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Inverted Icicles – Ice Spikes

These Inverted Icicles, also referred to as Ice Spikes, were amazing!

We have been watching them grow over the past several days, and when we heard the temperatures were going to be too warm for them to survive, I had to grab my camera to record what we saw.

Overview - Inverted Icicles/Ice Spikes 01
Overview – Inverted Icicles/Ice Spikes 01

As you can see, these Inverted Icicles/Ice Spikes, were grown on the under-side of a 100-gallon horse troth, that we use in the summer, as a deck pond.

The troth had been up-side down for well over a month, and ‘Mother Nature’ dropping leaves, water and what ever else into the various sections of the horse troth under-side.

During the past couple of days, the highs were in the twenties, and the area was struck with direct sun for 4-5 hours.

At night, the temperatures would easily drop into teens.

There is no roof or over-hang, and the tree branches are too far way to be this consistent.

Overview - Inverted Icicles/Ice Spikes 02
Overview – Inverted Icicles/Ice Spikes 02

From the Overview images, the tall ones are easily over 2 inches “tall”, but there is obvious variations in shape:

Inverted Icicle (Ghost)
Inverted Icicle (Ghost)
Inverted Icicle (Cobra)
Inverted Icicle (Cobra)

I can understand, to a degree, the vertical oriented icicle/spikes, but these?

Inverted Icicles (DoF) Y?
Inverted Icicles (DoF) Y?
Inverted Icicle (Hook or a Check Mark)
Inverted Icicle (Hook or a Check Mark)

I am very baffled in how the angled icicles/spikes are able to grow, and in such perfect form, especially, when one would suspect that they would droop over…

And what about the secondary “buds”?


Since I originally captured these images, I have been searching for an explanation to this phenomenon.

Distilled Water (Man-Made)

From my cited references below, icicles/spikes are generally “grown” in controlled conditions, using “Distilled Water”; a flash freeze process; in ice-cube trays, and seems to be easily repeatable.


On the other hand, and less well reported, are the Natural icicles/spikes that do occur, in bird baths or other small bowl-shaped objects. Some examples can be found on “Got Spikes on Your Ice Cubes?”.

When looking at the captures on this page, note the clarity and translucency of the ice, which would seemingly demonstrate the cold temperatures involved.

Size and Shapes

Refrigerator grown icicles/spikes, it seems, tend to be very thin and around 2 inches in length, and the images provided, easily show that these icicles/spikes are over that mark. [Note to self – Need to work out actual sizes]


As for the impurities issue, using Distilled Water versus Not, images on this page do not seem to show any impurities as the focus of structure formation.

Measuring Age

If I were to guesstimate an ‘age’ for these ice shapes, 3-5 days, based on looking the air bubble paths.

If one looks carefully, there does appear to be a larger repeating bubble ‘chamber’ along the path of the escaping air.

I suggest that the ‘chamber’ is a result of an extreme cold state, corresponding to a chilling/warming cycle, and would normally seem to occur during the day time hours, or when exposed to warming temperatures.

Static Electricity

It seems in a majority of cases, a plastic compound seems to be the main sub-straight.

I have to wonder if there is an influence of some sort of electrical discharge, in the colder, drier environments that effect that shape.

As for the shaping of the check-mark shapes, consider the idea, that the ‘buds’ are a back-follow condition of the primary side.


What are your thoughts?

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By Andrew

A Father, Photographer and Computer Geek living in Chester County (PA).

My Photo Journal of images taken in Chester and Lancaster Counties, including Covered Bridges, Barns, Nature, Fine Art and Events. Images can also be found on and