Flake ice machines produce large, soft, chewable nuggets of ice. They’re ideal for fish markets and other industrial applications where the ice is used to display fresh seafood or other products. They also serve well in restaurants, hospitals, and other health-care settings where ice is used to treat injuries or illnesses. These machines come in either head-only or self-contained models. Head-only units include only the ice maker, while self-contained units combine the bin and maker in one unit. Both types offer a variety of production capacities, from 182 to more than 2,000 pounds per day.
A flake ice machine uses heat-exchanging coils to freeze water and then release it in the form of flakes. These flakes are then stored in an insulated bin that can be placed under the counter or elsewhere in the establishment. The ice trays are accessible from the front or sides of the machine, making it easy to scoop out the ice for use in drinks and other products. These machines are also available in a wide range of sizes and styles, from countertop units to floor-standing options.
The size of the ice produced by these machines varies, as well. In fact, some of the smallest machines produce only nine cubes per hour, which is a decent amount for home use but may not be enough for a commercial setting. On the other hand, some of the largest models can produce over 2,000 pounds per day, which is plenty for a restaurant or health-care facility.
In addition to a high-volume output, many of the best flake ice machines are designed for reliability and ease of maintenance. They use sealed bearings to reduce preventative maintenance requirements, and they feature stainless steel evaporators and augers for greater durability. This means that you’re less likely to experience issues with scale, bacteria growth, and other problems common in other ice machine types.
Another benefit of this type of ice machine is that it’s soft and moldable, which makes it better suited for use in seafood displays. The soft, uniform flakes of flake ice can assume the shape of containers and surround food items to keep them cold for longer. This helps to inspire trust among customers that the seafood is fresh. These machines are often used in land-based seafood processing plants and storage facilities, as well as in supermarkets to create eye-catching displays.
Because it’s so soft, flake ice is also often used to preserve medical samples during transport. Medical professionals can place delicate samples in a tray of ice, which protects them from breakage and ensures that the temperature stays consistent throughout the supply chain. This is especially important for vaccines, which must remain at a precise temperature to prevent contamination. A flake ice machine is a cost-effective way to make enough ice for this purpose. It’s also a great option for storing other pharmaceutical products, such as medications or blood plasma. This ice is also useful in aquatic settings, such as aquaculture farms and marine life parks, where animals need to be kept cool but not frozen solid.