ice cubes

meghan Community, Family, Ice Types, Ice Uses, Ice-O-Matic

ASK THE EXPERTS: How Long Does it Take for Ice Cubes to Freeze in an Ice Machine?

A watched ice tray never freezes. Okay, that’s not true. But sometimes it feels like forever, especially if you need ice cubes RIGHT NOW. So what’s going on? Why isn’t water freezing faster? How long does it take for ice cubes to freeze? 

Under standard conditions, say your freezer, a simple 12-cube plastic tray will take around four hours from soaked to solid. Actually, it’s pretty fun to play around with partially frozen cubes. Give it a try! Some of the water is still liquid inside the cube, while the outside is frozen solid.  

What about an ice machine? Well, the time it takes for ice to freeze can get a bit more complex.

Ice size and shape

The size of your cube, chip, pearl, whichever ice you enjoy, directly relates to the speed at which it freezes. The smaller the amount of water is, the faster it’ll freeze. We wrote a blog about directional freezing using a normal picnic cooler. You need to fill it up with water, store it in a freezer, and wait. Patiently. That will take you anywhere between a few hours to an entire day. That's because ice freezes from the outside in. More water means more to freeze. Thanks to molecular physics and the property of water, that just takes longer. 

That’s why ice trays have dividers. Big machines have this too! Reducing the surface area of water drastically increases the time to freeze.


The interior temperature of your freezer matters. And you wouldn’t think it at first, but so does the exterior temperature. Ice machines and refrigerators need optimal temperatures to function at peak efficiency. Reduced efficiency means longer freeze times or worse, damage. Warmer temperatures will increase the freezing time of your ice, and if it climbs above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or zero degrees celsius, it’ll begin to melt.

Container build material matters

Plastic is a better insulator than metal, which works against your freezing goal. Instead of plastic, choose a stainless steel tray or an ice machine that uses a stainless steel freezing tray to freeze your ice faster. And oddly enough, hot water results in faster ice formation. Nobody definitively knows why! It’s called the Mpemba effect, and you can be sure they’ll be studied for years to come to discover its hidden mysteries. 

Is an ice machine faster than an ice tray?

Absolutely. It’s faster than a refrigerator‘s ice maker too. We mentioned that what your container is made of matters. A dedicated ice machine features metal ice trays that have water run over the cold metal ice trays. Ice forms almost instantly along the metal ice trays and builds up rather quickly. Instead of three or four hours, you could have ice in just minutes. Once the ice is fully formed, it drops below for your enjoyment!

An ice machine from Memphis Ice is fast, cold ice whenever you want. Rent today!

Starting at just $4 a day, you can bring restaurant-quality ice to your home. It’s fast, chilling, and top quality. This is the most cost-effective and simplest way to enjoy the best ice around. On top of quality ice, you’ll have access to the full suite of services from Memphis Ice: service calls, cleaning, emergency service, and preventive maintenance.

Submit a rental application to our robust rental program! One of our dedicated service professionals will reach out to you quickly. For more information on our rental program, click here.

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