The Many Types of Ice: A Complete Guide

types of ice

Ice is so nice you can say that twice. Icemakers became widely available during the 1960s. Though they have only been around for 60 years, you can find ice makers in many different businesses.

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One reason why ice makers are so versatile is the different types of ice. When you are trying to find the right ice maker for your business, you need to figure out the right ice types.

What are the different shapes and sizes for ice? What are the limitations of each type? What are the different businesses that can make use of each type?

Answer these questions and you can use the nicest ice in no time. Here is your quick guide.

Half Cubes

Half cubes are the smallest ice cube type. They are one of the most common ice types, so much so that they are sometimes called “regular cubes.”

They melt quickly, so they can cool down hot beverages like tea. They also break down in a blender, making them ideal for smoothies and frozen cocktails.

Full Cubes

Full cubes are another common type you will find in an ice maker. They are bigger than half cubes, though they tend to be less than one inch long. If you have seen bagged ice in a grocery store, you have probably seen full cubes.

Their larger size means that they melt slower. They will not water hot drinks down too quickly, though a very hot beverage may remain difficult to drink for some time.

This makes them more ideal for keeping food and pieces of equipment cool. You can also put some full cubes in a bag and cool someone’s body down with them.

Nugget Cubes

Nugget cubes are small cubes shaped like cylinders. The cubes have many little pores in them. The pores let them absorb the flavors of a drink, enhancing the experience of a cocktail or soda.

The pores also make them very easy to chew. If someone wants to chew on ice, you should give them nugget cubes. They do tend to melt quickly, so they are not ideal for keeping things cold.

You may have heard of “Chewblets” or “pearl ice.” These are alternate names for nugget cubes.

You can find many different nugget ice makers. You can buy a commercial ice maker that dispenses water in addition to ice, which is good if you have limited space.

Flake Ice

Flake ice resembles very small shards or shavings. They are fragile, breaking into dust with a little bit of pressure.

This means that flake ice is used only in a few settings. Very few restaurants or food service companies use flake ice in their operations.

If you have been to a grocery store, you may have seen flake ice in display cases. Most stores and markets use it to keep fish and meat cool.

You can also use flake ice in medical compresses. You can pack some flakes into a bag or cloth and place them over an injured area. The flakes can slide around, allowing the bag or cloth to wrap around an entire limb.

Some concrete companies use flake ice when making concrete. The ice allows the concrete blocks to harden in a few hours.


Spheres are not common in ice mixers. But they can be extremely useful.

Their shape means that they melt at a far slower rate than cubes. They capture the light well, making them ideal as a garnish on top of thick beverages.

Spheres tend to be large. One or two spheres are all you need for drinks and garnishes.


The crescents function similarly to cubes, but their rounder edges allow the ice to fill the glass better. They can lie against the sides or bottom of a glass.

Crescents are hard to crush or chew. If you put them into a glass, you should make sure the person consuming them will not hurt their teeth on them.

Crescents melt slowly. This makes them usable for cooling items down. At the same time, they will not bring a hot drink down to a cool temperature in a short amount of time.

The unique shape of crescents makes it hard to pack a few pieces of ice together. You should put a few inside a glass or bag.

Gourmet Cubes

Gourmet cubes can have a few different shapes. Some cubes resemble octagons, while others look like cylinders. Some of the cylinders are hollowed out, making them look like top hats.

Gourmet cubes can be more than one inch long. They can fill a glass, though they do not pack together well.

As their name suggests, gourmet cubes are used in upscale settings. Bars and banquet halls serve drinks on the rocks using gourmet ice.

Their unusual shapes mean that no major ice dispensers create them. You may need to cut blocks of ice by hand in order to make their shapes.

You may be able to put some cubes in a bag. But they are not ideal for cooling someone or something down.

The Different Types of Ice

There are many types of ice you need to think about. Half cubes and full cubes are the most common types. Restaurants can use them for drinks.

Nugget cubes are chewable, making them ideal for drinks at senior living facilities. Flake ice can keep food cool and soothe injuries.

Spheres work as garnishes in expensive drinks. Crescent ice is versatile for drinks and cooling objects down. Gourmet cubes are eye-catching yet effective for cocktails.

Don’t break the bank making ice. The Ice Maker Depot lets you find great prices on ice makers. Request a quote today.

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