What is ice?
It's just frozen water, not expensive, nothing special – this often means that people oversee its importance until you need to chill your drink or enjoy a frappe. It’s actually used for far more in the day to day running of a food service business than you initially think. If you own a business it's highly important to provide the best products to your customers and for some businesses, this means having a constant supply of fresh ice. Restaurants, fishmongers and bars all need a constant supply of ice to be able to provide the best services to their clients – that is why investing in a commercial ice machine is vital to guarantee one of your most valuable commodities is always on hand. The type of your business and how you use the ice are two of the important things you need to consider when you plan to invest in an ice machine.
Ice in the Foodservice Sector and Beyond
As a restaurant owner your list of valuable commodities is filled with meat, veggies and dairy products, but have you ever thought of putting ice on the list too? Restaurants need high quantities of ice to chill drinks, store perishable foods and for specific cooking techniques and therefore a continuous supply of ice, often in multiple forms is essential.
Pubs and bars are another types of business which rely on fresh ice to be able to serve their cocktails and drinks at the best temperature, while fishmongers and supermarkets need large quantities of ice to preserve and display their fish.
Apart from the food industry, there are also other types of venues that require large amounts of ice and we can find some of them in the healthcare industry. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities require ice to be able to care for their patients. From people who are not able to swallow liquids to cancer patients and those who underwent neck surgeries, they all need fresh, clean ice to stay hydrated and alleviate their pain. Ice can also be used for cold compresses on swelling areas.
Ice in All Its Forms
Ice comes in multiple shapes and sizes and deciding which of them your business needs is the first step in deciding which ice machine to buy.
Ice cubes are the widest known type of ice and the first one that pops into one's head when they think of ice. Because it is compact and takes longer to melt, it is usually used to chill drinks, making them perfect for bars and pubs, as well as restaurants. Emergency rooms and laboratories also benefit from this type of ice. Because it is easy to produce it's perfect for businesses that need large quantities of ice.
Flaked ice or shaved ice is made of small pieces of ice which makes it easy to mould, pack and shape. This comes in handy when you need to create a fish display bed or a salad bar. Because it is easy to break down, it's perfect for making smoothies. Thanks to its properties, flaked ice is best for transportation and displays, which makes it a great commodity for salad bars, fishmongers, supermarkets and restaurants. Because it doesn't damage the blades of blenders, it's best for smoothie bars. Physical therapy, sports medicine facilities an emergency rooms can benefit from flaked ice to mould therapeutic ice packs.
Nugget ice is easy to chew on and has a slow melting pace, which makes it great for cocktails and carbonated drinks. Pubs, bars, restaurants and healthcare facilities can all benefit from having nugget ice for their customers or patients.
Read more about Types of Ice.
Producing Ice with the Right Commercial Ice Machine
Commercial ice machines come in many sizes and capacities, so you need to think of how much space you have and how much ice you need for your venue. There are two main types of ice machines: modular and integral.
Integral ice machines have a built-in storage bin and produce small to medium quantities of ice. Modular ice machines can produce more ice than integral ones and are sold as two separate elements, the ice maker and the storage bin.
Before you can decide on a modular or integral ice machine you need to decide how much ice you need. Different types of businesses need different ice quantities. Ice displays made up from flakes will require larger quantities, while a pub or a bar that uses cubes to chill drinks is going to need smaller amounts of ice. When you decide the capacity of your ice machine you need to take into consideration the melting rate of each type of ice, as well as the fact each type of ice comes in different shapes, which may influence the capacity of the ice machine as well as the storage unit size needed. Take a look at our Definitive Commercial Ice Machine Buying Guide for everything you need to know before purchasing your ice machine.
To protect your investment and make sure you always serve hygienic ice, it’s vital to regularly clean and maintain your ice machine. As with other consumable items, ice can harbour harmful bacteria that can contaminate ice through a dirty machine. Do you know how often you should be cleaning your ice machine?
If you own a restaurant, pub, fish market or healthcare facility you should consider investing in a high quality commercial ice machine. The initial investment is going to pay off quickly, as you won't have to worry about buying bagged ice ever again and your most valuable commodity will always be readily available.