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Small Appliances

FirstBuild's Forge may soon make clear ice spheres super easy

Someday the FirstBuild Forge may make clear cocktail ice spheres a snap.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Microfactory FirstBuild is working on another a new ice maker, this time a machine for fancy clear ice.

Called the Forge Clear Ice System and priced at $1,499, it's the most expensive ice maker FirstBuild has dreamed up by far. The $549 Opal nugget ice machine for example, was a hit precisely because of its comparatively low cost of entry.  Triple the price of the Opal, the Forge will set you back as much as a commercial ice maker -- whether clear or nugget.

Home clear ice machines are just as costly. Products from Scotsman and True have prices that are difficult to pin down. Typically you can't buy them directly, and must go through licensed dealers and installers. Rest assured when it's all said and done, you'll likely spend a sum well north of $1,000.

The Opal nugget ice maker, FirstBuild's first ice machine success.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Forge ice that's big and clear

The style of ice the Forge will make is far superior to standard refrigerator cubes. Completely clear and transparent, it's high in density, lacks air bubbles and is low in impurities. They're not cubes either, but rather the Forge creates a pair of ice blocks. The process takes "just hours" to complete too. FirstBuild also claims the machine can store a maximum of six ice blocks at a time.

From there, you use the Forge's heated ice press to form blocks into massive spheres. It's the sort of ice served at luxury cocktail bars, or gourmet restaurants. Clear ice spheres are a pain to make too. You'll either need to buy ice in large blocks, know a friend with an industrial machine ($5,000), or own a large freezer. And don't forget to get a specialty Japanese ice press ($300) as well.

Besides hand-carving, you do have some low-tech alternatives. My favorite are Wintersmith's clear ice molds. Still, they're not cheap plus demand a lot of freezer space.

Will you ever get one?

If the idea of on-demand artisan ice sounds irresistible, you'll have to be patient. FirstBuild plans to take preorders this Fall. Actual ice makers aren't expected to ship until a full year later, in November 2019. I admit, that makes me a little nervous. FirstBuild hasn't released any photos of the Forge machine either, just glossy shots of round ice. I've seen my share of shaky small appliance launches as well. 

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