Oily Ice Balls.

If you still have some freezing nights and didn’t have a chance to play with colourful ice this activity can be right for you. It was fun to prepare it together with kids. The part of exploring and playing was very engaging and filled with lots of discoveries.

What you need:

Water balloons (I saved some from summer for this activity)






Plastic tubs

We filled the balloons with paint with the help of droppers. In the empty balloon we added some paint and oil and then filled it with water.

Originally I took the oil to make a couple of balloons with it inside – to see what will happen with it when frozen. But it was so interesting to look at the paint drops, which didn’t mix in the bowl.

We also looked at them through the balloons after we filled them. It was so fascinating that we couldn’t resist making all the balloons oily.

After we had a bunch of balloons ready, we put them outside.

I left some of them in the tub, and the rest on the smooth clear surface on the balcony. When we came to check them next morning some of the balloons were busted. It added an interesting twist to our game. 

The balloons, which were in the tub, were stuck in water from the busted balloons. So we had to excavate them.

First thing we’ve learned: when we hammered the top, we couldn’t go any further than getting the fragments of ice. When we turned the ice upside down, we could break everything easily. Why: because part of the ice was above the surface. When we hit the ice, the surface of the table didn’t resist the hit and the ice was breaking. It is easier to break something that doesn’t lie flat on the table. You can show how it works with a stick. Put it on the table and hit with a hammer, nothing happens. When you hold it in hands and hit in the middle you can break it with ease.

We cleared the ice balls from the balloons and what a surprise! There were no colorful oily drops in them. All the oil was on the top of the balloons and it was soft! My kids are to small to explore it any further, they were amused by this fact already. With the bigger kids it would be interesting to explore the reasons.

The holes from the oil were very useful – we filled them with salt. We used lots and lots of salt.

It was very interesting to observe how salt created different labyrinths and patterns in the ice.

To observe the changes even better, we decided to colour the ice balls with the help of droppers.

One of the ice balls lives in our freezer now. My son said that it is so beautiful that he wants to save it forever.

And all the rest were slowly melting, showing us how the salted balls differ from each other and especially from those that were not salted at all.


When we were done with playing, we cleaned all the oily tubs with a dishwashing soap!