Ice Machines and Dispensers

Types: There are three main types of ice forms: full-size, meaning actual full, square cubes as well as various other shapes that vary by manufacturer; flake ice; and nugget ice, which generically refers to ice that is smaller than full-size cubes. The basic types of ice machines are modular, undercounter and countertop.

Undercounter or self-contained units have the ice maker and bin attached into one compact machine. Modular units allow operators to purchase and attach an independent bin to the ice maker.

There are ice machines that form other cube types including dice, half dice, gourmet, octagon and crushed.

Most machines and bins are made up of stainless, aluminized steel and plastic, while copper is often used for the evaporators.

Stand-alone countertop ice dispensers for foodservice facilities are generally hand-filled. In high-volume operations, floor-model dispensers can be paired with ice machines.

Capacities/Footprints: Modular ice machines' capacities range from 250 to 3,300 lbs. of production in 22-, 30- and 48-inch footprints. Self-contained modular machines have capacities that range from 50 to 300 lbs. of production.

Countertop nugget icemakers and water dispensers produce larger amounts of ice with smaller storage capacities for greater efficiency. Dispensing options include ice only, water only, or ice and water combinations.

Countertop dispensers can store between 10 and 90 lbs. of hand-loaded ice. Large floor models can accommodate up to 1,000 lbs.

Energy source(s): All ice machines use water and electricity.

The three types of condensing systems currently in use are air-cooled, water-cooled and remote.

New Features/Technology/Options: Antimicrobial protection in plastic food zone components inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold, mildew and fungus to help keep the equipment sanitary and working properly between cleanings.

Ice dispensers now feature infrared sensors that dispense predetermined cup- or container-sized amounts, while eliminating the need for staff or customers to touch a dispenser.

Key Kitchen Applications: Cube ice is the most common form and it is most commonly used to cool beverages. Cube ice comes in larger or smaller sizes, depending on the needs of the user.

Flake and chewable ice forms are ideal for smoothies and blended cocktails. These softer ice forms create consistently smooth beverages and result in less wear and tear on blenders. The ice also takes less time to blend, which enables bartenders to make and serve drinks faster.

Flake or nugget ice can also be used for seafood, meat or produce displays, or salad bars.

Purchasing Guidelines: Determine how much ice is needed in a day and the desired shape. Before buying an ice machine or dispenser, measure the width, length and height of the space available.

Determine which kind of condensing system will work best for the circumstances and surroundings.

Maintenance requirements: The frequency of cleaning is dependent on the quality of water going to the ice machine and the environment surrounding it.

Thoroughly rinsing out the bin and purging the ice machine, as well as throwing away the first batch of ice, is very important to ensure all chemicals have been removed from the ice making and storage zones.

Food Safety and Sanitation Essentials: Ice is a food product, so operators should wash their hands before handling ice, just like they would with any other food product.

Basically, ice machines need water filtration to eliminate scale, bacteria and other impurities in the water supply.

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