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Types of Ice

Types of Ice

Last updated on 1/09/2019

Not all ice is the same. You may have noticed that there are different types of ice cubes, varying in shape and sizes. But why is that? How do ice cubes differ in a way that would make you choose one over the other?

Knowing the purpose that an ice cube serves and its ideal application and setting can help you narrow down your choices when selecting an ice machine for your establishment.

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Read on to learn about the differences between some of the more common ice cube types and the applications they are best for.

Use the following links to navigate and learn more about a specific ice style:
  1. Regular Cube
  2. Full Cube
  3. Half Cube
  4. Nugget Ice
  5. Flake Ice
  6. Crescent Ice
  7. Gourmet Ice

Ice Types Compared

Every ice type serves a particular purpose. Some are made with the intention of cooling drinks, while others are produced for chewing or even product display. Their varying characteristics make one more suitable for a certain task over another. Below, we explain the characteristics of each type of ice, common applications, along with their benefits to assist you in your selection.

Types of Ice Infographic

Regular Cube

  • Also Known As: Large Cube
  • Characteristics: The regular ice cube features a solid build and contains nearly a 100% ice-to-water ratio.
  • Application: These are best for large-volume applications, like bagging or dispensing ice. They are also ideal for soft drinks and mixed drinks.
  • Setting: Regular ice cubes are commonly found in commercial settings including restaurants and bars.
  • Size: 1 1/8” x 1 1/8” x 7/8”
  • Melt Rate: Slow
  • Benefits: Due to the larger size and slower melting rate, regular ice cubes provide maximum cooling while reducing ice consumption to save you money.

Full Cube

  • Also Known As: Dice Ice or Square Cube
  • Characteristics: The full ice cube features a solid build and contains nearly a 100% ice-to-water ratio.
  • Application: These are best for ice bagging and dispensing, as well as soft drinks and mixed drinks.
  • Setting: Full ice cubes are commonly found in restaurants, bars, convenience stores, and catering businesses.
  • Size: 7/8” x 7/8” x 7/8”
  • Melt Rate: Slow
  • Benefits: They provide a clean look as a result of their uniform shape and size. Due to the larger size and slower melting rate, full ice cubes provide maximum cooling while reducing ice consumption to save you money.

Half Cube

  • Also Known As: Half Dice or Small Cube
  • Characteristics: The half ice cube is known for its convenient size. It features a solid build and contains nearly a 100% ice-to-water ratio.
  • Application: These are best for ice bagging and self-service dispensing, as well as for drinks such as soft drinks, mixed drinks, blended drinks, and frozen cocktails.
  • Setting: Half cube ice is considered to be an ice for universal applications. Half ice cubes are commonly found in most commercial kitchens as well as restaurants, bars, and convenience stores.
  • Size: 7/8” x 7/8” x 3/8”
  • Melt Rate: Moderate
  • Benefits: They are incredibly versatile in application. Half cubes provide maximum cooling without watering down drinks too quickly.
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Nugget Ice

  • Also Known As: Tubular Nugget Ice, Pebble Ice, Pellet Ice, or “Sonic” Ice
  • Characteristics: Nugget ice is soft to make it easy to chew, while still being hard enough to dispense.
  • Application: This ice is best for soft drinks, cold drinks, and blended drinks like smoothies or frozen cocktails. It can also be provided on its own for customers and patients to chew.
  • Setting: Nugget ice is commonly found in healthcare facilities, restaurants, bars, and convenience stores.
  • Size: 3/8"-1/2" in length and width, Bite Sized
  • Melt Rate: Quick
  • Benefits: It is considered to be attractive to ice chewers because it absorbs the flavors of the drink and is easy to break down when chewed. Nugget ice blends well and cools drinks rapidly.

Flake Ice

  • Also Known As: N/A
  • Characteristics: Flake ice is soft and snow-like, featuring a 73% ice-to-water ratio. It cools rapidly and can be easily molded.
  • Application: This ice is primarily for display applications to present seafood, meats, and produce in market display cases or buffet lines. It is also often used for medical compresses or in blended drinks.
  • Setting: Flake ice is commonly found in grocery stores, fish markets, buffets, and healthcare institutions.
  • Size: Varies
  • Melt Rate: Quick
  • Benefits: Due to its soft consistency, flake ice is gentle on produce and fragile seafood in displays or food transport to prevent bruising. The softness is also ideal for compresses on injuries as it cools without adding too much pressure.

Crescent Ice

  • Also Known As: N/A
  • Characteristics: Crescent ice has a distinct half-moon shape and features a solid build.
  • Application: This ice is best for ice bagging and dispensing, as well as soft drinks and mixed drinks.
  • Setting: Crescent ice is commonly found in most commercial kitchens as well as restaurants, bars, and convenience stores.
  • Size: 1 1/2" x 1 1/8" x 1/2"
  • Melt Rate: Slow
  • Benefits: Due to its unique shape, crescent ice is able to move freely in a glass without packing together and is able to better fill a glass as it is uniform with the sides. This shape creates exceptional liquid displacement and easy flow as a customer enjoys their beverage.

Gourmet Ice

  • Also Known As: Top Hat Ice or Octagon Shaped Ice
  • Characteristics: Gourmet ice has a unique octagonal or cylindrical shape, features a solid build, and contains nearly a 100% ice-to-water ratio.
  • Application: This ice is best for serving in high-end liquors and upscale drinks like whiskeys or an old fashioned.
  • Setting: Gourmet ice is commonly found in upscale restaurants, bars, and banquet halls.
  • Size: 1 3/8" x 1 3/8" or 1 1/4” x 1 1/8” x 7/8” depending on shape
  • Melt Rate: Slow
  • Benefits: Due to its unique shape and large size, gourmet ice effectively cools drinks and offers an eye-catching presentation. The ice is crystal clear and elegant without watering down drinks too quickly.


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Ice is part of your presentation whether you’re serving drinks or displaying food. If you own a restaurant, convenience store, grocery store, or bar, finding the correct ice for your application can provide a positive customer experience as well as save you money in the long run.

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