How to make the softest, most chewable ice
February 4, 2013 6:08 AM   Subscribe

How do I make the softest, cloudiest, most chewable ice at home?

My boyfriend is a habitual ice-chewer. I know about the health associations like anemia and tooth enamel damage; let's not get into that. He's going to chew it anyway.

Places like Sonic make great ice, according to ice-chewers, and it seems like ice that has the most air bubbles in it makes soft, cloudy, easily-chewed ice rather than super-clear, glassy, fancy bar/restaurant cubes.

What should I do to make this stuff at home? I have ice trays with smaller, rounded-edge cubes rather than big cubes, for starters. I considered:

1. Filling them, freezing half-way, poking at the thinly formed ice to break it up and then letting it refreeze.

2. Filling a larger container with water, freezing partway, shaking, pouring icy mixture into trays, then letting them freeze.

3. Using sparkling water (has more bubbles naturally- maybe that would work?)

I'd love input on which of these methods, or some other method, would likely yield the best results. This is part of his Valentine's Day gift- I'd like to have a whole stockpile of ice already made for him when he comes over next Thursday, so I'd like to start making trays of nice, soft ice sooner than later.

Bonus points for simplest methods, so I can continue to do this on a regular basis.

posted by rachaelfaith to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I believe the Sonic type ice you are referring to is extruded using an expensive (but ultimately more efficient) machine.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:29 AM on February 4, 2013

Not sure if an ice crusher is in your price range, but Google "Sonic + ice" for ice crushers that supposedly fit the bill. There's one by Deni Deni.

Alternately, you can buy bags of ice directly from Sonic, apparently, and it doesn't cost all that much.
posted by wolfgirl at 6:32 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Holy crap, this is a thing. has a discussion of recipies.

The Wall St. Journal has an article about it.

It sounds like the easiest way is what's mentioned in the WSJ article: "Use a glass, not a plastic cup. Let crushed ice fuse in water. Drink the water. Shake the cup to loosen the ice. Dig in."

So after you figure this out, we are expecting a post on ice chewing, mmmkay?
posted by selfmedicating at 6:44 AM on February 4, 2013 [6 favorites]

Your local supermarket's meat counter/butcher probably has one of the same machines as Sonic and will very likely sell you 5-pound bags for even cheaper than Sonic will.
posted by Doleful Creature at 7:22 AM on February 4, 2013

Take a sno-cone machine and make shaved ice. Refreeze shaved ice in ice cube tray for white, semi-solid crunchyness.
posted by anti social order at 7:30 AM on February 4, 2013

Response by poster: Definitely not currently looking for a machine (I rent, and we don't live together) and I would prefer a method that allows me to make the ice at home, though I will look into the Sonic/local store option. The shaved ice idea sounds interesting!
posted by rachaelfaith at 7:38 AM on February 4, 2013

I have no idea if this will work, as I it occurred to me in this train of thought: if chewable ice has more air in it, put more air into the water, say with an aquarium air stone. It will cost you all of a couple bucks to get an air stone and some tubing. Set up several cups of water and leave on as is, the others, blow into the air stone for varying amounts of time (say, 1 breath in one, 2 in another, 4 in another, 8 in another) and freeze and see what you get.

I also willing to bet that you can run the air stone from a pump in the freezer and if it gets ruined, so what? Air stones cost $0.50.
posted by plinth at 8:45 AM on February 4, 2013

One possible problem I see with "aerating" the water as it freezes is the water's diminishing ability to absorb the air as it cools in the freezer. You would have to freeze the water very quickly to trap the bubbles, and apparently agitating the water as it freezes helps to release the suspended gasses further.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:52 AM on February 4, 2013

I like the snow cone idea! Here is a manual one for under $20.
posted by tickingclock at 9:08 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Actually, many fast food places will sell bags of ice (more common in the summer). Sonic is the prime one, Dairy Queen often has similar ice as well.

You can't beat the ease of buying a bag or two at a time. The downside is that chewable ice tends to refreeze in chunks, but usually broken with a couple hits on the bag.

You can pry the ice from my broken, dead teeth.
posted by shinynewnick at 12:54 PM on February 4, 2013

Aw. We had that Snoopy one when I was little. Thanks, 10th Regiment!
posted by judith at 4:08 PM on February 4, 2013

Best answer: Have you thought about asking at the Sonic if you can just buy a bag of ice? I buy ice from Burger King all the time as it is way cheaper than the supermarket and I don't have to get out of the car.
posted by wwax at 6:40 PM on February 4, 2013

Which Wich sells ice by the bag, and they sell that kind of ice.
posted by NoraReed at 1:12 AM on February 5, 2013

Best answer: Posting for posterity, Sonic sells what looks to be a 5 lb bag of ice for $1.99, at least in NM.
posted by Flamingo at 6:24 AM on February 15, 2013

Response by poster: Hello again! Back with results.

I bought small ice trays and tried them out with 4 methods. Here's what happened:

1. Plain tap water in tray, frozen straight through: Normal, hard ice
2. Plain tap water in tray, frozen halfway, shaken, then frozen again: Normal, hard ice (that was also harder to dislodge)
3. Perrier water in tray, frozen straight through: More chewy/cloudy than the first tries
4. Sparkling water in tray, frozen straight through: The chewiest and cloudiest

None of these options were as good as the bags of ice I ended up buying at Sonic, but option 4 will serve just find during the times when he or I don't feel like going to buy Sonic ice.

...and though I'm no habitual ice chewer, that Sonic ice was delicious to munch on.
posted by rachaelfaith at 1:38 PM on February 18, 2013

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