In a past article we discussed the Advantages of Using Ice to Cool Fish. We’ve also discussed How to Calculate the Amount of Ice Needed to Chill Fish. This naturally leads into the topic of what type of ice is the best to use for cooling fish. Each different common type of ice will of course have its own set of pros and cons. In today’s article let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of using one of the most popular types of ice to cool fish: block ice.
Block Ice Must Usually be Crushed
Before we get any further into the meat of the subject about the pros and cons of using block ice for cooling fish, it is important to understand that the block ice must be crushed if it is to be at all effective. Left in block form the ice would only be able to cool the surface of the fish placed directly against it, which would not be sufficient to prevent spoilage. Thus what we are considering in this article are the pros and cons of purchasing and transporting block ice, crushing it, and using that to cool the fish rather than simply starting with ice in a smaller form.
The Advantages of Block Ice
Having read the previous paragraph about the necessity of crushing ice before attempting to use it to cool fish, many readers may be wondering why any fishing crew would bother with block ice at all. Why not just start with crushed ice and save the trouble? In fact there are several excellent advantages to using block ice which make it arguably the most popular type of ice used for fishing expeditions. Consider the following:
Space Efficiency – One of the main advantages of block ice is that it is the most space efficient form of ice, meaning that for a given storage area more block ice per pound can fit than any other type of ice. That alone is extremely beneficial to fishermen all of the world, especially those operating smaller vessels where space is at a premium.
Readily Available – Another simple reason why block ice is so popular is because it is very readily available. Many commercial ice selling businesses supply not only fishing crews but also restaurants, bars, and other commercial and industrial clients. The wide availability of block ice also helps ensure that it stays affordable.
Melts Slowly – Block ice also has the advantage of being the slowest melting type of ice. That is because less of its surface area is exposed to warm air. This allows it to last much longer than other types of ice and makes it a great choice for longer expeditions.
Contains Less Water – Per area of volume block ice also contains less water than other types of ice. Once again that is because less of its surface area is exposed to warmth and thus there is less meltage. Not only does this ensure that the block ice lasts longer, it also ensures that it has maximum fish cooling potential. Once again this also positively affects the economy of block ice since fishermen purchasing block ice – with less liquid water – are getting better cooling potential and thus better value for their money.
The Disadvantages of Block Ice
While block ice has many great advantages there are also some very significant disadvantages, especially in terms of crushing requirements and ease of use. These disadvantages must either be overcome by careful and thorough crushing or else the fishing crew may want to consider a different form of ice to protect their fish.
Labor Intensive to Crush – Block ice that is crushed manually by a person is fairly labor intensive. Often the ice is crushed with an ice pick or a hammer and thus requires a significant amount of time and effort. There is also the risk of accidents or injuries. The entire process will require at least a little more planning and preparation than would be necessary for most types of ices since the block ice will essentially be useless for fish cooling until it has been broken.
May Require Extra Crushing Equipment – Many fishing crews eliminate the labor intensive aspect of block ice crushing by using mechanical crushing and grinding equipment. This also has the positive advantage of ensuring that the ice is thoroughly crushed. However, this method will obviously require the use of extra equipment which will take up space on board and cost money to purchase and maintain.
Large Chunks May Damage Fish – If the ice is not properly crushed there is also the risk that the large, jagged chunks may damage the fish. This can exacerbate the risk of spoilage, adversely affect meat quality, and make the fish less appealing to potential buyers.
Insufficient Crushing May Result in Insufficient Cooling – In addition to the physical risk of damage from the large chunks of ice, if the block ice is not thoroughly crushed it may not be able to provide sufficient cooling. Larger pieces will not as effectively surround the fish and will not readily enter cracks, crevices, and cavities. Thus insufficient crushing risks spoilage.
When considering what type of ice to use for your fishing voyage it is important to carefully weigh the pros and cons and determine the best type for your particular situation. Semco can help. We provide outstanding cooling, freezing, and ice solutions that are ideal for use for industrial or commercial fishing. Let us help you protect the value and quality of your fish.