If you own or manage a restaurant or other food service establishment, an ice machine is an essential piece of equipment for your operations and will undoubtedly be one of your first purchases. However, before you buy an ice machine, take time to learn about the various options available to you.

Below is some helpful information about the different types of ice machines as well as ice cube types.

Ice Types

Before you begin evaluating the various machines and make a purchase decision, it is important to decide what type of ice types you will need in your business. The choice of ice type is not a random matter; instead, it is based on the type of customer served as well as your business model.

Below are the most common ice types available and some information about usage characteristics.

Crescent Ice

The most used ice shape, crescent ice is formed as half-cylinders and is designed to be an all-purpose type. Crescent ice melts relatively slowly, which prevents dilution of drinks and also doesn't take up an inordinate amount of room inside cups.

In addition, crescent ice is suitable for both dispensing machines or for hand-scooped dispensing. However, crescent ice doesn't pack well, so it is less preferable than other options.

Chewable (Flaked) Ice

Ice in this category is shaved or crushed and is an excellent option for use with soft drinks and in other circumstances where ice is likely to be chewed. Chewable ice also packs well, which makes it suitable for use in ice chests and other containers.

The downside of chewable ice is that it melts quickly and will rapidly dilute a beverage, especially if not dispensed into an insulated cup.

Square Ice

Square ice is the classic cube and is found in numerous environments. However, its most appropriate use is often in bars and other areas where alcohol is served. The extremely slow melt rate of square ice makes it ideal for use with alcoholic beverages when dilution is particularly undesirable.

Square ice also takes up more space in a glass, and this can save your business money by lessening the amount of beverage used to fill the container. Keep in mind that square ice is the least chewable type of ice and doesn't conform to packing, so understand it will be somewhat less versatile than crescent and chewable ice.

Machine Types

Once you decide on an ice type, you can shift your attention to the type of machine you wish to purchase. Ice machines produce ice at varying capacities, and you will need to base this aspect of your purchase on your expected business volume.

In addition, always consider that it is better to buy a bigger machine than you think you'll need. Your ice machine should be able to grow with your business, and it should also be able to handle unexpected demand levels. For example, more ice is likely to be dispensed during the warmer months.

Another factor to consider when looking at ice machine types is how the machine is cooled. Ice machines produce a considerable amount of heat, which is extracted from the incoming water supply. This heat must be dispersed or the ice machine will eventually break down as a result.

Ice machines are commonly cooled by ambient air or water. Ambient air-cooled machines need to be kept away from other objects and should be provided plenty of space for operation.

Water-cooled machines use a separate water line to provide cooling, which makes their use convenient when you don't have the luxury of providing a lot of room around the machine. Keep in mind, though, that watercooled machines can cost more than air-cooled units, and they also consume more water. In fact, in some locales, water-cooled ice machines are prohibited due to their water consumption.

If you have questions about ice machines, including which type may be right for you, be sure to contact Golden State Repair for help. Our team of professionals can make recommendations and also perform valuable maintenance and service on your machine when necessary.