Coloring Ice Lanterns with Less Mess!

Jennifer Shea Hedberg | 23 November, 2022

Kids with colored globes

For YEARS, people have asked about adding food color. Yes, it is a fun project, but I would often try to steer people toward using colored LED lights instead because of the mess that happen. Stained floors, stained clothes, stained outdoor hardscaping—you get my drift.

Well, the other day, I bought some washable markers for my grandson and thought, why can't I use this dye. Its vibrant and washable. I decided to do a few experiments and it worked like a charm. And my nice, new, sky-blue sweatshirt, that I foolishly wore during this process, came out of the wash with all the colored driblets GONE! It was a miracle.

Used Washable Markers as the dye to color ice lanterns


The video I created showing all the experiments with the washable marker dye became long, so I cut the experiments out of the video, but will share that info below.

colored experiments


I added a teaspoon of sugar, salt, vinegar (and nothing) to hot and cold inky water before pouring it into the balloons, and the winner, in my humble opinion was vinegar. Why? I know that it's because adding substances changes the chemical makeup of the water, which affects the amount of colorant that gets trapped in the ice. But, why did vinegar worked best? Well, I will research it, eventually, but until then, maybe there's a scientist out there who stumbles upon this blog and could answer that question for us.

In the meantime, go get some washable markers and share some of your experiment in the comments below and to #wintercraftcommunity

Enjoy the Glow!
-- Jennifer Shea Hedberg, The Ice Wrangler, @icewrangler
@wintercraftcommunity and


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