What’s Ice Good For?


That’s a question I ask myself every winter, especially when I have to scrape it off my windshield – again. Or on snowy days when I slide past another Stop sign downtown or at the bottom of another hill out in the country.
Snow and ice can certainly do create an amazingly beautiful array of sparkling, crystal gems across our winter wonderland. But because snow and ice can also get tiresome sometimes, too, I wondered if I could find any new uses for the wintry stuff.
Here are a few interesting ones I found:
1. The Norsk Ismusikkfestivall, the Norwegian Ice Music Festival. Many real musical instruments at the annual festival are made out of ice! Nordic sculptors use ice to create instruments from ice trumpets, to ice guitars and ice cellos. They do sound a bit different from “normal” instruments, especially when they start to melt, but it is said they do make really cool music.
2. On a different note, did you know that ice can do a really great job cleaning out your garbage disposal? Just dispose of an ice tray’s worth and see for yourself.
3. Ice also makes a great “Grease skimmer” for hot soups and gravies. Fill a metal ladle with ice and slide it across the surface of the greasy liquid. The grease will immediately harden onto your ladle in an easy-to-remove lump.
Ice, however, is really only water standing at attention! Ice is strangest of all on the planets Uranus and Neptune hiding far out on the edge of our Solar System. Out there, ice is both solid and liquid at the same time, and it conducts electricity better than a copper wire. Who knew?
Scientists actually know of 20 different kinds of ice. Fortunately, none have the fictional and deadly ocean-freezing ability of the “Ice-nine” dreamt up by Kurt Vonnegut in his book, Cat’s Cradle.
So, what is ice really good for after all? I prefer its less exotic uses, like skating on it, fishing through it, and chilling a tall, sweet glass of lemonade with piles of ice cubes in it on a hot summer’s day. That’s what I think ice is for.
This week, your Jamestown Gazette is here to say ice is so special, it deserves a festival of its own, and Norway is not the only place where that happens. Ski on up to Mayville and see for yourself. The annual Winterfest is back.
And maybe best of all, ice is a dandy building material when it can be chain-sawed out of the frozen lake in 2-foot by 4-foot glassy blocks. Cold weather permitting, the traditional and beautifully crafted, sculpted and rainbow-color-lighted, crystalline Mayville Ice Castle will return to Chautauqua Lake this year on Friday, February 15 through Tuesday, February 17.
So, no matter whether you’re a winter-hating grinch or a winter-loving snow bunny, let this year’s Mayville ICE (Ice Castle Extravaganza) Festival, give you some new, fun and fascinating ides to answer, “What is ice really for?”

Enjoy the really cool show, and don’t forget your Jamestown Gazette so you can really enjoy the read, too.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.