[posted March 22, 2012]
At a very early age, we learn the simplest way in which ice is formed. Keep water at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below for an extended period of time and ta-da, we have ice! Easy, right? Well we've come a long way since those days and the ice making industry has changed to incorporate a variety of ice styles all with different strengths and purposes. Having a knowledge and background on each type of ice is essential for finding the ice that best suits your needs.
Commonly, ice serves more than the purpose of simply keeping drinks cold. Sometimes, you want your ice to look elegant as well. The cylindrical style of ice, called gourmet ice, also referred to as top-hat or clear ice depending on the machine's manufacturer, is created by eliminating air completely from the cube during the freezing process. Water is typically sprayed up into an inverted cylindrical compartment on the evaporator and the pure water freezes on contact. Water containing impurities or sediment won't freeze instantly, so it falls from the compartment. Slowly, an ice cube is formed as layer upon frozen layer grows. This ice form tends to last the longest as it is pure water, without any filler. It can make an elegant event even more glamorous with its appearance in more upscale facilities. This ice perfectly complements a glass of fine scotch or other fine spirit very well, cooling the drink effectively without watering down and depleting flavors.
Full cubes tend to last a long time as well, and are the most traditional style that comes to mind when we think of the term ‘ice cubes’. Their half-brother is known as the small dice cube, or half dice cube depending on the producer. These cubes tend to be half the size of the full cubes with the ability to nestle more snugly into glasses of consumers thus allowing for less liquid. They also dispense more easily from ice dispensers due to their smaller size.
Crescent ice is readily available from Hoshizaki and U-Line and performs well by resisting the tendency to clump up and freeze together. This ability makes crescent ice ideal for bars and restaurants. It is easily scooped and will last for a good amount of time at room temperature. It tends to cool drinks quickly and is perfect for chilling a mixed drink that will not water down too quickly.
Flake ice can be seen more readily at your local supermarket, usually seen in produce or seafood displays as its malleability makes it easy to shape and will keep products cool when they need to be. This ice is very grainy and may appear a bit dusty as well. Due to its size and its ability to conform to shapes and contours, flake ice may be used to treat sprains and injuries in the sports and medical world as well.Nugget ice, also called cubelet or chewblet ice is smaller and resembles hail, usually about the size of a kernel of corn. It can vary in shape and size and is chewable and easily blended. This ice also conforms to the shape of a glass, cooling liquid quickly and ensuring a cool beverage at all times. Luckily, with so many options from which to choose, the Ice Machine Experts at Ice Machines Plus are available to guide you through the ins and outs of the ice world. Every one of your needs can and will be catered to and you will find that - now that you've doubled your knowledge - your ice will be twice as nice.