Types of IceYour commercial ice maker should deliver quality ice for absolute customer satisfaction. Commercial ice machines are different than the appliances that you see in homes. The means of dispensing ice, available accessories, and opportunity for energy savings provide choices in commercial ice machines.

How Commercial Ice Makers Work

Commercial ice makers are either water-cooled or air-cooled.
A water-cooled ice maker is typically more energy efficient, while air-cooled is more water-efficient. And, there are varying degrees of efficiency within each type. It’s difficult to say how much water efficiency you can gain with a new machine due to the following factors:

  • Type of water – hard vs. soft
  • Water filter – how much sediment is reduced to keep the water as clean as possible.
  • How much rinsing your machine needs – the more rinsing, the more water used.

Selecting The Right Ice Maker

Here are a few tips about ice making that can help you decide what type of machine is best for you and your business:

Melt times– the larger the cube, the slower the melt. So, if you offer drinks where you want to maintain the integrity of the drink for a long time, consider a large cube-making machine. Kold-Draft makes the largest cubes in the business. They’re sized to over an inch diameter. The difference is in the aircooled cube and condensing.

Volume – Estimating your current and future needs for amounts of ice production per day is important to getting the right machine that can grow with your business. The capacity you need, number of lbs per person, will determine which model you select. If your need for volume is not significant, you may want to consider an undercounter ice maker for saving space.

Customer preferences – If you know that your customers like to chew ice and like a crushed texture, you have several choices. Scotsman pioneered nugget ice and has a variety of nugget ice making machines to choose from. It’s the filtered water that makes commercial ice makers ice the purest quality, resulting in better taste. Whether one lb or 200 pounds, a high quality filter adds to the taste regardless of the shape. The taste of ice adds to enjoyment of food at restaurants.

Maintenance – All ice machines require maintenance, but the new Indigo™ line from Manitowoc takes communication to a new level. The machine lets you know when various tasks are required. The commercial ice machine functions are selfcontained and the information provided from the machine can reduce the number of repairs needed. If you read a review of Indigo ice maker commercial machines, you’re likely to see a lot of stars from the people who write the rating. Another one of the items to consider regarding maintenance is the exterior of the maker commercial ice. For example, stainless steel is the most efficient material for keeping clean.

Location – If you have space restraints, think creatively about moving food storage to the outdoor behind your restaurant. Many restaurants like the additional sq feet in a walkin refrigerator, and this allows more room in the kitchen for other items such as your commercial ice maker.

Types of Ice & Production


Flaker Ice – 73% Ice to Water Ratio. Typically shaved ice comes in the style of a snowflake and used for food displays. Daily production: 150 lbs and goes up to 2,600 lbs.

Nugget Ice – 90% Ice to Water Ratio. Softer, chewable ice that is compacted flaker ice. Daily production: Starts at 150 lbs daily.

Half-Diced Ice – 100% Ice to Water Ratio. Most popular ice and is used primarily for sodas. Size is generally 3/8” x 1 1/8” x 7/8”. Daily production: Ranges from 130 lbs to 3,300 lbs.

Diced Ice – 100% Ice to Water Ratio. Rhomboid-shaped. Size is generally 7/8” x 7/8” x 7/8”. Daily production: Ranges from 60 lbs
to 2,000 lbs.

Crushed Ice – 100% Ice to Water Ratio. These ice pieces are diced or half-diced crushed into smaller pieces and crushed into pellets. Daily production: Manually produced and can make up to 2,000 lbs.

Tubular Ice – 100% Ice to Water Ratio. Ammoiated freezing systems are used. Long, round with a hole in the center. Texture is softer and chewable texture. Daily production: 30 lbs to 184 lbs.

Gourmet Ice – 100% Ice to Water Ratio. Larger cubes that are hard and clear and can be octagon, round or square shaped and used with craft cocktails. Size is usually 1 1/4” x 1 1/4” x 1 1/4”. Daily machine:60 lbs to 1,000 lbs.

Ice Required Per Person

Business/application Type of ice Amount of ice per day
Restaurant cube 3 lbs./person
Fast food small cube 3 lbs./person
Banquet service (church events) cube or crushed 1 lb./person
Office cafeteria cube or crushed 3 lbs./seat6 lbs./seat
Large containers cube 4 lbs./gallon


To figure the ice another way, here’s how much ice it takes to fill a glass to three-fourths full with ice (the perfect amount to keep a drink cold):


Cup size Amount of cube
8 oz. 3 oz.
12 oz. 4 1/2 oz.
16 oz. 6 oz.
20 oz. 7 1/2 oz.


Getting a new ice making machine doesn’t have to be complicated or costly. You’ll want guidance from experts who make it a policy to save you money and help you make the best choices before you buy a commercial ice machine. Our history and relationships with manufacturers give you the best opportunity to get a machine that’s just right for your needs and budget. You can lease a new machine starting at $59/month that includes a water filtration system. And, Ice and Refrigeration Systems delivers for FREE! You can email us or call for more information – 817-888-3056. Be sure to visit our online commercial ice maker store!