Olivia Marcy Ice Facts

Solved! 5 Reasons Your Commercial Ice Machine Produces Cloudy Ice

Are you tired of cloudy ice that looks more like a foggy lump than a crystal-clear cube? Understanding the cause of cloudy ice is the first step towards solving the problem and ensuring your commercial ice maker produces clear ice that you (and your customers) will love! 

Why Is My Commercial Ice Machine Making Cloudy Ice?

We’ve spent the last 4 decades providing commercial ice machine maintenance and repair to Mid-South restaurants, offices, hospitals, and entertainment venues. In that time, we’ve seen and repaired a lot of ice machines that make murky ice. Based on our experience and expertise, we’ve assembled the top 5 reasons ice machines make cloudy ice and what you can do to prevent it. 

1. Trapped Air Bubbles

When water freezes, it typically forms a crystalline structure that is super clear and transparent. However, the presence of air bubbles disrupts this process and causes cloudy ice. As water freezes, the air gets trapped in the ice, causing tiny pockets of air to form. When light passes through the ice, those pesky air pockets scatter the light, resulting in a cloudy appearance. 

Commercial ice machines produce ice quickly, which can increase the likelihood of air bubbles being trapped in the freezing process. To keep your ice crystal-clear, you’ll want to use a water filtration system that can minimize air bubbles. 

2. Mineral Impurities

If your water contains minerals like calcium or magnesium, these mineral impurities can affect the freezing process. As water freezes, the minerals separate from the water molecules and form solid particles within the ice. Just like air bubbles, these particles scatter light and cause your ice to look cloudy. 

Whether your ice machine’s water source carries hard water or not, it’s a good idea to use a water filter. A water filter will remove any mineral impurities and preserve the clarity of your ice.

3. Cracks In Your Ice Cubes

As the temperature fluctuates, ice undergoes changes in its physical properties. Weird, right? For example, when the temperature drops, ice contracts, but it expands as the temperature rises. 

Once the ice cubes are frozen, most ice machines use a heat cycle to slightly melt the outer layer of ice, which causes it to release into the ice bin below. Due to the rising temperatures, ice cubes can expand and develop cracks. When this happens, you may notice a white "wall" on the inside or throughout the cube. 

Even if you have a water filter on your commercial ice maker, these cracks can cause your clear ice to look somewhat white and cloudy. Keep in mind that if your ice is opaque, the cause is likely not cracking but rather trapped air and minerals present in the ice.

4. Small Ice Cubes

Remember what we shared about air bubbles at the beginning? Well, small ice cubes are more susceptible to cloudiness because the ratio of cube size to air bubble volume is higher. Basically there’s less room for air bubbles to disperse in a smaller cube. That’s why nugget ice (aka pearl ice or “sonic ice”) is so cloudy and easy to crunch—it has lots of air bubbles! 

On the other hand, larger ice cubes tend to contain more concentrated pockets of air in the center, resulting in a relatively clear outer portion and a white interior.

5. A Fast Freeze

Is there such a thing as too fast a freeze? If you want clear ice, the answer is yes! 

Your ice machine will always produce cloudy Ice when the freezing process is too fast. This is because the ice cube freezes before air bubbles and impurities can escape during the freezing process. 

Moral of the story: don’t rush your ice machine if you want clear ice! 

Why Is Cloudy Ice A Problem?

There are aesthetic preferences involved but, looks aside, there are two main reasons  why clear ice is usually better than cloudy. 

  1. Cools faster, longer. Because clear ice doesn’t have air bubbles, it’s denser which means it melts more slowly and lasts longer.
  2. Better taste. Pure water that is free of mineral impurities means ice taste better.

Is Cloudy Ice Always A Bad Sign?

Not all cloudy ice is a bad thing. A prime example is everyone’s favorite ice: nugget ice. Those oh-so-crunchable cubes are delicious and refreshing—and super cloudy. But that doesn’t stop people from getting excited about “sonic ice”!

Memphis Ice Machine Company: Providing Quality Commercial Ice Machine Equipment & Expert Service

When it comes to finding the ideal ice machine that produces high-quality crystal-clear ice, our experts are here to help. Our goal is to simplify commercial ice machine buying, maintenance, and repair so you can focus on running your business. We take pride in providing expert guidance to ensure that you find the perfect ice machine for your needs. 

Ready to let us keep you cool, calm, and connected? Schedule a call today!

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