Whether you are seeking to preserve meat products, fresh produce, or any other commercial products that needs to be cooled, choosing the right kind of ice for your application is essential. Block, flake, and slush ices each offer their own unique advantages and disadvantages, including variances in availability, melting speeds and space efficiency. When combining the proper ice type with the capability of Semco custom-designed cooling systems, you’ll be assured of product integrity throughout the storage process. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of ice and when they might be useful for a given application.
If space limitations exist or you’re seeking a slower-melting option, block ice may be an ideal choice. Keep in mind that blocks must usually first be crushed in order to be used for actual food storage purposes, as a flat slab would not have the ability to surround non-standard shapes and thus provide proper cooling. Block ice does also provide the benefits of widespread availability and maximum space efficiency, as there is no empty container space as when carrying flake or slush types.
Conversely, it must be noted that properly crushing block ice can be a labor-intensive process, and without the right kind of equipment, it may not be possible at all. When blocks are not broken down into small enough pieces, you can run the risk of inadequate cooling performance (due to insufficient surface contact) as well as product damage which can result from larger, sharper chunks of ice.
Traditional tools can be utilized to break down ice in block form, such as picks and hammers, but this is potentially inefficient and can even be unsafe. If choosing this ice type as part of your preservation strategy, keep in mind that Semco crushers are a convenient and efficient means of outputting ideal, consistent crushed ice, both for transportation and general storage needs.
There are a few immediate benefits of flake-style ice versus blocks. For starters, manual crushing is not necessary, as flake ice is sold in a ready-to-use state. Its natural shape allows it to fit easily around stored food such as fish and as it melts, it creates a kind of natural skin which aids in decelerating the melting of any ice below.
Additionally, with greater overall surface area than many other types, flake ice is able to cool product more quickly when compared with some of the competition. This type of ice is easy to transport and store, and it helps to prevent introduction of bacteria which can result when relying on other methods of refrigeration.
By contrast though, this type of ice is less space-efficient than several other varieties, particularly when compared to block form. Potential caking can occur at the bottoms or sides of your storage areas as well, and while more surface area does provide faster cooling potential, it also tends to melt more quickly. Semco recommends the use of this flake ice when ample space is available and when crushing block ice is either impractical or impossible.
As the name suggests, slush is a combination of ice and water, which combine to create a cooling method that’s both efficient and adaptable. The liquid component helps to ensure that slush ice will completely fill in any spaces between food products, regardless of the size of your holding area. This is also a preferred method of cooling while retaining your product’s natural moisture.
As with other varieties, certain drawbacks do exist for slush ice. For example, the overall liquidity level must be monitored constantly in order to ensure that too much ice does not melt, resulting in temperatures too high for safe food storage. Semco has also found that micronutrients and pigment can be sapped from fish stored in water, possibly necessitating use of a dry cooling method instead.
In the end, each type of ice offers many similar benefits and drawbacks. In order to protect your product and profitability, you must be sure to select the type that’s best suited to your environment and application:
- For the greatest overall efficiency in terms of space usage and melting speed, block ice makes a good choice. Keep in mind the additional labor and/or equipment necessary to produce crushed ice.
- Fast cooling, ample moisture retention and ease of use are some of the primary benefits of flake ice. However, be aware that this type does melt more quickly and typically requires larger storage spaces.
- Choose slush ice when strong moisture retention is desired or when you must ensure thorough contact with all food products being stored or transported. Bear in mind that liquidity must be steadily monitored and fish pigment or micronutrients may be drained to some extent.
Semco is an industry leader in industrial and commercial cooling systems, providing the technology to preserve a variety of perishable commodities safely and effectively. We provide everything from ice bins and scales to crushers, blowers and hydro coolers, serving companies working throughout each stage of the supply chain. Our systems can be built and installed to meet your custom specifications, making it possible to address virtually any needs in the world of commercial ice storage and transportation.