1. Obtain ice sample
2. Use a hand saw or chainsaw to cut a slice several centimeters in thickness. The professionals will use a band saw, housed inside a cold room, to cut the ice into the desired slab shape. As long as all work is done at -5 to -10 degrees celsius there is no need to hurry because the ice structure will not change. In the example shown the temperature outside was within this range so, consequently, a cold room was not needed.
3. When the slab is a few centimeters thick - place a smooth flat ice surface, prepared with sand paper, onto the surface of a glass sheet that has been warming on a slide warmer. Application of the ice sample to warm glass will cause the ice face to melt. When removed from the warmer and placed in a freezer or cold air the water will freeze and bind the ice to the glass. A bead of water placed around the edge of the ice will further ensure a secure bond.
4. Next use a sledge microtome to shave the ice to the desired thickness. This is a biological microtome adapted for the colder science. A sharp blade is configured as shown and the glass slide (with ice sample 'glued' to its surface) is placed onto the microtome. Water is again used to cement the glass slide to the metal stageThe 'sledge' is then pushed across the blade to a stop which raises the height of the stage a preset number of fractional millimeters - making the thinning process semi-automatic.
5. Place a polarizer sheet on a light table. Take the thin ice section and place it on the polarizer sheet. Place a second polarizer sheet on top of the ice and observe the patterns. Professionals do all of their laboratory ice work inside a walk in freezer with the temperature set to - 10 degrees celsius.
6. The polarizer sheets allow crystal size and shape to be clearly visualized.
7. Photograph the results - a small metric ruler should be placed along one edge so that the photograph will have scale.