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Ice Types and Their Various Uses

Ice Types and Their Various Uses

Ice machines are a focal point in any professional kitchen, and now that summer is finally here, you may be looking to invest in a new one! Cold beverages, chilled food, and iced drinks all call for - you guessed it - ice. Commercial ice machines have come a long way since they were first patented in 1851, and commercial ice makers now offer a variety of ice types. Knowing the difference in ice types and their various uses can help you choose the ideal commercial ice maker for your business.


Cube-style ice makers can make your traditional cubed ice. The variety of shapes/sizes are full cube, half cube, alpha cube, gala cube, full dice cube, and half dice cube. The simplicity of cube design offers high liquid displacement, making it relatively cheap. Soft drinks thrive best with half cube, and high-end cocktails work with full cube, as the surface area allows for slower melting times.

Cube machines work by funneling water down into the evaporator - either horizontally or vertically (most common), freezes the cubes, and drops them into the chamber. The time between ice harvests is usually around 5-6 minutes, and then the process is restarted.


While both flake and nugget Commercial ice machines may cost more on the front-end, the payback is in your production! Flake-style machines use a drum with a stainless steel freezing core; Water constantly flows down the drum and freezes, and the ice is shaved off continuously to create flake ice. This means there's zero downtime for harvesting!

Flaked ice is best for packing produce, displaying cooled items, and for snowcones. Because of its high water content, flake ice melts quickly and dilutes drinks, making it a poor choice for beverages. Consider adding flaked ice to frozen drinks if you plan to use it for more than just display and storage purposes!


Known also as pearl, cubed, and crushed, nugget ice is a customer favorite. It’s chewable and absorbs the flavor of the drink while still maintaining a reasonable melt time. Compressed flaked ice comes up the drum with the augur rotation, and an extruder (like a knife) cuts off the ice. A nugget-style ice machine requires less downtime for harvesting, but drinks tend to be diluted quicker as nugget ice melts faster than cubed.


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