There is nothing worse than throwing a party and checking your ice stock, only to see that it has formed a hard, icy clump…or even worse disappeared altogether leaving you with a giant puddle of lukewarm water!
If you're going to invest money into bagged ice, whether it be for a party, a camping trip or to use at home, you want to make sure you store it properly so it's ready to use when you need it. There are ways you can store bagged ice to help it last longer and to stop it from sticking together.
The 7 best ways to store bagged ice to stop it from sticking together include the following:
- Transfer Ice To Smaller Bags
- Transfer Ice To A Tupper Container
- Place Ice In A Plastic Bag
- Break Ice Up – Then Leave It In The Bag
- Make Your Freezer Colder
- Spread The Ice Out
- Place Ice In A High-End Cooler
Stopping your bagged ice cubes from sticking together will save your parties in the future! Keep reading with us as we find out the seven best ways to store your bagged ice to stop them from sticking together!
Why Does Bagged Ice Stick Together?
Not everybody knows that all ice cubes have an extremely thin layer of water on their outside. This layer is in equilibrium with the ice with some molecules freezing and others melting. However, the warmer the ice the thicker this layer becomes. (More on what happens as ice melts)
Bagged ice will stick together when it is not cold enough because each of the ice cubes slightly melts and the refreezes often fuzing to the cubes next to them.
Also bags of ice are extremely heavy and the weight of the ice cubes on the top pushing down on the ice cubes on the bottom increases the pressure and causes the cubes towards the bottom to melt more. You can see the science behind it in the video below or read about how to keep bagged ice from freezing together.
This is why bagged ice closer to the bottom of a pile will be much more fused together than the bags of ice near the top part of the pile!
So once you've collected your ice how do you store it so it doesn't become one big lump?
1. Transfer To Smaller Bags
You know the type of bag your mom used for all your school lunches? If you don't have these bags at home, you can buy them the next time you visit the grocery store!
It doesn't matter whether you have an ice machine, use ice cube trays, or in this case, make use of bagged ice. You can quickly transfer your ice cubes to smaller but still big enough plastic or paper bags.
This is one of the best way to store ice cubes in a freezer as the more manageable sizes make it less likely the ice cubes will stick together and they are easier to break apart if they do stick together. They also keep out bad smells and tastes from your freezer which can cause your ice to taste terrible even if the water is good.
When all your ice is in the bag, close it and store it in your freezer. Without them sticking together, take out the ice cubes as you need them!
People using the paper bag method declare that the paper absorbs extra moisture around the ice cubes, unlike plastic.
When the excess water is minimized, it will lessen the chance of your ice cubes sticking together!
2. Transfer To Tupperware Container
If you're in a rush and have already noticed your ice cubes are sticking together, don't worry!
You can transport your ice from your freezer into a Tupperware container, or at least one of those thermo-insulated grocery bags, in order to prevent melting. This is a really clever ice cube hack and a great way to store ice cubes for a long period of time but not have them take up too much space in your freezer. You can stack the tupperware neatly and just get them out as you need them.
Simply toss the rest in your freezer and close the door right away, so the freezer won't have any time to rise in temperature.
This should prevent your ice from melting further once it's inside your freezer!
3. Make Your Freezer Colder
The colder the conditions are in which you store your ice cubes, the thinner the external layer of water will be. Less refreezing and melting will mean that your ice cube will be less likely to stick together.
After breaking apart your newly bought bag of ice, you can place it in the coldest part of your freezer – this is usually toward the back of the freezer nearest to the air vents.
Avoid placing your ice cubes near your freezer door, where they will be exposed to warmer temperatures every time you open the door.
Also, make sure that your freezer is turned down to its coldest setting. Lower temperatures also helps stop ice sticking together in an ice maker, if it works for that it'll work for your bagged ice too.
4. Leave In The Plastic Bag – But Don't Stack Anything On Top Of It
When you buy the ice from your local store it'll likely be frozen together due to lower temperatures of the freezer as well as the weight/pressure from all the other bags of ice.
Ice purchased from a service station or supermarket is usually kept at 15ºF (-9ºC) whereas your freezer at home is often colder at around 0ºF (-18ºC). The colder the freezer the less likely the ice is going to be stuck together.
This means when you buy your ice it's almost certainly going to be all fuzed together. Break it up by throwing the bag of ice against the floor a few times and then put it in the freezer.
Make sure not to stack things on top of the bags as this will cause them to fuze back together. Also, over time the ice will fuze together. Try breaking it up regularly to avoid it becoming one big clump.
5. Rotate The Bag Regularly
If you're storing your ice cubes in your freezer, you should rotate the ice every time you have used it outside of the freezer.
Ensure that you rotate the bottom, not only the top layer of your ice cubes, to prevent the ice at the bottom from freezing and sticking together.
This is especially applicable to those who are looking for a solution for their ice cubes fusing in an ice maker's freezer as well.
By rotating the ice cubes every day, you will lessen the chances of them getting too stuck together, and you will have to throw them out
6. Store The Ice Flat
As already mentioned the more weight put on the ice from above the more pressure the ice on the bottom will be under.
Pressure actually causes ice to melt and then when the pressure is removed (when you take some ice out or grab the bag out of the freezer) the ice instantly refreezes back together, usually forming a large clump.
By spreading the ice out flat in the bag (or in separate bags) it's much less likely to stick together and much easier to break apart if it does stick together.
7. Store In A High-End Cooler
You can place your ice cubes in a high-end cooler to keep them from melting when you don't have access to a freezer.
The ice cubes will usually melt down a little without sticking together, keeping your food cold but also being available for drinks if you need them.
A high end cooler like Yeti can keep ice as long as 3-7 days and some of the best coolers for ice retention can keep ice for even longer than that in the right conditions. Just make sure to pre-chill your cooler first to ensure it works as effectively as possible.
Then, you can transport the ice back to your freezer. Before putting the cubes back into your freezer, try to drain any melted water by draining the container.
Now that you are aware of the seven best ways to store your ice without it sticking together, you won't ever have to stress when you're hosting a party, and you can let all your friends know about these surprising but effective tricks!