By Sarah Zhang
To most of us, icicles grow naturally, usually off the roofs of poorly insulated houses. But at Utah-based Ice Castles, man-made icicle farms are growing 15,000 icicles a day. ow else do you think giant ice palaces get built? Welcome to the world of icicle farming.
We first heard of icicle farming from a short and charming story in Modern Farmer that, in turn, pointed to a local Vermont TV segment on odd jobs. Since we’ve always considered ice architecture to be cool, I got in touch to Ryan Davis, co-founder of Ice Castles to find out more.
Davis and co-founder Brent Christensen, the engineering masterminds behind ice palaces from the Mall of America to Vermont, started their company about five years ago. The castles are made entirely of ice, but in the beginning, they all begin as water along an undulating metal tube. This is the ice rack where icicles are grown overnight. As described in US Patent 8511042 B2 (“Methods for constructing ice structures,” awarded to a Brent Christensen), water slowly drips down from the top of the plank forming icicles. Easy. Depending on temperature and water flow, an icicle can grown as long as 3 feet overnight.
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