and they just look bigger in the photos?

    • queenvanna says:

      They’re maybe grapefruit size when done, not very big at all. 4 of them fit nicely in an 8″x8″ pan to freeze. Take a regular party balloon, stretch out the part where you’d put your mouth to blow it up and put that part on the end of the water faucet. Hold on to where the balloon is attached to the faucet and turn on the water SLOWLY – the pressure will fill the balloon with water. You might want to try it once or twice before putting the food coloring in (you do that before the water), because if you’re not holding on, or the water comes out too fast, the balloon will come off the faucet and spray water all over the place.

  18. LynetteB says:

    OK, thanks for the feedback (they definitely look bigger in the photos!)… I’m currently experimenting with blowing the balloons up first and leaving them for a day or two, to stretch them out a bit more, so that they might hold more water. I’m also resorting to making ‘bricks’ with used food containers too. 🙂 Anyway, thanks for the inspiration either way!

  19. Rose says:

    This looks awesome!
    When these melt will they leave dye on concrete steps outdoors, or will it easily wash off?
    Have never really done “food color activities” before.

  20. Linda says:

    love love thanks for sharing! great outdoor Christmas decor!!!!!!

  21. VICKY HILLIS says:


    • queenvanna says:

      There is no air in the balloon. Put the open end of the balloon on a faucet and turn on the water slowly to inflate the balloon with water. The easiest way to describe this project is “frozen water balloons”.

  22. Nancy runyan says:

    Would be a punch bowl too.Whatever color

  23. I Love this idea..- I am a 4-H leader and this sounds like a fun winter activity… Someone above mentioned makeing bricks-well i found this idea —Rainbow cubes… Rainbow Cubed Ice activity!

    • queenvanna says:

      One day very soon I’ll have to dig out the other pictures – our local preschool makes a community ice sculpture and the students and their families all make pieces for an ice sculpture that looks like an ice henge. It’s crazy-artistic and very sweet – All shapes and sizes, frozen colored ice, some with birdseed or toys or sticks or fruit… its really amazing!!

    • LynetteB says:

      I think cutting the bottoms off of milk cartons to make larger cubes would work well too (can you tell I’m still looking on the ‘big’ side of options?) 🙂

      • Dana Hilmoe says:

        I like this idea better. The balloons were messy and hard to fill. The coloring didn’t distribute throughout the balloon. The balloons also were elongated instead of round. Overall disappointed with my results, but may try again. Any other suggestion for coloring? I think something in the food coloring made it separate from the water.

  24. You could maybe do some interesting things with shaped balloons as well. It would also really be nice if you could put something in the middle, suspended, but anything I can think of would settle to the bottom before the water froze.

  25. linda says:

    found that they wouldn’t fill on the kitchen faucet but worked on the bathroom faucet as i could get the baloon to fit over the tap and made big balls. put the food drops in before the water

  26. I live in California in an area where it does not freeze, but I love this idea so much that I will share it with my friends who live in colder climates.

  27. Ma says:

    LOL – sand molds

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  30. Erika says:

    Hi! My name is Erika, and I’m an editor at’s pregnancy + parenting channel. I’d love to feature your ice balloon photo in an upcoming slideshow we’re doing… please contact me at!

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  32. Pam says:

    put the balloon opening arount the small end of a funnel then pour the drops of food color in and slowly add the water instead of putting the balloon on a water faucet.

  33. Karen R says:

    Fantastic idea, we have snow coming here in the UK, won’t care about the mess, these will look gorgeous 🙂 It’s only a shame you can’t put a tealight in them *LOL*

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  37. valerie says:

    I think larger ballons set on yard lights so they glow at night; I’m going to do that soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  38. Jo Davies says:

    We’re just trying this…..they’re in the garden slowly freezing!

  39. Kim says:

    I love these and they are so easy to make but I must be doing something wrong. The outsides freeze but the insides don’t – they remain liquid. I left one of them in the balloon for a week and the center never froze. When I removed it from the balloon the frozen ball shattered as (I think) the inside was starting to freeze.

    • queenvanna says:

      The only thing I can think is that your coloring is alcohol based and/or if you used a lot, it hinders the water from freezing solid. Perhaps more time/colder temps would help?? Try, try again, I say! =)

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  42. kathy b says:

    I am trying this today! Im so excited.
    Thanks for avery fun idea

  43. i was trying and trying to do this and i could not make the balloons big, they looked like over grown ping pong balls. lol my daughter took over and put the food coloring in a balloon and put the neck on the kitchen faucet, she ran the water slow, and boy oh boy those things are HUGE. Now it is a waiting game waiting for them to freeze, since we live in Green Bay it should take a day, can not wait. Have been waiting 5 months to do this

  44. Loops says:

    I can’t get enough water in the balloon to make it stretch. What do I do?

  45. April says:

    By the time mine froze the food coloring settled At the bottom any suggestions?

    • queenvanna says:

      If you look close in a couple of the pictures, mine did, too. It’s not an overall coloring, but when the light hits them the color shines through. To spread it, maybe shift the baloons once or twice as they are freezing?

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  47. Judith Christ says:

    I made ice candles using 12 inch balloons. Place food coloring in the balloo first. The amount depends on the color intensity desired. I found it takes about 50 drops to get a deep color. Then place a bowl with wide opening in the sink, next place balloon opening on faucet (larger ballon-larger opening; makes it easier, I had no problem with fit). Hold tight and begin to fill, swirrling around gently as the ballon enlarges to mix good dye. Let ballon rest in bowl at this point. When full tie neck and TRANSPORT IN THE BOWL to the location for freezing. I recommend a place other than it’s display location. Let freeze at least 24-36 hours. I found it best not to burry in snow. Using rubber gloves remove ballons, there will be unfrozen water in center of ice; empty this out. There should be an unfrozen area or thin ice area on the sphere. Empty water. On a few I had to enlarge the opening to fit the candle Transport to display location. Use votive or tea light candles placed in hallow center and light. I did a few without food dye and loved them equally well.

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  49. Christa says:

    This is not worth the mess! Potential for baloon to burst with dye in it, the children will ruin their mitts and get the dye on their snowsuits as they melt. (they have to touch them) They stain wooden decks and concrete. Pretty to look at, but not worth the trouble!

  50. Barb Lewi says:

    I’m going to try the punch ball balloons this weekend. Also thought to try putting an uninflated colored tube balloon inside the punch ball balloon, fill it with clear water and tie it off, then fill the punch ball balloon with clear water. Only cutting off the punch ball balloon when frozen. Maybe it willl give it a “cat’s eye” marble effect? I’ll let you know how it goes. Or put a flat piece of cardboard inside the tube balloon to make it flat like the cat’s eye marble shape is. Oh the possibilities are endless!!

  51. tryst lake says:

    how much food coloring do you use, I tried this but mine didnt turn out very dark or bright and i thought I had used quite a bit of food coloring

    • queenvanna says:

      I can’t say for sure, I just made a new batch to freeze and maybe 15 or 20 drops? A good healthy squeeze. I think the color really shows through on mine because they’re on the white snow. They wouldn’t be as bright on the regular ground.

  52. WooWoo Lin says:

    Sprayed Pam inside first – hope it will make the plastic come off easier. Added glow sticks, Pam also helps the glow sticks slide in, and move around easier, less likely to burst balloon. Added food color next and then water. We are having a birthday party tonight, and hoping to set the festive mood as people walk down the sidewalk to the front door. 🙂

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  54. Sarah says:

    Does anyone know what you could add to make hem glow at night?

  55. a mark says:

    I just did this with my daughter tonight— we used the punching balloons so they came out HUGE! Hopefully they work we shall see in the morning.

  56. Molly says:

    I didn’t read through all the comments so this might have been posted previously but you can even add glow sticks. When glow sticks are frozen they glow longer SO if you plan when you make them you could do one batch with them during the day and one batch with the glow sticks at night!

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  61. RCD says:

    Has anyone tried using unsweetened Koolaid powder for a deeper color? Haven’t tried it yet. I’m waiting for an extended freeze so this can be done mostly outside.

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  64. We purchased dollar store balloons. Inflate the balloons first for pin holes. I would recommend buying party balloons next time. Tried twice, I found that if you mix or swish the water and food coloring it seems to distribute the color better.I had to wait for cold weather to freeze the balloons. It took 3 days, here in Maine can you imagine. I got a chance to peel and display the orbs I was happy and I will try again. hopefully the weather gets cold enough.

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  66. karl says:

    As for lighting up the balloons. I am adding a string of white Christmas lights in a tube with holes in it and placing the colored balloons over the holes to project the light into them. So I am able to light them at night.

    • Jolene says:

      Karl! I was trying to think of how to add xmas lighting to these so they would come on and turn off with my automatic light timer. I couldnt think of any way to do it and keep the lights protected from out cold Canadian snow. Thanks so much! I’m headed out to buy some small pvc pipe today!!

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  70. First of all I had a hard time getting the balloon open enough to get the drops of food coloring in so I discovered that if you take a rubber hose washer and put the opening of the balloon over that then you can put your drops of coloring in, then pop the washer out and then put the balloon over your faucet and fill, I really had no mess at all after using the hose washer.

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  73. Barbara says:

    My 10 y.o. and I are going to do this RIGHT NOW! Soooo great! She’s (and I) been cooped up all week, sick, and this would be a great diversion in this 20 degree Boise weather. Can’t wait to wake up to them tomorrow. Thanks for the post.

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  75. Linda Fugate says:

    Mine have been outside for two days in freezing weather and still haven’t froze.

    • queenvanna says:

      It does take a really long time depending on their size and how much coloring are in them, my only suggestion might be to make sure they are away from the house and remain shaded.

  76. Karolina says:

    Love this idea 🙂 I have found the photo of ice baloons on pinterest. It hase inspired me to make a smaller version of ice outdor decorations:

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  78. The Genepy Five says:

    There are Five of us in Val D,Isere, a French ski resort and we are spraying food colouring everywhere. if we had not had several bottles of vin rouge by now it would not be funny! This is VERY difficult to do without special equipment but we are taking our little peanut sized balloons out to the village to bury into snow tonight at 11 pm and hope for the best . Hello America we love your enthusiasm but how about a few more instructions next time 😉 !!! love Olivier, Nick,Nicky, Sharon and Caroline

  79. The Genepy Five says:

    we have now solved it – use 2 clamps – fill the balloon from tap – clamp it and then put in dye – clamp end – move bottom clamp – shake to mix dye and then put back low clamp – knot and then remove clamp!!

  80. queenvanna says:

    FRENCH PEOPLE!!!! We do not want an international incident!! Step 1: Put 5-10 food coloring drops in balloon. 2: Do THIS: 3: Clamp if you must. Probably, because, WINE. 4: Tie knot

  81. Kat G. says:

    I am thinking a less messy way of coloring the ice might be to use children’s washable liquid paint?!!

  82. Madeleine says:

    I am doing this tonight and blogging about it too! Found this on Pinterest and am linking back to you – so excited for the freeze!

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  85. hope33 says:

    Reblogged this on LovinYouAlwaysAndForever and commented:
    I would love to do this if we got enough snow!

  86. Toni says:

    We have had color stay in the center too ?? It is well mixed, any other suggestions to make it solid color? We will try rolling around while freezing next batch. Depends on temp. to freeze solid too, can’t be too anxious. We even saw liquid sloshing in middle, DO NOT TOUCH !!! lol … if they get buried with snow, uncover and put on top again, snow insulates and they don’t freeze solid.

  87. kim says:

    Great idea but I give up! Color settles into one spot even though very well mixed and while our temps never got above 30, they still wouldn’t freeze in the center so the middle would leak out when you “pop” the balloon.

    • Jolene says:

      If that happens you should try gently setting them ontop of a batery operated tealight so they glow. Then they will look like a glowing orb.

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  89. Sam says:

    Could you freeze them in a freezer.

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  92. Sarah says:

    mine have been outside in below freezing temps for over 24 hours and still haven’t froze! We’ve gotten 12 in. of snow and I keep uncovering them but they still won’t freeze! 🙁 I was sooo excited to make these and couldn’t wait till it got cold enough…now I’m sad!

  93. Toni says:

    be patient, just leave balloons on, till they freeze. they are pretty too Look at the insides for beautiful changes as they are freezing. how do I attach a picture ?

  94. amy says:

    10 p.m. and i am giggling for morning to come! i didn’t find it messy at all. When you put the color drops in the balloon “squeeze” the balloon at it’s “crease” to open and it goes right down without touching the sides. Having several ladies over for craft day tomorrow and my sidewalk is lined with festive little globes! It’s 16 degrees here tonight and expected only 30’s tomorrow, so it’s perfect!! Oh and no children (by age) involved. Thanks for the fun idea!!!

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  101. Megan says:

    I was just wondering how long it took to freeze? I just put mine outside and its apparently its about -12 to -15 degrees Celsius here.

    • queenvanna says:

      It takes a lot longer than I thought. I suppose it depends on how big you make the balloons, the same as when you’re making ice cubes inside – the more water, the longer it takes. I leave mine at least over 2 nights or longer – better to leave them to be sure they’re solid than try to take them out before they’re completely done!

  102. Missy says:

    This would be great to do with different colored fruit juices instead of food coloring. The wildlife such as squirrels and chipmunks would love it; you would be creating a nice winter snack for them as well as a pretty yard decoration for yourself and I imagine the juice might freeze faster. Just a thought.

  103. Sandra says:

    Love the idea trying them tonight got them outside first one was a little messy but after that very easy you do need helium quality balloons so excited can’t wait to see if it works I’ll make more for Christmas Day can’t wait to put them on Facebook since we are in Korea so will show all the ladies ! (:

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  105. Andria says:

    I’ve just come here from Pinterest, and we have well below freezing temperatures today, so we’ll be trying it! I’m glad I read in the comments that it can take a couple of nights to freeze…that will help me set my girls’ expectations for seeing the results!

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  110. Erika says:

    Wow! That’s cool!
    Do you use warm or cold water? Does it matter? 🙂

  111. Vicky says:

    What type I bought some at party city bitaybe water balloons are better

  112. Alaa says:

    Just did this outside, love it.
    Thank you for sharing 🙂

  113. Katie Adams says:

    This is such a fun idea! I am definitely going to try this!

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  116. Sharon says:

    I tried this since Charlotte NC was going to be very cold for two days. They froze but the color congregated to one section of ball. Does anyone know how to avoid this.

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