Ice cubes might be among the easiest things in the world to make, but the way State College native Joseph Myers does it took three years, about 100 prototypes and a number of physics lessons.
That’s because it’s not just any ice — it comes from Ice Made Clear, a device small enough for the home freezer that makes crystal clear ice cubes that melt slower, impress your friends and might even taste better.
In November, Myers started a Kickstarter with a goal of $50,000 to help get the product on the market. The online campaign reached 25 percent of its goal the first day, and when it ended late last week, 713 backers pledged more than $80,000. For Myers, the message is as clear as the ice that comes out of his product: There’s support for his creation.
“I thought that with a lot of hard work we could meet the goal, but I didn’t think we’d get significantly beyond that, and that’s been really nice,” Myers said.
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While Ice Made Clear is his first major foray into the entrepreneurial world, Myers said he was always tinkering in his garage as a kid growing up in State College.
“Inventing things has been something that I’ve always done my whole life,” he said.
As a Penn State graduate who studied film and later worked in the College of Communications and public broadcasting, Myers translated an inventive spirit into a career in filmmaking. He founded Storyshop Production Company four years ago and now lives in Wilmington, Delaware.
Myers, a partner in Boalsburg’s Nittany Mountain Distillery, said he’s long had an interest in craft cocktails but doesn’t remember exactly how the idea for Ice Made Clear was planted.
“I somehow got fascinated by this idea of making ice clear,” he said.
It’s not a new idea — clear cubes are found in glasses in high-end cocktail bars — but Myers said what’s missing from the market is an affordable, easy-to-use ice maker for the home.
“I knew the overriding goal was to make it compact and easy to use,” he said.
There’s a few ways to make clear ice, but Myers focused on a tried and true method: Mother Nature’s directional freezing process. Ice Made Clear is a two-piece unit that has a controlled temperature gradient and patent-pending pressure equalization system. As the ice freezes from the top, it pushes the dissolved gas that creates cloudiness down and out of the ice. Myers calls it a “deceptively simple” design, one that took about 100 prototypes from a 3-D printer to perfect.
With two trays, the device can make 2-inch cubes and 1.25-inch jumbo cubes for tall glasses.
During the design process, Myers consulted with friends and colleagues in the State College community, including Penn State faculty.
“It’s been a group effort,” he said.
With the Kickstarter over and about a year of market research behind him, Myers said he knows who the product backers are at this point: the aficionados, those who enjoy high-end scotch and whiskey. Eventually, he’d like to be able to bring the cost down and make Ice Made Clear even more accessible to consumers.
Myers has begun talking to manufacturers, some of which are located in the State College area. He hopes to begin the manufacturing process in the spring and start deliveries by summer 2018.
For more information, visit www.icemadeclear.com.