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How to Make an Ice Magnifying Glass (start a fire with ice?!)

Our family was watching YouTube one day when we ran across a survival video where a man transformed ice into an ice magnifying glass.

He used this ice magnifying glass to start a fire.

His ultimate goal was to use the ice as a method to start a fire, but we were curious to see if we could figure out how to make a magnifying glass from ice. This was one of our favorite winter science experiments!

We could hardly believe how well this science experiment worked!

Wondering how to make a magnifying glass? Try this magnifying STEM activity to make a DIY ice magnifying glass! Ice really can magnify!

How a Magnifying Glass Works

A magnifying glass works in a particular sort of way. Keep reading to learn how a magnifying glass works (even if it is made out of ice!).

Ice is able to magnify objects through the process of angular magnification and refraction.

The light bounces off the object and travels through the magnifying glass, which bends the rays and creates a virtual image on your eyes.

ice magnifying glass stem activity

Your eyes try to straighten the light rays which makes the object appear larger than actually is.

Find a detailed explanation on magnification here.

How to Make a Magnifying Glass from Ice STEM Activity

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Use these tips to transform ice into an ice magnifying glass!

Ice Magnifying Glass Tips

Your ice magnifying glass will turn out better if you use purified water. Tap water has small impurities that make the ice white rather than clear.

Distilled water is ideal as it will produce the clearest ice blocks and best magnification without distortion.

ice magnifying glass

Supplies for engineering a magnifying glass:

  • Spherical ice mold
  • Purified water (otherwise your ice will be cloudy and you won’t be able to see through it)
  • Objects to magnify

If you love science and STEM but don’t like hunting for supplies, we love the Mel Science kits. They have options for elementary and middle school, and each kit comes with all the supplies needed for each experiment!

winter stem calendar

How to Make a Magnifying Glass at Home Using Ice

We filled our spherical mold half-way with purified water and stuck it in the freezer overnight.

The next morning, we removed the ice from the mold and hand-shaped it to make the top flatter and the edges softer.

This made the sphere look more like a camera lens, which improved the magnification.

ice magnifying glass

Monkey used the piece of ice to magnify the world around her.

We were both surprised to see that our ice magnifying glass actually had greater magnification than our handheld magnifying glass, although the image was a bit wavier.

Monkey had fun magnifying objects with the ice piece until her hands froze and the ice piece became too small to hold.

ice magnifying glass

Monkey theorized that if our ice magnifying glass had been larger, it might have even greater magnification.

That is something we’ll have to try next time!

DIY magnifying glass
winter stem calendar

More Ice Science Experiments to Try

Wacky Science Experiments: How to Make Hot Ice

How to Make Instant Ice in 5 Seconds

Can You Burn Ice? Burning Ice Experiment (not for young kids!)

Sticky Ice Science Experiment

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