The Types of Ice That Ice Makers Produce
We humans have always had complex needs and wants and technology allows us to be so. Modern machines present us with possibilities, and when we see what we like, we buy them. It works the other way around too. When humans have needs that are not met by the technology of that time, people go back to the drawing board and produce some phenomenal creations. Ice machines are some such creations.
Ice has always existed naturally, but not until Frederic Tudor introduced the world to the idea of a refreshing ice cold drink in the early 1800s, did the demand for artificially produced ice begin to exist. Fast forward to the present, where we take ice for granted, but could never live without it. It has gone through so many stages of development, and modern ice making machines allow man to ‘play God’ by harnessing simple science to satisfy his wants. These wants also tend to diversify with time, creating a great demand for not only better machines but machines that produce better quality ice.
In this article, we are going to take a closer look at the different types of ice currently available on the market, and discover what they are best suited for.
Commercial or machine produced ice can be divided into a number of different categories, but before we go into detail about the types, we will divide them into 4 broad groups:
It should come as no surprise that shape plays a great role in people’s minds when they are looking for an ice maker to best fit their needs. Why? This is because the shape of the ice can cause it to melt faster or slower. Scientifically speaking, ice cubes with a greater surface area melt faster and tend to dilute drinks. Most people want ice that lasts longer. Here are a few popular shapes of ice cubes:
Cube shaped: sometimes referred to as the ‘commoner’s ice’, this is the most common and traditional shape of ice the world over, and perhaps the most popular as well. It is the most regularly served ice in settings like restaurants, cafes, hotels, and fast food stores, the reason being that it cools drinks relatively fast and to a lower temperature than some other types of ice cubes.
Usually, cube-shaped ice is relatively even on all sides, but some ice machine companies like Ice-o-Matic and Manitowok even produce a half cube that fills glasses more and is great for a quick drink on the go.
Spheres: The spherical ice melts at a slower rate because it has a less exposed surface area in comparison to its volume. Spherical ice is especially popular with bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts because these cubes cool the drinks quickly, but melt slowly and thus dilute the drinks less.
Crescent or half-moon shaped: these are a great choice as you can store more ice in your ice bucket, and have more ice in your drink with this type of shape. It is ideal for drinks that are not mixed, and they melt slower and tend to be a lot harder than other types. Hoshizaki and U-line machines specialize in this shape of ice.
Gourmet/ Top hat-shaped: as the name implies, these are cylindrically shaped cubes that are typically used in high-end restaurants and bars, as the machines that produce them tend to be on the pricier side and are usually made for clientele with more discerning palates. Gourmet cubes are odorless, slow melting and clear, so less of this ice is needed to cool your drink. The Manitowoc, Ice-O-Matic, Hoshizaki and Scotsman brands all produce some form of this ice.
Flaked: these ice chips are most commonly used in fresh food and seafood displays because it is easy to pack and helps the food maintain hydration. They are now also gaining popularity because they can be mixed in slushies, fruit shakes, and other blended drinks. This ice takes on the flavor of the drink it’s in, and rapidly cools it. It is a common sight in most health institutions because it is considered soft and easily chewable ice. All popular brands of icemakers produce this variety of ice.
Nugget shaped ice (Sonic Ice): this ice is generally a crowd pleaser, as these cubes are chewable, and are sold in many restaurants and pubs. They work well with soft drinks. The nuggets are not likely to stick together and these cubes tend to be drier so they keep the flavor of the drink well and don’t melt as fast as other kinds of ice. Scotsman ice machines are the clear leaders in the production of quality nugget ice.
So, does size matter when it comes to cubes? Absolutely! Bigger cubes have less exposed surface area, and therefore melt less and slower. Smaller cubes have more surface area, so melt faster, cool faster and more of these cubes can be fitted into a single glass. It’s just a question of preference really…
You may have noticed that most homemade ice is cloudy. Some ice machines produce ice that is clear, and this is done by heating, vaporizing and cooling the water, and then freezing it into ice layer by layer. Even though clear ice comes at a price, the ice makes drinks great to look at. The cubes are slow melting because they don’t have any trapped impurities, and are the desired choice of restaurant and business owners in many parts of the globe.
Texture and Hardness
Ice cubes serve many different purposes, and because of this, they come in many different densities. Hard ice is usually preferred for drinks and cocktails as they melt slower, while softer ice like nugget ice is preferred for soft drinks and shakes. Flaked ice is the softest ice produced by these machines, and are used for cold storage and in health institutions because of its soft texture.