Weekend fun: Make your own "Slushy Magic" at home!
Here's a fun and free idea if you have kids who like this sort of thing (or for yourself, if you just like slushies!)
My children have become enamored with the Slushy Magic commercial currently airing. If you haven't seen the commercial, Slushy Magic is a plastic tumbler with a lid and three "magic" ice cubes. Put the cubes in the tumbler, pour in your favorite drink, put the lid on and shake. Somewhere between one to five minutes later, the liquid turns into a delicious slushie!
You can see how this would appeal to kids. Heck, it appealed to me! But at the TV price of $29.98 for two plastic cups and six plastic ice cubes, spending that kind of money definitely did not appeal to me. So, we set out to make our own Slushy Magics at home.
To recreate the Slushy Magic effect, it's important to understand how it works. Each cup comes with three plastic ice cubes filled with salt water. Salt water freezes at a lower temperature than plain water does. Once it's frozen, anything it comes in contact with will also freeze rapidly. (Anyone who's ever made ice cream in a bag, another fun summer activity, has seen the effects of salt and ice working together!)
So, here's what you'll need:
- Ziploc-type sandwich bags
- Table salt and water
- A cup with a lid
- A beverage with sugar in it (diet or sugar-free beverages won't crystallize)
The night before you want to make slushies, prepare the "ice cube" bags. Put one half-cup of water in each bag, along with one teaspoon of table salt. Make sure the measurements are exact -- too much salt will lower the solution's freeze point even more, and the mixture will not freeze solid in your freezer. (I arrived on this ratio after several attempts to get it right. Again, add too much salt, and you'll have a bag of water that never freezes in a household freezer.)
Roll the water bag up with the water at the bottom so that it freezes in a skinny shape that will fit inside the cup you chose. Lay it in the freezer and let it freeze. (If you have a bag sealer which can hot-seal a bag on four sides, you could make your own salt water pouches instead of using sandwich bags.)
The next day, once the bag has frozen solid, grab your favorite beverage and your cup. Put the ice bag inside the cup and pour the beverage into the cup. Don't fill it all the way -- leave some room so that you can shake it up.
Push the bag down, put the lid on and shake, shake, shake! If your cup's lid has a hole in it, cover this with your finger, or you'll have a big mess.
After about two minutes, peek inside and see what's happening:
After four minutes, this is what we had after taking the ice bag out:
This was a lot of fun for the kids! After a few attempts this week, we learned that some beverages work better than others too. On this day, one of my sons made his with Welch's Essentials grape juice cocktail, while the other used Old Orchard 100% apple juice. The Welch's Essentials froze into a slush much faster -- probably because it's water, sugar and juice. The more sugar in the mix, the faster the liquid will crystalize. We found that the Old Orchard apple juice did not freeze to the same consistency as the Welch's did.
On our second attempt, we froze and put two ice bags in a cup with apple juice, and that worked a lot better to freeze it into slush. Of course, the more ice you put in the cup, the less room for juice there is... but the less juice you put in the cup, the faster the liquid turns to slush. If you look at the as-seen-on-TV Slushy Magic, they use a 10-ounce cup... but the ice cubes' volume takes up about seven ounces. If you remove the cubes, the actual volume of slush in the cup is only about three ounces.
In doing some more research while writing this post, I saw that Toys R Us sells Slushy Magic for $14.99, with pretty mixed reviews. Many people noted that the Slushy Magic cups have holes in the lids too, and if you don't cover them while shaking, you have a mess. Others complain that the ice cubes' volume takes up more than half the cup. (They have to, or the freezing effect won't take place.) But basically, it's a cup, a lid, and salt water... and now you know how to duplicate the effect at home for next to nothing!