The normal way of making ice cubes usually takes around 3-4 hours to complete. Whereas that is fine under normal circumstances, sometimes you need plenty of ice cubes urgently.
Many good occasions have gone wrong simply because the organizers ran out of ice cubes, and you don't want that to be you. Luckily for you there are a variety of ways to make ice freeze faster.
The best way to freeze ice faster is to start with cold water (instead of room temperature water) and turn down your freezer to its lowest setting and place your ice cube trays at the back. Metal ice cube trays and trays that make small ice cubes will freeze ice faster. For super fast freezing use dry ice by placing dry ice directly on top of ice cube trays.
There are actually a bunch of different ways you can make ice freeze faster and you can combine multiple solutions in order to freeze ice as quickly as possible and make as much ice as you need.
1. Use An Ice Maker
If you're looking to make a lot of ice quickly, or you want to make ice cubes on demand as quickly as possible then nothing is really going to beat a dedicated ice maker.
Instead of taking 3-4 hours to make ice cubes these machines will start making ice cubes in as little as 10-20 minutes and they'll also make larger quantities of ice faster compared to your freezer.
The Opal Nugget Ice Maker starts making ice cubes in as little as 10-15 minutes and some other machines work even faster.
This is because they use a different method to freeze ice. Instead of water being frozen through contact with the cold air, like in a freezer, ice makers run water over extremely cold metal plates which begin to freeze the ice instantly.
Nugget ice makers then scrape this ice and compress the flaked ice into nugget shaped ice cubes while other ice makers just release the ice once it is made.
You can transfer the ice cubes to your freezer for storage in zip lock bags later use otherwise your ice will melt and stick together in your ice maker as the storage bins usually aren't refrigerated (unless you buy an extremely high-quality and expensive under counter ice maker).
The Opal Nugget Ice Maker is one of the best home ice makers on the market. It makes 24 pounds of ice per day and can store up to 3 pounds of ice in its storage bin.
The GE Opal Nugget Ice Maker version 2.0 produces up to 24 lbs of chewy nugget ice per day. Features built in WiFi and voice control and new LED display screen this is the most popular nugget ice maker on the market.
2. Use Cold Water
In order for water to turn into ice it needs to lower in temperature down to 32ºF/0ºC where it will start to freeze.
It takes more energy (and time) to cool water down from room temperature to freezing than from fridge temperature to freezing. So a faster way to freeze ice is to start with cold water from the fridge.
Room temperature water might sit at around 60-70ºF/16-21ºC whereas water from the fridge will be only 39ºF/4ºC. In your freezer this will quickly reach freezing temperatures and begin to freeze.
3. Use Distilled Water
Pure distilled water will actually freeze slightly faster than hard water that contains dissolved minerals and other impurities.
If you want to make clear ice fast then you almost definitely should start with distilled water. While distilled water doesn't make clear ice by itself it contains less dissolved gasses and minerals so it'll make clear ice easier to make fast.
What’s more, using distilled water gives you clearer ice with a better taste and means you won't have any white residue on your ice cube trays from mineral deposits.
One of the more affordable water distillers this 750W machine can distill 6 gal/22.7L per day to remove dissolved solids, VOCs and other impurities from your water.
Made from 304 stainless steel (including internal tank) and a BPA free plastic water collection container.
4. Use Metal Ice Cube Trays
Metal ice cube trays will freeze ice faster than plastic or silicone ice cube trays because the heat can more easily transfer through the metal freezing the ice cubes from all sides.
I also like metal trays over plastic and silicone trays as they are a great safe and eco-friendly option that won't impart chemicals into your ice cubes.
They are a bit more expensive but the Vintage Kitchen 2-Pack (at Amazon) offers 2 metal ice cube trays for what it would usually cost for just 1 tray.
These vintage style metal ice cube trays feature a lever-style handle that cracks the ice in a single action. Made from 18/8 kitchen grade stainless steel this brand of durable ice cube trays are around half the price of other metal ice cube trays.
5. Place Your Tray At The Cooling Outlet
The freezer is coldest at the opening of the cooling outlet, this is usually at the back of the freezer. You'll usually see an opening where the cold air can blow through.
Placing your ice trays at the back exposes the water to direct contact with the coming cold currents and will cause the ice to freeze faster.
That technique makes your water cool faster than any other area in the freezer. Close the freezer door and keep it closed to freeze the ice as quickly as possible.
6. Reduce Your Freezer Temperature
If you're trying to freeze ice fast you'll want to turn your freezer down to it's colder temperature.
The colder the air in the freezer the quicker the water will come down to temperature and freeze. So make sure you tweak this setting and make it as low as possible.
Just remember after you have done you might want to raise the temperature up again otherwise you might end up with extremely hard ice cream that is difficult to scoop.
7. Make Smaller Ice Cubes
Larger cubes last longer at open room temperature, which is good, but they also take longer to freeze. The larger the ice cube the longer it will take.
This also means smaller ice cubes tend to freeze A LOT faster than large ice cubes allowing you to make a lot more ice faster.
You can get mini nugget ice cube trays and they are a great way to make nugget ice at home. They also tend to freeze in as little as 1-2 hours instead of 3-4 hours. They can freeze even faster if you follow all the tips in this article.
As a bonus, kids absolutely love these ice cubes as they are easy to eat and are less likely to damage your teeth like large ice cubes can.
These mini ice cube trays make 160 cubes of nugget ice each. Made from 100% food grade silicone these trays and BPA and great for kids drinks of cocktails.
Pack also comes with a ice bin for storing ice cubes and a plastic scoop for serving.
8. Increase The Cube's Surface Area
The wider the surface area of the ice exposed to the freezer the faster the ice will freeze.
Shallow ice cube trays with a wide top surface area will freeze ice faster than ice cube trays with a narrower top and deeper ice cubes.
Deeper containers have a small opening at the top, which exposes a small water surface directly to the cold currents.
9. Make Thinner Ice Cubes (Don't Fill Your Tray Completely)
You can freeze ice cubes faster by making thinner ice cubes and not filling up your tray completely.
If you don't have nugget ice cube trays then you can make smaller ice cubes which freeze faster simply by putting a little bit of water in your ice cube trays.
These can freeze in as little as 1-2 hours (or less if you use cold water from the fridge) and then you can empty them and refill to make multiple ice cubes.
10. Use Dry Ice
One of the fastest ways to turn water into ice is to put it directly near or in contact with dry ice.
Dry ice is incredibly cold and at -109.2ºF/-78.5ºC it'll quickly freeze any water and turn it into ice.
Many local stores like Walmart sell dry ice and it isn't too expensive. Or you can even make dry ice yourself if you have the right ingredients.
But if I'm honest this is an expensive way to buy ice and you may as well just buy pre-made ice if you're going to buy dry ice to make ice. Still it does work (and so does liquid nitrogen).
To do this place your ice cube tray directly on top of a block of dry ice. Then place another block of dry ice directly on the ice cube tray to freeze the ice from both directions.
It should only take a minute of so for the ice to completely freeze, maybe even less.
11. Fan Your Freezer
A fan creates cold air currents that cool your body in hot conditions. Similarly, it has the same effect when you place it in a fridge to condense the water into ice.
You can get a small fan and place it inside your freezer and close the door. Have the fan blowing directly at your ice cube tray to freeze it as fast as possible.
The downside of this is it can be challenging to find a fan small enough to fit in your freezer and close the door. But some battery operated ones will work well.
12. Place Tray A Freezer Filled With Already Frozen Food
If you freezer is full of items that are already frozen then these items will keep the freezer at a lower temperature with less effort, allowing your ice to freeze faster.
For best results place your ice cube tray directly up against already frozen items so some of the cold can transfer to your ice cubes and freeze them faster.
13. Go And Buy It
If you've totally run out of time, the easiest way is to visit your local ice manufacturer and purchase some.
Most of these outlets have clear ice and in large quantities or you can go to your local supermarket or gas station to buy regular ice. Click here to learn where to buy high-quality clear ice.
14. Try The Salt Water Method
The salt water method is a way of taking regular ice and use it to create a smaller batch of clear ice.
It won't increase your ice supply but it can give you crystal clear ice which is great for cocktails.
To do this fill a large container with ice and have a smaller metal one on top with near freezing water in it. Pour salt on the ice in the outside container (which will cause it's temperature to drop).
The ice in the inner container should now freeze from the bottom up and this will push out impurities and make the ice clear. It's not the easiest way to make clear ice but it does work.