Guide to Commercial Ice Machines


Ice-O-Matic Ice Machine

What Are Commercial Ice Makers?

A commercial ice machine is a piece of equipment that produces and sometimes stores ice for a commercial kitchen. With its attached water source and freezing ice tray mechanism, commercial ice machines are capable of making large amounts of ice cubes quickly throughout a 24-hour period. There are also flake ice machines and nugget ice machines that grind ice into nuggets and flakes for unique applications.

Commercial ice machines are designed to produce high-quality ice. Regular cleaning and water filtration are crucial to maintaining good ice and ensuring a pleasant and consistent taste.

Why Are they Important?

Many restaurants, cafes and cafeterias serve soft drinks and beverages, stock salad bars or blend frozen cocktails. In order to do so, a commercial ice machine is essential. Purchasing the right unit ensures you have the right type of ice for your operation, and never run out of ice during business hours. With the right machine, you can also be sure that you have the best dispensing unit for your needs, be it a simple ice bin and scoop, a single-serve beverage dispenser, or a coin-operated hotel dispenser.

Types of Ice Makers

Choosing the right type of ice is one of the most important considerations when shopping for a commercial ice machine. Different types of ice are designed for different situations in order to maximize profits in unique applications. Using the right ice for the right situations makes for the best customer experience.

Full Cube Ice Machine

Full-Cube Ice

Full Cube Ice
Full cube ice is also called “full dice” ice. It measures 7/8 of an inch all the way around, and resembles a cube in shape.


Full cube ice melts slowly and has a lot of surface area. This helps cool beverages quickly and keeps them cold for long periods of time. Full cube ice also adds visual appeal to drinks like whiskey, scotch and other cocktails.

Ideal Uses

  • Salad Bars
  • Bagged Ice
  • Cocktails
  • Hotel Ice Dispensers

Types of Full Cube Ice Makers

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Half Cube Ice Machine

Half-Cube Ice

Half Cube Ice
Half-cube ice, also referred to as “half-dice” ice, is used in a wide range of applications. Most half cube ice cubes measure 3/8″ x 7/8″ x 7/8″.


With its unique shape, half-cube ice can pack more tightly into a glass, displacing more liquid. This will increase your beverage profits since customers get a lot of ice in relation to the beverage. It also gives customers a super-chilled drink. Half-cube ice also blends more readily than full-size cubes, making it a good choice for blended coffee drinks or smoothies.

Ideal Uses

  • Blended Drinks
  • Iced Coffee
  • Mixed Drinks
  • Soft Drinks
  • Therapeutic Uses

Types of Half Cube Ice Makers

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Nugget Ice

Nugget Ice

Nugget ice is also known as chewable ice, pellet ice, pearl ice or “Sonic” ice. It is soft and chewable; a customer favorite.


Aside from providing customer satisfaction, nugget ice also displaces more liquid than cube or half-cube ice, so operators will see even more beverage profits with this ice. It also blends easily and cools quickly, making it ideal for blended cocktails and smoothies. Nugget ice is great for flavor and color retention in beverages, too. Finally, health care facilities use this type of ice for patient drinks because it is so easy to chew.

Ideal Uses

  • Blended Cocktails
  • Ice Wraps/Therapeutic Use
  • Meat/Seafood Displays
  • Produce Displays
  • Salad Bars
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Flake Ice

Flake Ice

As the name suggests, flake ice consists of small slivers of ice that are flaked off to provide a packable ice perfect for displays. Flake ice packs together well and effectively chills down products on display, from seafood in groceries stores to food in a salad bar.


Molding ice around the product allows more even cooling results. Since flake ice is soft, the product is less likely to scratch or bruise. Flake ice can enhance the visual appeal of product displays while maintaining safe food temperatures.

Ideal Uses

  • Blended Cocktails
  • Carbonated Drinks
  • Health Care Settings
  • Smoothies
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Specialized Ice Makers

The aforementioned ice types are the most common, but there are a handful of specialized ice styles that add a little extra flair to a drink. The majority of these ice types are available in undercounter commercial ice machine units only, and will be placed in the back bar area for use in mixed drinks.

Don’t forget the filtration system!

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  1. I like what you say about purchasing the right type of commercial ice machine so that it ensure you have the right type of ice for your operation. My dad owns a bread and sandwich store and he has to store meats and vegetables. It’s important that he has the right type of ice machine so that food can stay high quality.

  2. My husband and I rent an older house with no ice maker. I never knew how useful they are until I had to go without one. We have a game night every week with our friends, so we are constantly running out of ice for drinks. I’ve been thinking about purchasing a commercial ice machine just so we always have some! Are there any models made to fit on a counter top?

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