The planet is warming, and we’re hot, dreaming of ice-cold drinks. However, we’d rather enjoy our chilled beverage without a side-serving of guilt.
We’ve switched over to sustainable cloth bags and reusable cardboard boxes for hauling our groceries. But more often than not we are still making ice cubes out of cheap plastic ice cube trays that don't last very long and eventually end up in landfill. Is there an eco-friendly ice cube tray?
The most eco-friendly ice cube trays are using what you have rather than buying new ones. If you need to purchase a new product, look for sustainable materials such as stainless steel and silicone. If you are seeking a biodegradable solution, consider using egg cartons with aluminum foil as a DIY ice cube tray.
What Makes an Eco Ice Cube Tray
When looking for an ice cube tray that is eco-friendly the options are actually extremely limited.
Almost all ice cube trays are mass produced using cheap plastics or cheap silicone. I guess ice cube trays are a commodity product but given toothbrushes and straws have become eco friendly I thought I would have more luck with ice cube trays.
I found some options but I first wanted to weigh up what exactly makes an ice cube tray eco-friendly?
The biggest things for me when buying an eco friendly ice cube tray is avoiding plastic altogether. Plastics have been known to leech chemicals into your drinks and the same could be true for ice.
Some people recommend you using boiling water to make ice cubes faster, but the thought of putting boiling water into a plastic ice cube tray is a big no-no for me. Also, given plastics can be hard to recycle, mostly end up in landfill and take hundreds if not thousands of years to break down I wanted to avoid plastic.
That leaves stainless steel, silicone and maybe wood or ceramics…but I couldn't find any wooden or ceramic ice cube trays.
The next thing I looked at is longevity. How long do I think this ice cube tray can last?
Silicone ice cube trays can last a long time but sometimes they degrade or get a white residue on them from the water. Stainless steel ice cube trays seem like a long lasting option as they are made of a durable material and are unlikely to break even if dropped.
To be eco friendly I want the ice cube trays to come with recyclable packaging or as little packaging as possible. I don't need it to arrive wrapped in plastic.
Recyclability or Ability To Break Down
Lastly, when I'm done with my ice cube tray and it not longer works how recyclable is it?
Both stainless steel and silicone can be recycled multiple times, albeit they are difficult for the average consumer to find somewhere to recycle them. You can recycle Hydro Flasks and other stainless steel bottles with a little bit of effort, so it shouldn't be too hard to recycle a stainless steel ice cube tray.
So with all these features in mind, what are the best eco-friendly ice cube trays?
11 Best Stainless-Steel & Silicone Eco Friendly Ice Cube Trays
To help you on your search for an eco-friendly ice cube tray, we’ve rounded up the best ones made from stainless steel or silicone.
These materials have an eco-friendlier profile than plastic and are generally considered safer for your food. We have everything from your classic cube, to fun shapes, and even the ever-popular spheres.
1. Ecozoi Stainless Steel Metal Ice Cube Tray With Easy Release Handle
Econzoi Stainless Steel Metal Ice Cube Tray is a top buy on this list because it pays attention to its packaging. Not only is the sustainable product easy to use and clean, but the company also aims for zero waste, using recyclable packing made from recycled materials. Econzoi also plants a tree for every purchase.
The ice cube tray itself is made out of kitchen grade stainless steel, which itself is 100% recyclable. The packaging it comes in is basic cardboard and also easily recycled.
It's more expensive than most plastic ice cube trays but it looks incredible and it makes ice cubes larger than regular ice cube trays.
The way it makes ice is unique too. The center piece has an easy release handle (making it one of the best easy release ice cube trays too, not just an eco one) that you lift up once all the ice is frozen. When you do it breaks the ice up into chunks.
It's a great product and very highly rated and if you're like me and like to avoid plastic and aren't a fan of silicone (especially if you're getting a white residue on your silicone ice cube trays) then a metal tray like the Ecozoi is a great option.
It makes 18 large cubes in one go with the only major downside being it's more expensive price tag and the fact that it's not stackable in the freezer. But other than that it's a great ice cube tray, it's ecofriendly and plastic free and it's very highly rated by all it's customers.
2. Vintage Kitchen Ice Cube Tray 2-Pack
Just like the Ecozoi the Vintage Kitchen Ice Cube Trays are made of stainless steel and this brand comes in a 2 pack for a similar price to just 1 of the Ecozoi ice cube trays.
In fact, you'll find a few stainless steel ice cube trays on this list that all look basically identical. Maybe there is one manufacturer who makes these and brands just slap their label on them, I'm not exactly sure.
Still if you want more than one ice cube tray and you want to save some money whilst still going plastic free and eco friendly then this could be the option for you.
3. Froz Silicone Ice Cube Mold
The Froz silicone ice cube trays makes large ice cubes which are great for whiskeys, cocktails, soda and iced coffees. The ice cubes melt much slower than regular smaller ice cubes.
Froz also uses minimal packaging for their ice cube trays with just a paper wrap around it and they are stackable which can save you space in the freezer.
4. Bizz Ice Silicone Sphere Molds
Bizz Ice Silicone Sphere Molds are committed to eco-friendly ideals of durable, plastic-free products.
Their sphere molds are backed by warranty, easy to clean, and stain and odor-resistant.
What I really like about these spherical molds is that they are individual and so they don't take up much room in your freezer and you can fit them even into small spaces.
5. HOSNNER Extra Large Soup Ice Cube Tray
One of the best ways to make an ice cube tray eco is to have multiple uses for it. The Hosnner ice cube trays are unique in the fact that they are super large and can be used to make ice cubes but can also be used to store meals like soup and baby food.
They are one of the best large ice cube trays on the market and the smaller trays make ice cubes that are 250mL in volume with the larger trays making ice cubes that are 500mL in volume.
I wish this product were rectangular in shape as I feel these ice cubes would be better for drinks. But you can easily break up the big ice cubes it makes into more manageable chunks just like the method you use to make chewy hospital ice.
This ice cube tray has some cool features that makes it even more practical:
- The lid has sliding tabs so you can set date reminders as to when you froze your food
- It comes with a lid making it stackable
- It's made of silicone so it's free from plastic and more eco friendly.
6. Baking Trays/Molds
One of the best ways to be eco-friendly is to not buy new when you can use something you already have.
Baking trays, whether they be made from metal or silicone, can both double as ice cube trays. It's a clever ice cube tray hack and it gives you unique shaped ice cubes that range in size.
Even if you only have a very large baking tray you can still use it to make block ice which can be used in a cooler or you can quite easily cut up block ice into ice cubes of the size you want.
7. Egg Carton With Aluminum Foil
Rather than throwing away your egg cartons you can use them to make ice cubes. It's one of the easiest ways to make small ice cubes without an ice cube tray.
Ideally use aluminum foil (which is also recyclable) to line the insides of your egg carton and then fill them up with water. Once frozen you can take them out and then reuse the egg carton to make more ice cubes.
You can even use the lid and aluminum foil to make large blocks of ice.
Once the egg carton deteriorates you can simply compost or recycle it.
8. Onyx Stainless-Steel Metal Ice Cube Tray
Onyx is another stainless-steel option for those that find silicone too floppy.
Stainless steel doesn’t leech any chemicals into your ice, and the onyx make is sturdy, with an easy-to-use handle to pop that ice out.
However, the packaging does not appear to hold itself to Econzoi’s eco-friendly standards.
9. Stainless Steel Metal Ice Cubes
The ultimate in reusable ice cubes is stainless steel cubes. Instead of freezing water simply freeze these cubes and then throw them in your drink and they'll keep your drink cold without diluting it.
These are perfect for whiskey, coffee or any other drink where you don't want the water from the ice diluting the drink and ruining the flavor.
They are also completely reusable. Once you've finished your drink give them a rinse and throw them back in the freezer to be ready for next time. They can also be recycled just like the other stainless steel ice cube trays in this list.
This set comes with 8 cubes, and a tray to store them in the freezer (which is the least eco-friendly part). It even comes with tongs, so you can lift them out of the tray and put them into your glass. They also come with a 12-month warranty.
10. RSVP International Stainless-Steel Ice Cube Tray
RSVP International has a stainless-steel option that they’re marketing as vintage-inspired.
However, while stainless steel is more eco-friendly than plastic, no claims are made on their packaging.
Thus, while this product is well-liked, if you are concerned, perhaps stick with the Ecozoi.
11. BONUS: Opal Nugget Ice Maker Machine
Rather than looking for an ice cube tray you might want to actually consider an ice making machine, especially if you're hoping to make ice at volume.
The Opal Nugget Ice Maker is one of the most popular and highest rated nugget ice machines. The Opal turns on and makes ice in as little as 15 minutes, so you don't need to have it running all day long which can save power and be more eco-friendly.
The downside of the Opal is the cost, it's extremely expensive and will set you back a pretty penny. Though many people feel the Opal Nugget Ice Machine is well worth the money.
I don't know if a complex machine like this is more “eco” than a simple ice cube tray in a freezer but I do feel if you're making ice in volume this would likely be more energy efficient. It makes 1 pound of nugget ice per hours, that's up to 24 pounds per day.
If you've got a big family, running a party or just love having a lot of ice around then this machine may be a good option for you.
Stainless Steel vs. Silicone Vs. Plastic – Which Are The Most Eco Friendly Ice Cube Trays?
The public has become fed up with plastic. However, if your plastic ice-cube tray is BPA-free, the most environmentally friendly thing you can do is keep using it rather than throw it out.
Also, plastic has made some products more sustainable, manufacturing has become less wasteful, and BPA-free is becoming the norm. Lastly, it is an incredibly lightweight and inexpensive material.
However, if you are concerned that other chemicals may be leaching into your plastic ice cube tray, you still don’t need to toss them. Instead, you can upcycle them into a painter pallet, seed trays, or even use them to organize small craft items, such as beads. There are loads of different ice cube tray hacks you can use to extend and expand the life of your ice cube tray.
But once you’ve decided against plastic, the main two materials left for an ice cube tray are stainless steel and silicon.
The Pros & Cons Of Stainless-Steel Ice Cube Trays
Stainless steel is an alloy made from non-renewable resources such as nickel and aluminum. However, its manufacturing is fairly straightforward; thus, its fuel consumption is low, comparatively speaking. There is little to no disposable chemical waste created, and it is an easy material to recycle if you know where to take it. It is durable and doesn’t leach toxins into food or soil.
As to stainless steel ice cube trays, they won’t absorb scents or flavors. This is a big bonus because sometimes silicone ice cube trays can absorb odors and flavors making your ice taste bad even if the water is good.
However, stainless-steel ice trays are not perfect. They tend to be pricey, heavy, incredibly cold to the touch, and the ice is hard to remove if they don’t have a lever or it broke.
- No leaching toxins
- Doesn’t absorb scents
- Manufacturing process is straightforward, with little to no chemical waste
- Not as affordable as other options
- Ice is difficult to remove without a lever
- Cold to touch
- Not stackable
The Pros & Cons For Silicone Ice Cube Trays
Silicone is a manufactured material where one of the key ingredients is silica, often found in sand. Thus this flexible, durable, non-pours material, which doesn’t become significantly hot or cold to the touch, is considered by many a wonderful and more natural alternative to plastic.
However, despite our world being covered in sand, we’re running out of the stuff. The material’s sustainability is not as great as often portrayed.
Nor is silicone pure and natural silica, which also comes from quartz. To make the resin, it is mixed with other materials, including fossil fuel-derived hydrocarbons.
Thus, while they are not considered to leech anything into food, there is the outside chance it could do so in extreme circumstances.
Silicone ice cube trays cost less than stainless steel, weigh less, are incredibly flexible (sometimes too much). However, they sometimes stain and absorb odors.
- No leaching toxins in normal use
- Not as expensive as stainless steel
- Easy to pop out cubes
- Won’t feel very cold to the touch
- We’re running out of sand
- Not as natural as some claim
- Can absorb odors
- Can stain
- Sometimes is too floppy, slopping water when trying to place in the freezer
Stainless steel and silicone ice trays are a more eco-friendly alternative than plastic. Even better are companies such as Ecozoi that are paying attention to their packaging and aiming for zero waste.
But your most environmentally friendly option is using what you already own, even if that means repurposing an egg tray or using a plastic ice cube tray you already have. But still, if you have to buy, it’s nice to have non-plastic options.