Nugget ice and soft ice seems to be becoming increasingly popular for it's delicious chewy nature and the fact that it absorbs the flavors of the drink it's in.
I remember as a kid always being told not to eat ice as it can damage my teeth. But with soft ice you can enjoy chewing your ice without having to worry as much about it hurting your teeth.
But how do you make soft ice? Well there are lots of different methods that all work (some better than others).
There are many ways to make soft ice, including using carbonated water, using a nugget machine, using a water bottle to make instant soft ice, putting sugar in the water, using soda to get sweet and soft ice, using a soft nugget ice tray, using a blender or manually smashing the ice up and more.
I was on the hunt to get the best ways to make soft ice. After doing a lot of research, I found so many ways to make soft ice I decided to try them all.
Each of the items below I've tried at some point in my life. So I wanted to share the 12 genius ways I found to make super soft ice.
What Exactly Is Soft Ice and How Is It Made?
On a hot summer’s day, the last thing anyone wants is to chip a tooth on rock-hard ice.
When ice is created, there might be white areas in the middle of the ice. This is because the water starts to get colder and forms ice from the outside and moves it's way inwards. As this happens the bubbles in the water get pushed into the center where they get stuck and are frozen that way.
These bubbly areas are less dense than clear ice, making them easier to chew. If you want to chew the ice then cloudy ice is much better than clear ice.
When you're trying to make soft ice you're basically trying to make the cloudiest and chewiest ice possible. The more air bubbles you can introduce into the ice the softer it will be.
There are also a couple of other ways to make ice softer which we will discuss in some of the 12 ways to make it.
Below you will find 12 of the best ways to make soft ice. Most of the ways we mention are easy and won’t take too much effort.
1. Use Carbonated Water
One of the easiest and best-tasting ways to make soft ice is to use carbonated water. This water isn't flavored in any water, it's just regular water that is carbonated.
You need a fresh unopened bottle of carbonated water, as stale or flat carbonated water won’t give you soft ice. You can also use a soda stream to create this carbonated water if you've got access to one.
You fill the ice cube tray halfway with carbonated water for small soft cubes.
Just don't do what I did and fill the ice cube tray all the way to the top as the ice cubes will expand a lot as the CO2 tries to escape.
Believe it or not you can't make carbonated ice that is still fizzy, all the CO2 escapes in the freezing process. However, what this does is it makes very soft ice.
Ensure that the ice cube trays are placed evenly, or you will have odd-shaped soft ice. Leave in the fridge for at least six hours. Your soft ice will be white. If you press on the back of the tray and the ice cracks, leave it in the fridge for a bit longer.
2. Get A Nugget Ice Machine
You can use a nugget ice machine to make soft ice. These nugget ice machines work in a fascinating way to create small soft pellets of ice that are perfect for chewing.
They work by pumping the water into a cylinder with freezing walls. The water freezes and is scraped off of the walls and turned into flaked ice. It’s pushed upwards; the ice is then compressed into nugget-sized pieces.
Because these ice cubes are small and they are made from compressed flaked ice they have a lot of air gaps are are extremely soft and easy to chew.
While many people think a nugget ice maker is worth the money one of the major problems of home nugget ice makers is their cost. They are quite expensive to purchase and this holds a lot of people back from buying them.
Still if you can afford it then this will make some of the best soft ice in the world. I recommend the Opal Nugget Ice Maker as the best nugget ice maker for home.
3. Make Instant Soft Ice In A Water Bottle
There is a trend to make soft ice, although the term instant is inaccurate.
You place a bottle of water in the freezer for 1.5 to 3 hours, taking it out JUST before ice crystals begin to form.
What you have is water that is below freezing temperate (32ºF/0ºC) but it hasn't frozen yet because there is no nucleation sites to start the freezing process.
Once you take the bottle out of the freezer hit the bottom of the bottle softly, and quickly ice is formed in the bottle before your eyes. You can also pour the water onto an ice cube and it'll instantly turn to ice.
Not only is this a cool trick but it makes super slushy and soft ice that is great for snow cones.
Making your own soft ice in a water bottle is easy! Read this article to find out how!
You can also watch the video below to see how it's done:
4. Put Sugar In The Water
You can add sugar to the water you freeze into soft ice cubes. Make sure to add sugar to hot water and stir well until all the sugar is dissolved into the water.
The sugar crystals get in the way of the water molecules and stop them forming strong bonds. This depresses the freezing temperature much like the way salt melts ice.
In fact sugar is one of the ways to melt ice without salt if you have icy driveways or paths. It's more gentle on concrete compared to salt, but it also tastes a lot better in soft ice cubes compared to salt.
Be careful not to add too much sugar as the water may struggle to freeze, it'll also make it super sweet and unhealthy.
Water ices are delicious and easy to make. Simply adding some sort of flavoring to the water before you freeze it, will result in an inexpensive treat!
5. Use Soda For Sweet Soft Ice
If you want sweet ice, you can use soda to make soft ice. You only need to follow the same steps as the carbonated water mentioned below, and you will have lovely sweet and soft ice.
Simply fill up your ice cube tray half way with the soda of your choice. In this case I chose coke no sugar.
Make sure you don't fill up the tray fully as the ice cubes expand a lot more than regular ice as they freeze.
Once complete use in your soda and it won't dilute it like ice would or simply put them in a cup and eat them or you can store them in a ziplock bag for a future snack. My kids love these.
6. Use A Small Nugget Ice Tray
Another way to get soft ice is to use a small nugget ice tray. The small nugget ice trays help the ice freeze faster, giving you softer ice.
The ice cubes are extremely small and are white in the middle making them soft and easy to chew. They aren't quite as soft as the nugget ice from a nugget ice machine but they are much cheaper to make and only cost a couple of dollars for the ice cube tray.
I recommend these silicone nugget ice cube trays as they come in a pack of 3 and are extremely affordable. They also make ice very quickly and the ice cubes aren't too hard to pop out.
7. Use An Ice Shaver
An ice shaver uses sharp blades to shave thin slivers of ice from a frozen block on ice. Most ice shavers come with a holder (that you fill with water and freeze) that fits perfectly into a certain compartment where the blades can reach.
As you turn the handle, the blades shave off pieces of soft ice. Some of them are power operated too.
These are great for creating soft ice good for use in snow cones, however after making the flaked ice you can also compress it into larger soft ice cubes using your hands.
I recommend this Hawaiian Ice Shaver (at Amazon) as one of the best and most affordable ice shavers. It does the just and won't break the bank. It's also quite small and easy to store when not in use.
8. Smash It Up Manually
One of the easiest yet labor-intensive ways to get soft ice is to smash the ice up manually.
You can put the ice in a zip lock bag, letting most of the air out of the bag. Smash the ice using a mallet or hammer.
What I like to do is wrap the ice in a tea towel and place it on a chopping board and hit it with a hammer. Just make sure not to hit it too much or the ice turns into such small pieces it either melts or sticks to the tea towel.
You can also get this Lewis Ice Bag and Wooden Mallet (at Amazon) which is an easy, convenient and cost effective way to make crushed ice on demand. No more hunting for a hammer in your tool box or clean tea towel. This is perfect for the job.
9. Crush Your Ice In A Blender
Using a blender is one great way to get soft ice. You only need to remember not to blend the ice too much, or you will have more water than soft ice.
10. Use A Benchtop Soft Ice Maker
You can use a benchtop soft ice maker to make soft ice.
The ice maker has different settings you can choose between large and small ice cubes with the smaller ice cubes being softer.
These ice makers are much more affordable than nugget ice makers and often retails just over $100.
I recommend the Wizisa Countertop Small Ice Maker (at Amazon) as it's very affordable, has very high customer ratings and it can begin making ice in as little as 6 minutes!
11. Fill Your Ice Cube Trays Up A Tiny Amount For Small Soft Ice Cubes
You can use normal ice trays to get soft ice. You only fill the trays halfway or less to get the best consistency that is not too hard.
You will be left with small soft ice cubes just the right size for your needs.
To avoid the ice becoming too hard, you should avoid leaving it in the freezer for longer than 3 hours.
12. Turn Your Freezer To It's Warmest Setting
The last way you can make soft ice is to turn your freezer on its warmest setting. The colder the ice is the harder it will be so ice closer to 32ºF/0ºC will be softer than ice at the normal freezer temperature of 0ºF/-18ºC.
But ensure your food doesn’t defrost when you do this. For the best results for soft ice, try keeping your freezer temperature between 0° and 5°F.
Making soft ice doesn’t have to be complicated. You can follow the links provided above for more detail. Using a blender, smaller ice cube trays, and manually crushing the is some of the easiest ways. If you want less hassle, getting a soft ice maker is the best investment in getting delicious soft ice.