Whether it's for an ice bath, a cooler, a party of even just some drinks after a long day at work – sometimes you need ice quickly and you need a lot of it.
When you don't have ice on hand and ready what are some of the ways you can make a lot of ice at home quickly and easily?
Keep reading on to find out the different ways you can make your ice cubes at home in bulk as quickly as possible.
How Long Does It Take to Make Ice In An Ice Cube Tray?
If you put water in an ice cube tray and just place it in the freezer how long does it normally take to freeze?
It usually takes around 3-4 hours for ice cubes to completely freeze in a freezer. Smaller cubes freeze faster than larger cubes and the colder the water starts and the colder the freezer the faster the ice will freeze. Metal ice cube trays tend to freeze ice faster than plastic ones.
The ice cubes will freeze from the outside first and still be liquid on the inside but as time goes on the entire cube will freeze. Once the ice cube freezes completely it can take another couple of hours to get down to it's lowest temperature – this is usually around 0ºF/-18ºC in a home freezer.
12 Ways To Quickly Make Ice At Home In Bulk Quantities
If you don't want to wait 3-4 hours for a single tray of ice to be made before you empty it and then make a second tray consider some of the following ways to make ice in larger quantities more quickly.
I've also written an article on the 11 proven ways to make ice cubes as fast as possible which is worth a read. Combine those tips with these ones and you'll be pumping out quicker than an ice making factory.
1. Use an Ice Maker
An ice maker is one of the fastest ways to begin making ice but also one of the quickest ways to make a lot of ice quickly.
The GE Opal Nugget Ice Maker begins making ice in just 15 minutes (much faster than the 3-4 hours of a regular ice tray in your freezer) and it'll make 1 pound of ice per hour or up to 24 pounds of ice per day.
This option is your easiest and best bet to make ice fast at home.
If you already have an ice maker then you’re all set. If you don’t have one, and you use ice cubes frequently, you might consider purchasing one.
See the latest price of the GE Opal Nugget Ice Maker at Amazon
(or compare to the price of the GE Opal Nugget Ice Maker at Walmart)
The Opal Nugget Ice Maker is expensive, but many feel it's worth the money for the delicious small chewable nugget ice. But if you don't want to drop $500-$600 on an Opal then there are a lot of other affordable ice makers at Amazon that cost around the $100 mark and make just as much ice per hour as the Opal.
Ice makers usually have a small ice basket that can hold around 1-3 pounds of ice at a time so if you want to make the full 24-26 pounds a day you'll need to regularly empty the basket and transfer it into your freezer for storage.
One of the best ways to store ice in your freezer is in ziplock bags or tupperware containers. This way they won't stick together or absorb the odors in your fridge/freezer and you'll have bulk ice on demand when you need it.
2. Freeze Water Quickly With Dry Ice
Dry ice is much colder than your freezer at home. At -109.3ºF/-78.5ºC it'll bring water down to freezing temperature extremely quickly and make ice cubes in as little as 15 minutes.
To make ice cubes as quickly as possible get dry ice and put it in a cooler (make sure you have a dry ice compatible cooler). Place a base layer of dry ice on the bottom of the cooler then place your ice cube trays on top.
Then place more dry ice above your ice cube trays. Remember cold air sinks so if you only have enough dry ice for one layer then put it above the ice cubes.
Close the cooler lid and leave for 15-20 minutes and check on the ice. It should be frozen solid. If not leave for another 15-20 minutes and check again.
Remove from the ice cubes from the trays and place in your freezer for storage. Then refill the ice cube trays and repeat.
The downside of this method is you need to have access to dry ice or you need to buy dry ice. The price of dry ice is more expensive than regular ice, so if you're buying dry ice to make ice cubes you may as well just buy some ice cubes.
3. Use Refrigerated Water
Rather than using room temperature water directly from the tap use water from your fridge to fill up your ice cube trays.
A fridge is usually kept around 39ºF/4ºC vs room temperature water which is likely at least 68ºF/20ºC.
Cold water will freeze faster as it takes less time to reach freezing temperature and thus it'll turn into ice much faster than room temperature water.
4. Use Stackable Ice Cube Trays
Stackable ice cube trays allow you to fit more trays into the freezer at once while taking up less space.
With multiple trays in your freezer you can make large quantities of ice in just 3-4 hours. Especially if you fill each tray up with refrigerated water like we talked about above.
Click here to see my list of the best stackable ice cube trays. Some of them are very affordable so you can buy lots of them to make lots of ice while others are more premium.
Some of the cheapest and best stackable ice cube trays are the Rubbermaid ones. They are easy release ice cube trays so it's super easy to get the ice out and they stack great so you can add multiple layers. They are also super affordable so you can buy them in bulk.
See the latest price of Rubbermaid Ice Tray at Amazon
5. Smaller Ice Cubes Freeze Faster
Smaller ice cubes freeze A LOT faster than larger ice cubes. In fact, rather than taking 2-4 hours to freeze these small ice cubes can freeze in as little as 1-2 hours – meaning you can make a lot of ice fairly quickly.
The great thing about smaller ice cube trays is that it makes soft chewable ice that is great for soft drinks and other beverages.
For my kids this is their absolute favorite type of ice. They can't get enough of it.
There are some good silicone trays for making nugget ice that are very affordable and while not technically “stackable” you can stack them on top of each other to make more ice faster.
See the latest price of the Silicone Mini Ice Cube Tray at Amazon
6. Turn Your Freezer Down To The Lowest Temperature
The colder your freezer is the faster your water will turn into ice cubes.
Sometimes having a super cold freezer isn't ideal as it can make your ice cream difficult to serve and can affect other foods too. But if you're trying to make a lot of ice as quickly as possible then it's worth turning it down at least in the short term.
Also make sure to put your ice cube trays towards the back of the freezer as this is the coldest spot so they'll freeze faster in this location.
7. Create Your Own Ice Maker Like This Guy Did
Rather than buying an ice machine and spending $500-$600 you can DIY your own ice maker at home
If you like what he's done here there are 2 followup videos he made talking more about this ice machine he made and he even added a second ice maker to make ice twice as quickly.
This ice maker makes around 50 lbs of ice per week. Not quite as much ice as a dedicated ice maker that can make 24-26 lbs per day (nearly 200 lbs per week). But it's a great way to always have ice on demand.
Here's his first follow up video where he talks about how the machine is going and answers some common questions:
He also then took everything he learned from the first ice maker to make a second ice maker that was improved and fixed some of the problems of the first one.
8. Make Blocks Of Ice Then Cut Them Up
While it may not be as fast as making tiny ice cubes making large blocks of ice is a convenient way to make a lot of ice quickly in a small amount of space and for little to no cost.
You can use a small cooler like I have to make some clear ice or you can use things like buckets, tupperware containers or even milk jugs or balloons to make large blocks of ice.
You can then cut up this ice to use in drinks or you can leave it in big blocks if you're using the ice to keep a cooler cold.
Click here to learn the easiest ways to make block ice at home
9. Use Ziploc bags
If you don’t mind what shape your ice is you can use a Ziploc bag, or two or three, to make plenty of ice for the party. As you know, Ziploc bags come in numerous sizes so it’s completely up to you how much ice you want to make.
Simply fill the Ziploc bag three-quarters of the way to the top, lay it flat in the freezer, preferably in a tray in case of spillage, and wait for the water to freeze.
It may still take up to four hours which isn’t ideal, but it’s cheaper, and once it’s ready you can break it up easily with a knife.
10. Use Hot Water
You’re probably wondering how hot water can help you to make ice cubes fast. If you haven’t heard of the Mpemba effect, I highly recommend looking it up.
Basically, a school student in the 1960s named Erasto Mpemba claimed bravely claimed to his classmates that ice cream would freeze faster if it was heated before being put in the freezer. It turns out his theory was right.
There is no scientific explanation as to why this hypothesis worked but there are many theories and there have been numerous other trials to prove that it works.
Here are some of the theories:
- The water evaporates faster so there is less water volume to freeze
- Hot water contains less carbon dioxide, so the water freezes quicker with fewer gases
- Through a state of “supercooling” as noted by radiation officer James Brownridge, at the State University of New York.
- Currents and temperature gradients create a faster freezing rate
If none of these above theories make sense to you, that’s okay. All you need to know is that hot water will freeze quicker than cold water so if you want ice in two hours instead of four, use hot water in your ice trays and tubs.
11. Use Metal Ice Cube Trays
Metal ice cube trays will freeze ice faster than plastic or silicone ice cube trays because the heat and cold can transfer through the metal easier than plastic allowing the ice cube to freeze faster from all sides.
The good thing about these is they are plastic free and eco-friendly ice cube trays and they are made from completely recyclable stainless steel.
There are a few different metal ice cube trays and the EcoZoi brand even has a dual pack with a stand that allows you to stack multiple trays so you can fit more in your freezer.
See the latest price of the Ecozoi Dual Pack with Stand at Amazon
12. Use Aluminum Cake Patties
The below video shows a super quick and convenient way to make ice cubes in as little as 15-20 minutes.
Simply use a metal pan with aluminum cake patties. Spread them out and fill them up with water and place in your freezer and they'll freeze super quickly.