Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Apr 19, 2013 08:57 AM

Ice cube guidance. Yup. Really.

I'm solidly old school. Our refrigerator does not have an ice cube maker. We fill eight ice cube trays with water and wait for the freezing. The eight trays are all plastic, with three different "weights" and "designs".

I'd like guidance on how to remove the cubes from the trays without shattering the cubes. Seems a simple task, but far more often than not; when I twist on the trays to loosen the cubes, I get shards of ice and few whole cubes.

Could our freezer temp be set to low?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I always run the tray under some tap water before I remove the cubes.

    5 Replies
      1. re: khuzdul

        Yup. Been doing that for decades. Both top of tray and bottom.

        Maybe I'm not running enough water over the cubes...

        I'll run significantly more later this afternoon when cocktail time arrives. Then report back.

        Thank you both.

        1. re: RedTop

          Ahh, if you were doing that, then it is more than just a release problem from the tray. Your other thought that the freezer temp is too low is a good one.

          If the freezer temp is too low, the water to crystalizes fast. With a freezing but not too cold freezer, a few crystals form and grow into a large unified unit with few faults. If the freezer is too cold, then the water crystalizes faster and many crystals form and grow - the resultant ice cube has many faults and is weaker.

          The amount of force you are applying when you twist the tray is too much for the weaker ice cubes. You can either reduce the amount of force needed to extract the ice cubes by running more water over the back of the tray longer then you currently do in order to melt it more, or you can raise the temperature of your freezer...

          1. re: khuzdul

            Great advice. Thank you, khuzdul. Will do as such to prepare for today's cocktail hour.

      2. re: wyogal

        I agree. I read this tip on CH a few years ago, and it has worked. I make sure that I run the water and get rid of chips and bring the temp of the trays up with running water for a minute before I fill and put it in the freezer. So simple, but it worked for me.

      3. What kind of trays? The old metal lever-type, which never worked well and always needed running water---or the newer plastic kind, which I never have major problems with?

        1 Reply
        1. re: mwhitmore

          All plastic.

          None of them really new. Oldest set, perhaps 14 years old.

        2. I have 2 different sizes of silicone ice trays-big cubes and regular cubes. They pop right out and never shatter.

          1. 1. Be sure the trays are free of ice and frost before filling.

            2. Fill with tepid water, not cold water.

            3. Fill high, not low.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Karl S

              I like your suggestions #2 and #3, Karl. Hopefully before the weekend is out, I will have mastered the art of making non-fractured ice cubes!

              1. re: Karl S

                I have never understood the whole 'warmer water freezes faster than cold water' thing. I also think that overfilling the tray leads to more shards than under filling.

                  1. re: Kris in Beijing

                    ..and if you do you will find nearly every article reveals it is complete and utter bullshit. Only under very specific and differing conditions with different types of samples does it occasionally work. It never works when you use identical samples. It has no real world application and has nothing to do with your ice.

                    1. re: acgold7

                      In my experience as a Science Fair judge, I've seen dozens of kids use water temp vs. freezing times as their project.

                      Inevitably boiling freezes faster, and at least half the time the adults who are the icecube-tray-fillers don't believe it.

                      1. re: Kris in Beijing

                        Because boiling removes some/ most of the air?

                  2. re: John E.

                    The purpose of filling with tepid water isn't for better freezing - and no, warm water does not freeze faster - the tepid water melts any ice that is for some reason stuck to the tray and would cause a fracture in the future cube.

                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                      That makes sense. I haven't cracked an ice cube tray regularly in almost twenty years. Visiting my snowbird father in Arizona is the only time the chore comes up anymore. I don't seem to recall any problem with ice cube fissures.

                  3. re: Karl S

                    So I followed your suggestions, #2 and #3 last night at cocktail hour, Karl. (already practice #1).

                    Ran water over the bottom of three trays, let water sit on top of the trayed ice for about a minute while I filled other trays. All three trays released the cubes without shattering any of them!

                  4. Strangely I've noticed my ice cubes shatter when I make them with bottled water, if I use tap they come out perfect. Not sure if its a water temperature thing, the tap used is very cold while the bottled water is room temperature, or if its related to whatever may be in the water.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: WhatsEatingYou

                      Well, bottled water probably has less air in suspension, which makes for clearer cubes.

                      1. re: Karl S

                        I always used bottled water for ice cubes and coffee, since I can't trust the water in my area. I also sometimes use leftover Perrier to make ice cubes, since I hate to throw it away. The ice cubes come out white rather than clear, which is strange enough. But the worst is, when you go to pop them out of the tray, they explode! Guess all the little bubbles are trapped inside. Very dangerous but I've learned to turn my head at just the right moment.