Types of Ice and Their Sizes

You know that you need ice when you’re preparing and serving drinks. But have you considered exactly which types of ice you should be using? We’ll talk you through different types of ice and the ice machines that can make them. Most models of commercial ice machine will only make one type of ice. So it’s important to consider your needs before purchasing. 

Ice types compared

There are so many different types of ice. You can broadly divide them into the following categories:

Crushed or flake ice
Nugget ice
Cubed and shaped ice

They’re all great, but they have vastly different uses. 

Crushed or flake ice

Crushed and flake ice – two different names for the same thing – are generally made by crushing ice cubes. You can make crushed ice by smashing cubes with a mallet or rolling pin. But if you need large quantities, an ice machine will be much easier!
It has a high water content, which means that it melts faster than cubed ice. It’s best used in cocktails and other drinks that can be diluted without ruining the taste.
Flake and crushed ice also have plenty of non-beverage uses. You might use it to chill food or in a medical setting. 

Nugget ice

Nugget ice is made from flaked ice that’s been compacted together. Flaked ice can also be compacted into cubelets or other shapes. This ice is chewable, because each nugget has plenty of air inside it. Nugget ice is also great for adding to drinks. It can be more evenly distributed than cubed ice, and stays intact longer than traditional ice cubes. There’s also good news if you like eating the pieces of ice: nugget ice takes on the taste of your drink!

Cubed and shaped ice

Ice cubes are one of the most popular types of ice. If you’re serving a drink “on the rocks”, you’ll need cubes. 
Cubes are the quickest types of ice for machines to produce. They’re most likely to be seen in establishments that use a lot of ice. 
But did you know that there are also many different types of ice cubes?

Full-dice: your traditional ice cubes. 
Half-dice: the traditional ice cube, but halved! 
Bullet shaped ice: shaped like a bullet, this type of ice chills drinks especially quickly.
Crescent cubes: these cubes are shaped like a moon, and melt extra slowly.

Not only can you get an exciting range of shaped ice, but it’s also important to consider ice cube sizes. Different machines make cubes that range from small, medium and large, all the way up to giant cubes. Some large cubes can be as heavy as 60g!

Smaller cubes and shapes are also softer. If you need to blend your cubes into smoothies or other drinks, this might be a consideration for you. Large cubes will melt more slowly than smaller ones, so they won’t dilute your drinks as quickly. You should use large ice cubes in drinks like spirits or cocktails that aren’t intended to be diluted.

Before you choose an ice maker, there are a few things to consider.

Where will you store your ice maker? This will affect the type and size of machine that you buy – you might want an undercounter or countertop machine, for example.
How much ice do you need? Some commercial ice machines can make huge quantities of ice in a day, whereas others will produce a much smaller amount.
What type of ice do you want to make? As we mentioned before, most machines will only produce one type, shape and size of ice. So make sure that you’re happy with your choice, as you’d need a new ice maker to change the ice output. 

There are plenty of types of ice maker out there, so there’s guaranteed to be one that produces the ice that you need.

Full-dice ice machines

full dice ice maker

Full-dice ice machines will produce traditional ice cubes. They’re quick to produce, work well in most drinks and are available in a variety of sizes.

Half-dice ice machines

half dice ice maker

If you need ice that’s smaller than full-dice, half-dice ice machines are the way to go. Half-dice ice is produced quickly, melts faster and is softer than larger cubes.

Half-dice ice is great in blended smoothies, carbonated soft drinks and other beverages that can be diluted

Nugget ice machines

nugget ice maker

These machines are useful if you want ice for chewing, or if you make drinks that need nugget ice. They’re one of the quickest kinds of ice to produce, and often take on the flavor of your drink. Nugget ice machines can be useful if you’re making juleps and slushy cocktails and sugary drinks like margaritas.

Flake ice makers

flake ice maker

Flake ice machines are useful in food and drink establishments, but can also be needed in medical and laboratory settings. Flake and crushed ice can be used to chill most things, as it can be packed tightly around anything. It’s often used to keep food cooled, as well as drinks.

Flake ice is ideal in slushies and snow cones, tiki drinks and some other cocktails

Cube ice machines

There is a huge range of cube ice machines, producing ice cubes of varying sizes. Traditional ice cubes can be used pretty much anywhere!

Bullet shaped ice makers

Bullet ice is often hollow, so it melts quickly but doesn’t dilute drinks as much as cubes. This makes it ideal for drinks that need to be chilled quickly. Bullet ice is usually cloudy or white, so consider if it will look right in your drinks. If you’re a more casual foodservice or drinks establishment, this could be right for you.

Bullet ice works wonderfully in carbonated drinks and mixed drinks

Crescent cubes ice makers

Crescent ice makers are excellent if you want ice that stays solid for longer than a traditional average-sized cube. The ice produced is extra hard, which means it can’t easily be blended into smoothies, but it’s great for keeping drinks undiluted – and the shape means that it causes less splashing as you pour!

Cubelet ice makers

Cubelet ice is similar to flake and nugget ice, but it’s usually much harder and melts more slowly. It can absorb extra liquid, which means it’ll take on the flavor of your drink – ideal for people who might want to chew the ice after the drink!

Regular size cubes ice makers

Remember that we talked about different ice cube sizes? If you don’t need extra-large cubes, this is probably the size that you’ll choose. Regular sized ice cubes will work in most drinks.

Oversized cubes ice makers

If you need large ice cubes, this is the way to go. Oversized cubes melt slowly, so these are great if you don’t want to overly dilute a drink. In many cases, the ice will still be frozen after you’ve finished drinking! Oversized cubes take a little longer to make, but they’re worth it!

Oversized cubes are ideal for drinks served in low glasses – it’s a classic look. Whiskey and other spirits or cocktails that shouldn’t be diluted. Now that you’ve got all the information you need about types of ice, why not check out our ice machines? With a range of types of ice makers, there’s sure to be something to meet your needs!

Posted by Damon Shrauner on 
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