Abstract An innovative sensor to measure the spatial variation of ice-electrical properties has been designed and a prototype constructed. The sensor is an intimate sensor; it must be close or preferably in contact with the ice. The device is able to distinguish the electrical properties of the ice sheet as a function of depth into the ice. The resulting profile of properties can be used for many purposes ranging from simple thickness estimates to a prediction of the volume fraction of water as a function of depth. This paper presents a brief description of the instrument and the immediate application of the device, non-destructive characterization of ethylene glycol/aliphatic detergent/sugar (EGADS) model ice, as well as future research directions. The dependence of the material properties of ice on the water-volume fraction has previously been demonstrated for sea ice. The depth variation of the electrical properties provides a characteristic signature related to water-volume fraction that may be used to identify full-thickness ice properties. The profile can also supply information on the ice at local contact points in ice-structure interactions. Opportunities for extending the use of the device to other applications for ice or other insulating materials are outlined. The possibilities of real-time ice-accretion monitoring and quality control in the manufacturing of polymer materials are of great interest.