While many may absentmindedly fill their ice cube trays and forget about them until the ice has frozen, it can be interesting to consider just how long it takes for those ice cubes to freeze completely.
What are the variables involved? Are some methods of making ice faster than others? We’re going to answer those questions here so that you can learn which ice-making methods are most efficient, as well as how long you can expect it to take for your regular tray to make ice.
What Are the Variables?
Ice Cube Size
There are a couple of things to consider here. The first is the overall size of the cubes you’re making. If they’re smaller cubes, then there is less water to freeze. Therefore, they will freeze more quickly.
The second aspect to consider is the surface area involved. For example, if you’re making wider cubes that are thinner, they’ll freeze more quickly than thick cubes. If you have a tray that allows for some air space in between each cube, that will also help them to freeze more quickly.
You’ll also need to pay attention to the temperature in your freezer as you work to freeze the water. Typically, if your freezer has nothing else in it or everything else inside has already been thoroughly frozen, your freezer will be able to work at its most efficient.
However, if you are trying to make ice right after bringing home a bunch of food from the store to put in the freezer, it can slow down the process. This can depend on the temperature of the that food. If it’s room temperature to hot, it’s going to take more effort for the freezer to cool down.
How to make ice faster
There are a few things you can do to speed up the process of making ice. The first thing you can do is check out your ice cube tray. Does it have room for air around each cube? What size is it? Can you try using a stainless steel option rather than silicone or plastic?
If you’re in an extreme hurry, you can consider turning down your freezer temperature temporarily. Typically, your freezer should sit exactly at 0-degrees.
Using hot water to freeze ice faster
Use hot water in your ice tray instead of cold water to make ice faster.
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, hot water actually freezes faster than cold water. This was noted by a Tanzanian student in the 1960s who noticed that warm ice cream mix actually froze faster than cold ice cream mix.
Interestingly enough, Aristotle and Francis Bacon have noticed this as well, but the Tanzanian student's name stuck on the process 🙂
The resulting paradox was named after him and called the Mpemba effect. Since then, many people have tried to find a good solution for the Mpemba effect but nobody has managed to find a convincing one yet.
One theory was that warm containers are able to lose energy (heat) faster than cold containers when they're put in the freezer. Another theory was that as hot water evaporates, it draws heat out, enabling faster cooling and freezing.
These two arguments are far from convincing, though, so a team of researchers came up with a better explanation: the reason hot water freezes is due to the hydrogen bonds in water, which are the bonds between two separate molecules of water.
This isn't a concrete explanation, but it's the best one we have so far!
Are There Any Faster Methods To Make Ice?
Not everyone uses ice cube trays for their ice. Some use countertop ice makers and those that exist as part of your fridge. If you are someone who goes through a lot of ice and needs a quicker method to make it, a dedicated ice maker can be the ideal answer.
Another option is the fridge ice maker. These are convenient not because they necessarily work more quickly, but because you won’t have to worry about refilling the tray yourself. This can make it seem like there is a steadier stream of prepared ice rather than you having to make the effort.
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