Anyone in the industry of transporting fish knows that you have to keep it cool. Otherwise you run the risk of selling bad products to your customers. Spoilage begins as soon as the fish dies, so it is important to take great care to keep the fish as fresh and cool as possible. Once they start going bad, spoilage cannot be undone.

When you are considering how best to keep fish cool, you have a few options to consider. There are several different types of ice that you can use—block ice, slush ice or flake ice—or even chilled seawater. However, this article is going to focus on helping you understand exactly what flake ice is, and then focus on the pros and cons of flake ice. Be sure to check out our series on the pros and cons of other types of ice.

What Is Flake Ice?

Flake ice, also sometimes referred to as scale ice, is large, flat, thin pieces of ice. It’s normally formed in a drum. It is made by contact freezing a film of water on the inner or outer surface of the drum. The ice is sub-cooled, so that it becomes extremely brittle. Once the ice is cracked it falls due to gravity into the ice store.

Flake ice has to be stored in freezers below freezing in order to keep it fresh and usable for the transportation of fish. Flake ice is commonly used to chill fish and other food products; however it is also used in an array of other industries that require effective cooling systems, such as the concrete industry for example. When transporting fish it can be stored at above freezing for moderate lengths of time without too many problems.

The Advantages of Flake Ice

Just as with other types of ice, there are some advantages to using flake ice to transport fish. Understanding these pros will help you ascertain if flake ice is the ice you need to help you keep your fish cool and fresh.

  • Easy to Use – Compared to crushed ice, flake ice is easy to use because it does not require you to crush it.
  • Efficiently Fits Around Fish – Flake ice can also be packed well around the fish, which makes it a very efficient cooling agent.
  • Moisture Retention – As the flake ice melts, it moistens the fish which helps them not lose weight. The initial melting also forms a thin skin which helps slow down the melting of the remaining ice.
  • Safety – Ice that is made from clean sources does not introduce bacteria or additives that other methods of refrigeration might introduce.
  • Convenience – Flake ice is easily manufactured, stored, and transported.
  • No Extra Equipment – Unlike with crushed ice, you do not need any extra equipment to use flake ice. This in turn helps save valuable space on-board ships.
  • More Surface Area – Flake ice has more surface area than many other types of ice. This allows it to cool faster than other ice.

Flake ice can be quite advantageous in the transportation of fish. It may be just the ice that your business needs.

The Disadvantages of Flake Ice

While there are many pros to using flake ice to cool fish, there are a few cons that must be discussed as well. Semco wants to make sure that you have all of the information necessary to make the best decision for your business.

  • More Surface Area – While the surface area is a plus due to its increased cooling potential, it is also a disadvantage because that means it is more likely to melt.
  • Space Efficiency – Flake ice tends to take up more room than crushed or slush ice, and considerably more room pound-for-pound than solid block ice.
  • Requires Large Capacity – Because it takes up more room, a larger capacity is needed to do the same amount of cooling.
  • Possible Caking at Sides or Bottom – One of the drawbacks of using flake ice is that it can result in caking at the sides and bottom of the transportation area.

Knowing the pros and cons of different fish cooling agents will help you understand what is best suited for your business’s needs.

How Can Semco Help?

Semco can help you figure out what type of fish cooling strategy is best for your business. If you already know what is best, we can also help you get the customized machinery and equipment that you need. Semco offers completely customizable equipment. We strive to give you the best products and services available, so that you can pass on that quality in the form of fresher, delicious fish to your customers. Don’t use a product that isn’t right for your business. Talk to Semco today to get a better understanding of your ice-related needs.