What Are The Different Types Of Commercial Ice Machine?
Ice Styles / Ice Machine Configurations
All commercial ice machines create ice in basically the same way. However, different types of ice are made differently.
There are 3 basic types of ice, with some variation on those ice styles: Cube Ice, Flake Ice, and Nugget-style Ice.
When choosing your ice machine, consider what style of ice you are looking for. Different types of ice are more suitable for specific applications.
Cube Ice is made by running water over a freezing evaporator plate which is typically divide up into a grid. All of the purest water will freeze first and begin to form the ice. As the water is pumped back up and over the plate, the ice begins to grow until it is the appropriate cube size and is released from the evaporator plate.
Cube ice is popular at sit down and fast food restaurants, hotels, and convenience stores, since it is typically a harder, long-lasting ice, ideal for cooling beverages.
Finally, most of the major ice machine manufacturers have an ice machine that produces a cylindrical, crystal clear ice shape. These clear "cubes" are round like little top hats or small shot glasses and are very elegant. These Gourmet Cubes are often found in high-end alcoholic beverages at sophisticated establishments.
Flake Ice is made in an entirely different way than cube ice. Most manufacturers have their own patented auger-type evaporator cylinders. Water is sprayed on the inner surface of the cylinder and begins to freeze into a thin layer. A spinning auger chops the thin ice into small flakes. The rotating auger blades force the loose ice flakes up to the top of the cylinder and out, where it falls over the edges of the auger like snow.
The soft tiny flakes are the ice easy to pack and shape. Therefore, flake ice is often chosen by supermarkets to display fresh seafood and meats without damaging the food items. Restaurants with salad bars also find flake ice most suitable to keep plates and bowls of salad ingredients cool.
Hospitals and other health care facilities also commonly use flakers since the flake ice is soft and melts quickly, so patients can be hydrated without worrying about choking on ice. Flake ice is also great for shaping and packing around injured extremities, so sports facilities and rehab facilities also rely on flake ice.
Nugget Ice is a very popular form of ice. It is also called Cubelet ice, Chewblet ice®, and Pearl Ice®. A popular national restaurant chain has also lent its very "sound" name to the nugget ice style. Nugget ice is small, round, irregularly-shaped balls of ice about the size of a child's marble.
Nugget ice is essentially flake ice that has been created in the auger cylinder and then when it reaches the top of the cylinder, it is forced out through extruders that tightly compress the flake ice into the nugget shapes and allow it to fall as small balls or clumps.
Nugget ice is therefore soft and chewable and many people crave nugget ice just for these features. Nugget ice also has the ability to retain liquid in the tiny spaces between the compressed flakes, meaning that when the nugget ice is chewed, it will have the flavor of whatever beverage it was recently cooling.
Many foodservice establishments enjoy serving this ice as well as it cools drinks rapidly and has a very high liquid displacement which means less liquid per glass. It is great for beverage dispensers and ideal for healthcare facility applications.