Guide to Ice Cube Shapes and Sizes

There is much more to ice than just frozen water. You could actually fill out a standalone menu just featuring various types of ice. They come in various shapes and sizes, ranging from nuggets and flakes to classic cubes.

Though it might seem the only distinction between ice cube shapes is how they appear, there’s actually quite a bit of science involved. Different shapes melt at different speeds, making it possible to customize the cooling effect down to a T.

People often discuss their favorite ice cube shape and try to find the universally best one. However, the answer lies in the purpose for which the ice is to be used. Each type of ice has its own set of features and characteristics and each serves a different purpose. Let us dive into a bowl of different types of ice and see what they have to offer.

Nugget Ice

As the name suggests, this ice is in the form of small nuggets or pellets. It is also known as Sonic Ice, named after the famous fast-food restaurant. This ice is quite popular among avid ice lovers and the reasons are numerous.

It not only cools drinks faster, but it is also the chewiest ice available and is light and airy. The air trapped inside is what makes these ice cubes chewy. Since it is reduced to just small pellets, less surface area is exposed to your drink, which slows down the melting process.

Nugget ice tends to go well with drinks such as Juleps, Pina Coladas, lemonade, and fizzy beverages. You can make your nugget ice at home by freezing layers of sparkling water in an ice tray, and then smashing them into smaller pieces when frozen. However, this would not give you the Sonic quality of the ice. Fortunately, there are nugget ice makers available in the market, which can quench your nugget ice cravings.

Clear Ice

Clear ice is a see-through ice that has no impurities. These are clear and clean and widely used in bars and restaurants with almost any drink. The absence of air bubbles causes clear ice to melt slowly and it tastes great too since it is pure. It does not steal the flavor of your drink and keeps it cool for longer periods.

You can use a clear ice maker to get the perfect clear ice. However, if you want to save up on the expenses, you can also make it at home. All you need is a small cooler with a removable lid, a serrated knife (or a bread knife), and a hammer. You can use any water to fill up the cooler (even tap water) and then let it freeze for about 24 hours.

After that, put the cooler upside down and let the ice block out. Allow the excess water to drain out. Now with the serrated knife, remove the top half of the block and drain the water trapped in between. You would be left with a block of clear ice, which you can then smash into pieces size using the hammer.

Crescent Ice

The problem with traditional ice cubes is that the drink tends to splash out of the glass while being poured. As a solution to this, Hoshizaki created the crescent ice. True to its name, this ice is in the shape of a half-moon. Due to its slender shape, more ice could be accommodated inside a glass, thereby displacing more of the drink. This makes the glass look full when in fact it is not, which reduces the splash.

This ice is mostly used in bars, pubs, and commercial eateries. However, you could also make it at home with the crescent cube ice maker. However, that is a commercial-grade tool and might not be economically feasible for home usage. Although some people overcompensate with pouring their drink and still manage to splash it out of the glass, these cubes have a pleasing appearance and make your drink look classy.

Gourmet Ice

Also known as circle ice or bullet ice, the gourmet ice has a unique octagonal shape (sometimes cylindrical) and is mostly used in high-end restaurants and fine dining establishments. It melts slowly, keeping your drink cool for a longer period. Also, it melts evenly and doesn’t create water droplets that trickle down its surface.

Thus, this clear ice is quite presentable and goes well with old classic drinks and whiskeys and serving drinks “on the rocks”. Due to its alluring appearance, gourmet ice is mostly used for events, parties, and weddings.

Another variant of the gourmet ice is the sphere-shaped ice. It is similar to a regular ice cube but has a slower melting rate. It can occupy sufficient space in a glass and make it look full. It is also used as a garnish, owing to its aesthetic appearance.

Regular Cube

These are the regular small cubes of ice that we have been using since the advent of time. They go well with all kinds of drinks and cold beverages. They are easy to make in any fridge and can be stacked for a party. Just pour in water in regular ice molds and subject it to freezing. Many regular freezers have two options — regular cubes and crushed ice.

Half cubes are another variant of the regular ice cube, wherein the full cube is broken into half for accommodating the smaller glasses. Half cube goes down well with people who prefer less ice in their drinks.

Crushed ice goes well with slushy drinks and is ideal for bagging purposes. It is also widely used for medical purposes. If you do not have the “crushed ice” option, you could just place the regular cubes in a cloth bag and crush them into shards.

In whatever size and shape, ice fits almost any drink and we can’t imagine a world without it. An ideally chosen ice type can enhance the flavor and presentation of your drink but also help you avoid the embarrassment of serving lukewarm drinks. Thus, knowing your ice is crucial for meeting your drink preferences and creating a cool party. If you’re looking for commercial ice makers  be sure to check out our Commercial Ice Maker Section!

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