How do I keep my ice from being nasty?
August 3, 2017 8:18 PM   Subscribe

Our built-in refrigerator (which came with our house, so we didn't get to choose it) has an ice maker that delivers ice into a bin in the freezer (no dispenser in the door). I find that once the ice cubes are even 2 days old, they start to get nasty. They shrink a lot and smell sour. Is there anything I can do to correct this?

I know that if I leave them in there for a long time they'll get nasty no matter what, but 2 days seems ridiculously short. I replace the filter religiously when it tells me to (roughly every 6 months), and as far as I can tell there's no correlation between the freshness of the filter and the nastiness of the ice cubes. I also have many times dumped out the entire bin and scrubbed it clean, but that doesn't make a noticeable difference either. As far as I can tell, they're totally fine when they first come out, so it really does have to do with how long they sit in there.

Is there anything else I can do to make my ice cubes last longer before getting gross?
posted by primethyme to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Box of baking soda in the freezer, changed regularly (I dunno, every few weeks?)?
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 8:36 PM on August 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

I put them in a gallon ziploc bag. Anything uncovered in a refrigerator will pick up odors, frozen water included.
posted by HotToddy at 8:48 PM on August 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

Regarding the rapid shrinkage, it sounds like your freezer is not very cold. Ice sublimates more quickly the closer it gets to the melting point-- in a freezer just barely at 32°F (0°C), ice will vaporize over four times as quickly as it will at 0°F (-18°C). (Based on this table of ice vapor pressure vs. temperature: So try lowering the freezer thermostat setting if possible.

Regarding the nasty odor, I speculate that the ice surface gets increasingly porous as it evaporates away, allowing more freezer stink to adsorb onto/into the surface, and concentrating it further as ice is lost. The amount of stink absorbed probably depends more on the total ice shrinkage than on how old the ice is, so a colder freezer may reduce that as well.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 8:49 PM on August 3, 2017 [14 favorites]

If your fridge doesn't have a filter system inside on the water line, there are filtration systems you can attach at other points in the line, usually under the sink where you can reach it easily. Either way, the filters need to be changed a lot more often than you think unless you put in something fancier than a filter cylinder.

I agree that you should get a thermometer to check your freezer temp (you can get digital ones, with alarms even, for under $15 on Amazon) over 24 hours in case you're getting weird fluctuations.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:04 PM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Some good ideas above. For comparison, have you tried regular ice cubes made with a conventional, non-robotic ice cube tray? They may taste better or worse or the same but you wil have learned something regardless.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:22 PM on August 3, 2017 [7 favorites]

Clean your fridge and freezer, top to bottom; scrub every little crevice and throw away anything old or unsealed. Fridge and freezer share air, so it has to be both.
posted by flimflam at 12:14 AM on August 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

I would also replace the tubing if you can. If not, you may want to see if there slate manufacturing instructions on cleaning it.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:12 AM on August 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Are you open to periodically bagging up fresh ice to keep it fresher?
posted by uberchet at 8:04 AM on August 4, 2017

I think self-defrosting freezers will shrink ice cubes relatively quickly, if that's what you have. Seconding putting ice cubes in a sealed bag or other container, even though it's a PITA.
posted by mefireader at 8:51 AM on August 4, 2017

The above, plus do you have copper tubing? Plastic grows the most disgusting gunk.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:05 PM on August 4, 2017

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