When you want a cool drink without diluting it, stainless steel ice cubes are an ideal solution. While they may look similar to traditional ice cubes, they don’t function exactly the same.
If you’re going to use stainless steel ice cubes, there are some things you should know. How do you use stainless steel ice cubes to keep drinks cold?
Begin by chilling your stainless steel cubes in the freezer for four or more hours. Gently place the cubes in an empty glass, pour your drink solution over them and lightly stir the glass to chill your drink. Wash the cubes when finished and place them back in the freezer for future use.
You want to use the stainless steel ice cubes properly to effectively cool your drinks and to avoid contamination with future uses.
Follow the guide below for in-depth directions on how to use stainless steel ice cubes properly. Learn the steps well for chilled drinks without any contamination.
Stainless Steel Ice Cubes Don’t Cool For as Long as Ice
Stainless steel ice cubes cool drinks rapidly, but they won’t cool for as long as regular ice cubes. This is because water ice requires significantly more energy to heat up than cold metal does. This is because metal is a good conductor and doesn't have as much heat capacity per volume compared to water.
In fact, popular stainless steel ice cubes actually aren't completely stainless steel. They just have a stainless steel exterior and contain water inside to deliver a longer cooling effect than solid steel can.
If the cubes were solid steel they would not keep drinks cold for very long. Learn exactly how long stainless steel keeps drinks cold.
Stainless steel ice cubes are only partially full of water and tend to contain about half the volume of water as a regular ice cube of the same size would. This makes them approximately half as effective as regular ice cubes at keeping drinks cold.
Stainless steel cubes deliver less cooling power than a similar-sized ice cube, so you must use more of them for the same cooling performance as ice.
Keep this difference in mind when using stainless steel ice cubes to achieve sufficient cooling results.
Learn more about what happens when traditional ice cubes melt in this guide to fully understand why ice cools for longer than stainless steel does.
Step 1 – Cool the Cubes
Begin by placing your stainless steel ice cubes into the freezer for a minimum of four hours.
Any less than 4 hours and the water inside the stainless steel ice cubes is unlikely to be frozen. Leaving it for longer than 4 hours ensures the cubes get down to the low temperature of your freezer (usually 0ºF/-18ºC) and will keep your drinks colder for longer.
Consider storing the cubes in the freezer, so they’re ready whenever you want a cold drink.
Once the cubes have been cooled for four hours or more, they’re ready for use in a drink. Pull them from the freezer, so they’re ready for use.
Step 2 – Carefully Add To a Drink
Carefully set the cubes down into your empty drinking glass. Fill the glass with several cubes for an effective cool.
Avoid dropping these heavy cubes into your glass from the top, or you could do damage to the glass at the bottom. The heavy cubes can crack glass if dropped too hard.
NOTE: Only get the cubes out RIGHT when you're about to use them. Because stainless steel is a conductor of heat if you get them out too early they will warm up fairly quickly.
Step 3 – Pour in the Drink
Pour your drink down over the top of the cubes in your glass to start chilling it.
Add in whatever you want cooled being careful to avoid overfilling to glass.
NOTE: You can pour the drink first and then add the stainless steel ice cubes afterwards but this can lead to overflowing if you aren't careful.
Plus the action of pouring the drink over the cold ice cubes helps the drink to cool faster.
Step 4 – Stir Regularly
Unlike standard ice cubes that float, stainless steel cubes sit at the bottom of the glass. Since the warmest water remains at the top of your glass, you must stir your drink for the metal cubes to cool it effectively.
Use a straw or stir stick to mix around your drink slowly to cool it off effectively. Failure to mix up your drink will result in uneven cooling that leaves the liquid up top warmer than the rest.
Step 5 – Wash and Rinse
Once you’ve finished your drink, your cubes are likely warm and ready to go back into the freezer for chilling.
Place them in the sink and hand wash them with soap and water to keep them clean for next time. Rinse the cubes completely to avoid adding soap to your drink.
You can also place your stainless steel ice cubes in the dishwasher to clean them before re-freezing them.
Step 6 – Return To the Freezer
Place the clean steel cubes back into the freezer to prepare them for their next use.
Store your cubes in the freezer whenever you aren’t using them, and you’ll always have ice-cold cubes ready to use.
Ideally you want to store your stainless steel ice cubes in a plastic bag or some sort of container. This will stop the odors and flavors from your fridge/freezer getting on the outside of your stainless steel ice cubes and making your ice taste like garlic or other bad things.
Do Stainless Steel Ice Cubes Work?
Basic ice cubes are used much more frequently than stainless steel ice cubes. This can leave you wondering why stainless steel ice cubes aren’t used more often and if the cubes work?
Stainless steel ice cubes work to effectively cool drinks down, but the drinks must be stirred for even cooling as stainless steel ice cubes sink to the bottom. Stainless steel cubes won’t cool for as long as solid ice, but they will cool without diluting your drink as ice does.
Stainless steel ice cubes are an excellent alternative to solid ice when you want to cool a drink without diluting it. Just be aware that these metallic cubes won’t last as long as regular ice does.
If the ice cubes are made from pure stainless steel they will hardly work at all to keep your drink cold. This is because stainless steel is a great conductor of heat and doesn't have a large heat capacity.
Water on the other hand has some of the highest heat capacity and thus most stainless steel ice cubes actually have a stainless steel shell with water inside.
If you decide to stick with traditional ice cubes read this article on making the best tasting ice cubes to avoid ruining the flavor of your drink.
Are Stainless Steel Ice Cubes Healthy?
Before you begin using stainless steel ice cubes in your drinks, you’re probably wondering if they’re healthy for use. Some metals are unhealthy for food and drinks to contact. Is this the case for stainless steel?
Stainless steel ice cubes are healthy and can be used over an extended period without any health concerns. The cubes are safe to add to drinks regularly, and they come clean reliably with soap and water.
The cubes can also be placed in a dishwasher for effective sterilization.
If you’re concerned about your health, you can confidently utilize stainless steel ice cubes in your drinks. I did A LOT of research into stainless steel and whether it is healthy when I bought my first Hydro Flask stainless steel water bottle.
You can read my article on whether or not stainless steel is safe or causes cancer for the full breakdown of the research papers and results that I found.
But long story short stainless steel is generally seen as a healthy substance and while it may add tiny bits of chromium, nickel or iron into your drink this usually occurs more at high temperatures and even if it does it doesn't appear to be unhealthy to consume in small quantities.
Why are Ice Cubes Stainless Steel?
When standard ice cubes work so well to chill drinks, you might be left wondering why anyone would bother with stainless steel ice cubes. And why are metal cubes made from stainless steel and not another material?
Ice cubes are formed from stainless steel because the metal has a better heat capacity than other metals to cool your drink longer and it is extremely safe to use in drinks. Stainless steel is also selected over other metals because it’s safe for culinary use, it’s durable, unlikely to rust and it can be cleaned effectively.
Stainless steel is also an affordable metal and widely available, making it easy for companies to make stainless steel ice cubes.
They look interesting in drinks and don't tend to crack or damage during temperature changes like that ice cubes have to endure.
When compared to other metals, it makes sense to make ice cubes from stainless steel. The metal is one of the best alternatives to regular old ice.
How Do You Clean Stainless Steel Ice Cubes?
If you’ve just started using stainless steel ice cubes, you must clean them regularly to avoid issues with bacteria or weird flavors over time. If it’s your first time, it’s natural to wonder how you clean stainless steel ice cubes.
Clean stainless steel ice cubes by hand washing them with soap and water and rinsing them thoroughly. The cubes can also be placed in a dishwasher and cleaned with a regular wash cycle with good results.
Maintaining stainless steel ice cubes is as simple as washing regular dishes. When you understand how to clean the cubes effectively, you can use them safely over time.
Even though stainless steel ice cubes look similar to standard ice, they have a different weight and consistency and must be used differently.
Once you learn to use these metallic cubes properly, you’ll enjoy cold drinks that won’t become watered down over time.
If you would prefer to use standard ice cubes, but don’t like the plastic ice cube trays, learn about these stainless steel ice cube tray options for a more durable ice-making alternative.