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What You Need To Know About Fake Ice For Food Photography

Fake ice is a staple in many beverage photographers’ kits and in this post we go through why you might want to use fake ice in your drinks photography as well as some of the options you have.

Why Should You Use Fake Ice In Drinks Photography?

First of all why should you consider using fake ice?

Well let’s consider real ice for a second. 

Real ice is always changing as you start using it.

This means it changes size and shape over time throughout the shoot and can also change how the light interacts with it.

This is terrible especially if you are planning on doing composite photos as you want consistency between shots. 

Don’t forget all the water mess that you get from the melting ice!

Photo by Lanju Fotografie on Unsplash

Because of this you are running against a clock to take all your shots in a short amount of time before the ice melts away. 

This is where fake ice wins. Fake ice won’t melt and it will stay the same shape.

This gives you consistency and you will not be rushed in getting your shots. 

Now you know why you should consider using fake ice. Let’s consider the types of ice you can buy.

Cheap Fake Ice

Cheap fake ice is normally made of a cheap acrylic or plastic and has plenty of imperfections such as bubbles and seams.

You can see there are quite a lot of options of fake ice on Amazon and most of these are made of acrylic.

This can be fine to start off if you are just experimenting with fake ice.

If you are a full time food and beverage photographer this can still be useful, however you may want to stick to using it in the background out of focus or in drinks that are dark where you won’t really see the ice much. 

But if you really want to get into close up shots of drinks with ice in them, then you may want to consider higher quality ice.

High Quality Fake ice

High quality fake ice will normally be made of high quality acrylic or glass. These cubes will have really good clarity and look amazing in light. 

As we mentioned before you can get cheap acrylic ice too so make sure you know what you are expecting when you buy some. 

If you want an example of really high quality fake ice then check out the ice that Trengove Studios makes and sells through the Set Shop.

These expensive pieces are hand carved to perfection. They look amazing but can be easily over $40 just for 1 cube! 

This might sound like a lot, but if you want to be serious about food and drinks photography then you should really invest in some good quality ice eventually.

After all, it is reusable. 

What About Crushed Ice? 

You can also buy crushed ice on places like Amazon but you can make it yourself too.

How Do I Make Fake Crushed Ice?

You can use water absorbing crystals to create a crushed ice effect.

You just mix the crystals with water. They will then absorb the water and turn out looking a bit like crushed or shaved ice.

This effect looks closer to snow than ice cubes. You could use this as set decoration or to fill a bowl to place beer bottles or cans in. 

Click on the video below to see the section that covers fake crushed ice.

Does Fake Ice Float?

Real ice should always float in water.

On the other hand, with fake ice it will depend what type of fake ice you use.

Acrylic will sink whereas fake ice made of silicone will float.

There are also some glass cubes that will float.

Silicone fake ice is normally poured into a large mould and teared off in chunks of random sizes.

This can be good since it not only looks natural since it floats, but the random shapes and sizes can make it look less artificial.

The other benefit to silicone ice is that you can cut the pieces to your liking whereas an acrylic or glass cube will have a set shape that you cant change.


Hopefully you have a better idea of what types of fake ice are out there and we hope you found this useful.

For more tips on drinks photography check out our tips for drinks photography post.

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