Back in the 1920’s, if you lived in a warmer climate, ice was hard to find. In fact, if you lived your whole life by the equator you would probably never even see a piece of ice and wonder what all the fuss was about. Even if you didn’t live on the equator but you wanted ice to cool drinks or to keep food cold, you would have to buy it from a delivery service which imported it in large chunks, or alternatively from an industrial sized refrigeration plant.

However, this all changed with the introduction of refrigerators to keep your food cool, then freezers, and this was followed in the 1960’s by the birth of ice making machines.

The actual process of making ice is not exactly rocket science: you just cool water until it freezes, and you have ice. However, forming it into perfect ice cubes is a bit different. Along came the plastic ice tray and you just filled it with water and put it into the freezer and then you had ice cubes.

There are several ways to make ice on a commercial scale and one of the easiest is using a large metal ice cube tray positioned vertically. In this system, the metal ice tray is connected to a set of coiled heat-exchanging pipes like the ones on the back of your refrigerator. A compressor drives a stream of refrigerant fluid in a continuous cycle of condensation and expansion. Basically, the compressor forces refrigerant through a narrow tube, called the condenser, to condense it, and then releases it into a wider tube, called the evaporator, where it can expand.

This is the way that ice machines such as the ice machines work. They have a water pump which pulls water from a collection sump and pours it over the chilled ice tray. The water gradually freezes forming ice cubes layer by layer, and this produces clear ice cubes. (When you freeze water all at once you get ice cubes that are not clear). Then there is a system which uses heat to force hot gas into a bypass tube which passes through evaporator pipes which rapidly heat up and then this loosens the ice cubes which are deposited into a collection bin, and the process starts again.

It’s all clever stuff but if you like your scotch on the rocks, this is how the rocks are produced. This is what you want in your drink, but there are also systems for making ice flakes for packaging perishable items. These use a similar process, but also include an ice crusher which breaks the ice into small pieces. You can buy all of these and many more from us.

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