Nuggets, Flakes and Cubes – Which Ice Cools the Best?
July 28, 2016 | by Barbara Portnoy
It’s July in Baltimore and the temperature is climbing. When I get into the car midday the only comforting image that comes to mind is ICE! This is the time of year for iced drinks, sno-cones and cube filled coolers so after a recent drive, I decided to do some research on ice cubes and ice makers. I was surprised to find out that there are at least 6 different shapes of ice; each shape produced in a unique way for a unique purpose.
Nuggets: soft and chewy
If you’re an ice chewer, this is your favorite. Nugget ice, also called “sonic ice” is textured, has less of a tendency to stick together and is the best choice for carbonated and blended drinks. You’ll also find nugget ice around salad bars and in specialty cocktails. This is the type of stand-alone icemaker that we specify most frequently for corporate lunchrooms and public food service areas.
Flakes: snow ice
Flake ice is the main ingredient in snow cones. Commonly used in rehab facilities for ice baths and ice bags, it has a lot of surface area and melts quickly. This type of ice is made with a higher water content than nuggets or cubes and uses less energy than either during production. The machines that make flake ice are typically larger than nugget makers.
Full Cubes: the classic
Not much description is required here. Most of us have filled ice cube trays at some point in our lives although many of us now own refrigerators with automatic ice makers (which actually make crescent ice). Cubes are slower to melt than other shapes but unfortunately, commercial cube type ice makers consume up to 45% more water and up to 25% more electricity than a comparably sized flake or nugget machine.
Half cubes: shaped like a butter pat
These cubes are much like the full cube. They are preferred by the food industry because they’re easy to handle, dispense more easily and blend well into beverages. Typically you’ll find them in the beverage counters in fast food restaurants and small convenience stores.
This ice gets its name from its half-moon shape. Crescent ice allows liquid to flow easily over its form and the ice doesn’t pack together. When you use crescent ice you’ll have less splash and more storage space in your ice bins. It also conforms to the shape of your mouth. Most refrigerators with automatic ice makers make crescent ice
Gourmet: specialty shapes
Gourmet ice typically has a hollow form through the center and is crystal clear. It creates more cooling surface so that your beverages chill faster with less dilution. It is the choice of banquet services, upscale restaurants, and special occasion planners.
In addition to water based ice, there are also (granite) whiskey stones and (metal) white wine “pearls”, which cool beverages without any adding water to your drink. They all serve the same main purpose-but do their job in many different ways. So the next time you reach for drink or fill an ice bag, make a good choice. Most of all, stay cool!