Ice cube trays
June 27, 2012 9:56 AM   Subscribe

I have two ice cube trays, identical in every way. Except! The ice cubes come out perfectly from one, but shatter into pieces from the other. Why? Can I fix it?

These are ordinary cheap plastic ice cube trays. When I twist the good one, the cubes all pop out cleanly. When I twist the other one, the cubes break apart and send small pieces everywhere.

There's no difference between the trays - same material, same age. They're very consistent: the good one is always good, the bad one is always bad.

What must I do to be saved?
posted by echo target to Science & Nature (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is it possible the "good" one was washed in a sinkful of greasy dishes at some point and has been coated in a thin layer of grease?
posted by blue t-shirt at 9:58 AM on June 27, 2012

Do you fill one up differently? Are they stacked? Did you mark them to make SURE they are always the same? Have you put them thru the dishwasher?
posted by bensherman at 9:58 AM on June 27, 2012

How do you fill and freeze these guys? Are they always in the same orientation in the freezer? If one is closer to the back, or closer to the side, or always on top if you stack them, it'll freeze faster. The faster it freezes, the more brittle it will be.

Mix things up, see if it changes.
posted by phunniemee at 9:59 AM on June 27, 2012

Response by poster: I stack them in the freezer but I'm not consistent about which one's on top. I fill them with cold tap water. One of them has a slight mark on the corner, so I'm sure I'm not mixing up one tray with another.
posted by echo target at 10:02 AM on June 27, 2012

Float the bad one in a pool of room temp/coolish water before you tap/twist them out?
posted by MangyCarface at 10:12 AM on June 27, 2012

Next time you empty it, let the "bad" tray sit on the counter until it warms up to room temperature. Wipe the inside thoroughly with a clean paper towel; make sure it's bone dry before you fill it. It should be back to good again.

I'm not sure why this works, but my pet theory is that it's much like tempering chocolate--if you start with a bad "seed" crystal it'll throw the whole thing off. That is probably more voodoo than science, however.
posted by Freon at 10:27 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

ordinary cheap plastic ice cube trays

Buy two more trays. Freeze all four trays and half of them should work out.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:57 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

I suggest you toss both out and buy some of these. They are the best ice cube trays I've ever had. They have little channels between the holes so you can fill them up evenly easily. The lids make stacking them a breeze. Curved bottoms to the holes make the cubes slide out easily when you twist them.

They're $9.00 at Amazon, but I'm pretty sure I got them on sale at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for about $5 each.
posted by bswinburn at 11:21 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sounds like you probably have variations in the surface finish between these two trays. The "good" one is likely to be smoother, but at a microscopic level, so that you wouldn't really be able to tell the difference by looking at it. The injection molding tool for the "bad" one may have been older and more worn, resulting in a rougher surface. That surface will not release the ice as easily as the "good" tray.
posted by blurker at 9:08 PM on June 27, 2012

I had this same effect in my freezer, but without a mark to tell the trays apart. I stack my trays in a spot that's just exactly one trays'-width next to the side of the freezer. I finally figured out that the ice comes out more cleanly from the tray on top of the stack. But I can use this to my advantage. I keep a bucket of ice cubes in the freezer near the trays. When the top tray is frozen I empty it into the bucket, refill it with water, and stack it under the other tray. When it's time to refill the ice bucket, the now-on-top tray (whose ice would have been brittle earlier) now empties cleanly, and I refill it onto the bottom of the stack.

(This is the opposite of phunnimee's statement that the tray on top will have more brittle ice, but consistent with MangyCarFace's advice to warm the sticky tray before removing the ice. My thought is that the heat released by the ice forming on the bottom of the stack warms the upper tray.)
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 6:37 AM on July 4, 2012

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