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  • Writer's pictureDanny Klos

Ice, Ice, Baby: Different Types of Ice Cubes and Their Purposes

Updated: Apr 8

Ice is ice is ice, right? How different can ice really be? Well, buckle up, because we’re going to go on a frosty adventure. Sure, all ice is technically cold and solid. However, there are some very distinct differences between ice shapes and their uses! Here, we’ll delve into the ice cubes and functionality of something that we may take for granted in our everyday lives.

First, we will start off with a fan favorite: the nugget. Nugget ice can go by many names, like tubular nugget ice, pellet ice, or probably the most common name, “Sonic” ice. We all know and love this ice. It blends perfectly into whatever drink we’re enjoying and it’s the most pleasant ice to munch on. This ice is best used for soft drinks and blended beverages, like smoothies, for its relatively soft-on-the-teeth texture. It’s also commonplace to use this ice to snack on! This ice shape is best suited for restaurants, medical facilities, and bars. However, the main drawback to nuggets ice is its tendency to melt or dissolve into drinks fairly quickly.

Nugget ice maker makes small cubelet pieces of ice
Nugget ice in a glass

Next, let’s explore crescent ice. Crescent ice has one flat side and one rounded side and is what you will most commonly find in bagged ice from the grocery store or gas station. It is fairly solid and hard to chew. The great thing about this sturdy ice is that its melting speed is pretty slow compared to other shapes of ice. This shape is used regularly in restaurants and bars due to its ability to keep beverages very cold with minimal melting. It can float freely in glasses without forming disruptive clumps and can be a bartender’s best friend when making mixed drinks since it releases such little water when agitated due to its shape.

Now, full cube versus half cube, also commonly referred to as full dice and half dice. The obvious difference between these two is size. While one is a full cube, the other is half its size. Half-cube ice melts faster due to its smaller shape but makes up for its high meltability by being excellent for making blended drinks due to its size. Full cube ice melts slower since it has less surface area exposed to the liquid that it’s placed in, but due to its larger size, it’s difficult for patrons to enjoy being able to chew on it while also giving workers a hard time when trying to make blended drinks. One great thing about both of these options is that they look attractive when in use because of their simple and clean shape.

Full dice ice cube from manitowoc ice machine
Full Dice Cube Ice

Up next, we have flake ice, which is a type of ice with some very specialized applications. Flake ice is fluffy, snow-like ice which can be easily molded. The most common uses for flake ice include creating displays for seafood and meat in the butcher section of a supermarket or often used in the medical field to make compresses. As you might think, flake ice melts extremely easily and quickly in the wrong setting. Since flake ice is so soft, it is also ideal for transporting produce since it prevents bruising to fruits and vegetables.

Last but not least, we have gourmet ice. Gourmet ice can come in many shapes and sizes, but it is most often characterized by its crystal-clear appearance. This shape is very solid and attractive to the eye while also melting quite slowly. You will most commonly find gourmet ice in higher-end applications, like in the serving of fine liquor. It not only effectively cools a drink, but it also offers an elegant and striking display for those who get to enjoy it.

Residential ice maker gourmet ice cube from Manitowoc SMS050 ice machine
Manitowoc gourmet ice cube

Although it can seem superfluous on the surface, the shape of your ice can be very important! Depending on whether you are looking to supply your restaurant, bar, supermarket, or hospital with the perfect ice machine, there is a specific ice shape out there to fit your specific needs. For restaurants, shapes like nuggets and half and full cubes work wonderfully. Flake ice provides all the cooling power and none of the bruising power to markets seeking to display and transport fragile foods, and gourmet ice offers a luxurious solution to any speakeasy looking to up their whiskey game.

Here at Tri-Point, we can help you find the best ice maker to fit your commercial or residential needs. Please contact us to get in touch with one of our knowledgeable and friendly techs to start your journey in finding the perfect ice maker for you and your business!

For a direct line to any of our employees ready on the line to help you, please call…

(512) 651-4565 for our Austin, Texas community or (806) 686-0050 for our Lubbock, Texas community

Or check out our website at



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