The simplest way to define an ice lantern is a "shell of ice with a candle inside." The shell protects a flame from the elements so that the ice lantern can act as a light source and/or decoration. A poet would say that an ice lantern is an ephemeral gift of nature! A scientist would say that an ice lantern is a single source of combusting gas in an ascending stream protected by an enclosure of water, which has been frozen or reduced to the solid state by cold temperature. Actually, both definitions are apt, as ice lanterns are, indeed, the beautiful outcome of a simple science experiment.
Imagine a tray of ice cubes taken out too soon. What do you find? Crusts of ice with water inside. Release the water, and voilà, miniature ice lanterns. So, now the trick is to do the same thing, but on a much larger scale . . .”
— Jennifer Shea Hedberg