Commercial Ice Machine Buying Guide: What Type of Ice Cubes Do I Need?

Picture for What Type of Ice Do I Need blog

Three questions for you: when you go shopping, do you just have a general idea of what you would like or what you need? Do you strongly dislike searching through 250 options to find the right product? When you get to the store and you see all of the options are you quickly overwhelmed? (seriously do I need a self-cleaning, self-timing, computer chip equipped toaster that tells me the density of the bread and the time in china? I just want something that works). If this is you then raise your hand….okay now put it down, I can’t see it anyway. But seriously there are a lot of options out there when you are looking to buy a commercial ice machine. And as frustrating as it is, there is not just one ice machine out there that will work for everyone. However, by answering a few common questions, and explaining some of the options, we will relieve a lot of that frustration and help you become an ice maker guru.

flow chart on how to buy a commercial ice machine

Over the next several blog posts we are going to be following this massive commercial ice machine buying guide flow chart in an effort to take the confusion out of the buying process. Today we will look at the different kinds of ice that are available for you to choose from and highlight some of the most common uses for each type of ice.

So here we go, there are different kinds of ice for you to choose from:

  • “Shaved” or “Flake” ice
  • “Nugget” also known as: “Pearl”, “Cubelets”, “Soft Ice”, or “Sonic Ice”
  • Half Cube ice
  • Full Cube ice
  • “Gourmet” or “Top Hat” ice
picture of flaked ice

Shaved Ice:

Shaved or flake ice is a great way to cool a product down quickly. The large surface area created by shaving off flecks of ice from a large block, allows for the ice to be molded, packed, and shaped around whatever it is that you are trying to cool down. The down side is that it also melts fairly quickly in comparison to cube forms of ice. However, this is a perfect choice for applications where the ice needs to be molded around something (therapeutic applications), quickly cool a product (meat and seafood, blended cocktails), or where the ice will be eaten (it is soft and doesn’t damage teeth like munching on cubes can). Check out the Manitowoc RF-0266A for a great example.

Shaved ice is a great choice for :

  • Produce, Seafood, or Meat Displays
  • Blended cocktails
  • Salad bars
  • Hospitals and Nursing Homes
  • Other therapeutic uses
picture of nugget ice

Nugget Ice:

Nugget ice goes by a lot of names: pearl, cubelets, soft ice, and sonic ice might all be terms that are used to refer to this type of ice. Basically this is shaved ice which has been molded into compact, random sized “nuggets”. Nugget ice is fun to chew, cools drinks quickly without foaming, and does not stick together. The ever-popular GEMU090 serves as a perfect example for a nugget ice machine.

Nugget ice is a great choice for:

  • Carbonated beverages
  • Blended cocktails
  • Salad bars
  • Produce Displays
  • Hospitals and Nursing Homes
  • Other therapeutic uses