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Section 1. What Is A Commercial Ice Machine?

Some Ice Machine Basics


A Commercial Ice Machine is a piece of foodservice equipment that produces ice for a foodservice environment including but not limited to restaurants, cafeterias, hotels and motels, medical and healthcare facilities, supermarkets and convenience stores.

Commercial Ice Machines make ice with water from an external source and an internal freezing mechanism. They are designed to produce medium to large amounts of food-grade quality ice each day and are able to withstand the wear and tear of constant use and higher temperatures such as those found in a commercial kitchen. Commercial ice machine components that come into direct contact with water and ice must meet food-safety standards.

Commercial ice machines are typically manufactured from durable materials such as stainless steel, galvanized steel, aluminum, and heavy duty plastics and insulation.

A Residential Ice Machine is NOT typically commercial grade. Residential units are not as heavy-duty as commercial units. While residential ice machines will be food-safe, they are not typically built to withstand the rigors of daily use in a commercial foodservice environment. Residential units also do not produce large volumes of ice each day like the commercial ice machine will.

Commercial Ice Making 101


Water comes in from an exterior supply line and is fed by a pump onto a refrigerated metal surface. The water freezes one thin layer at a time, eliminating gases and microscopic bubbles that can make ice appear cloudy-white, like in your ice cube tray in your home freezer. The cubes or other ice shapes grow layer by layer as more water is added to the freezing surface.

When the ice is fully formed, it is either released or forced from the freezing surface (often called harvesting). Once loose, the ice can fall into a collection bin for storage or immediate dispensing. Then the ice making process begins again.

Many ice making systems include either an internal physical switch, photo-optic sensor or temperature sensor that will prevent the ice machine from producing more ice than the collection bin can hold.

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