One of the few pleasant experiences associated with hospital stays are the crunchy, soft ice chips they give you – at least according to most people. Ice chips are often recommended before an invasive medical procedure like surgery. They also help to prevent mouth sores or oral mucositis. The thing is, we yearn for them long after we’ve been discharged. So, it turns out it’s really simple to make them at home. But before we get to that, here are some benefits of chips over cubes:
- They take up less space in the freezer.
- They freeze quicker.
- They’re easier to suck on.
What Do I Need?
To make ice chips at home, all you need is a container to store them, water, and a flat aluminum tray. It takes about 30 – 45 minutes to make chips. They are made at a temperature of -2 degrees F.
Start by pouring water in your tray. How much depends on what quantity of chips you want to make. Once you’ve decided, put the tray into the freezer. When it’s frozen, take it out and give the tray a little shake or twist. The block of ice will chip. After that, all that’s left is placing the ice chips in your container. If you don’t have a big enough tray for them, use a full-sized cookie sheet.
Few people prefer chewing cubes to chewing chips. Ice chips freeze much faster and take up less space, making them a great choice for a party over cubes. They won’t remain at the bottom of your glass like a misunderstanding when you finish your drink.
Why Should I Make Ice Chips at Home?
Everyone who wants to enjoy hospital-like ice chips should make them at home. It’s easy and the results are great. They’re not as addictive as, say, propofol so it’s rare for someone to want to be hospitalized for this reason. Still, maybe it’s happened. We don’t know. Store-bought ice is too cold and too hard for most people’s taste. So, making them at home is really the only option.
Are you wondering why hospital ice chips are so tasty? It’s probably because hardness relates to the temperature. After freezing, water continues to chill down until reaching the ambient temperature of the freezer, which is usually between 0 and 10°F. If you want your ice to be chewier, let it melt for a bit. It’s most delicious when the core is near the freezing point. At hospitals, the storage chest is about 30°F. Ice chips are an amazing cocktail ingredient as well.
Crushed Ice and Other Ice Chip Varieties
Crushed ice is tiny pieces of hard ice, some pebbly-looking and others shard-shaped. The pieces are small enough to melt quickly, but hard enough to be crunched. Crushed ice can be made in a Lewis Bag, from hard ice in a crushed ice machine, or with a mallet or muddler. Slurpees, smoothies, and frozen margaritas contain slushie ice. It is made by putting any drink through a blender with lots of hard ice until you get a homogenous mix.
One last variety of ice chips is what’s known as soft ice: medium-sized pellets with lots of small holes, making them easy to crush between chompers, but also cube-like. The longer it sits in your drink, the softer it gets. According to bartenders, this is the most delicious and satisfying of ices.
Making Soft Ice
If you’ve searched how to make soft ice online, you’ve probably read that going to a Sonic is your best bet. Sonics sell big bags of it from their special ice machines. One little-known, but very successful approach is to use carbonated water to suspend bubbles in regular ice cubes. This makes them aerated – full of little holes – and therefore softer. Even people who aren’t in the habit of crunching ice will start to love it in their drinks. Eventually, the soft ice melts in the mouth.
How to Make Soft Ice with Carbonated Water
To do this, carbonate some water or buy a big bottle of club soda or another really fizzy beverage. The bubble size actually does matter. The bigger they are, the better. Freeze the carbonated water, soda, or other fizzy drink. The perfect size for soft crushed ice is a medium-sized cube, between 0.5 and 0.75 inches big. Ice this size doesn’t melt too fast and fits in your mouth easily.
At the end of your drink, you’re left with a few really soft pieces. In the beginning, there are tiny, snowy bits floating around. Ultimately, it’s a matter of taste. Fill normal ice cube trays to the top or less depending on the desired size. They need a few hours to freeze. Even if you leave them in the freezer for days, they’ll remain soft and be cloudy when you pop them out.
Once you’ve done this, crush the ice. If you don’t have time or are unwilling to buy a Lewis bag, make one using a tea towel as a satchel. Smash the soft ice cubes in it with a muddler or mallet. You only need to whack them once. Don’t smash them to pieces. It’s not a problem to have some tiny pellets in the mix.
That’s it. All that’s left to do is scoop some into a glass and pour in your drink or cocktail of choice. Big chunks are OK too because they’ll melt more slowly. The best part is that they get softer and softer over time. And it is a fact of life that even people who aren’t into ice crunching can enjoy soft ice. Some people are too self-aware to chew on ice in public, so they crunch it. There’s then no need to be afraid of cutting the inside of your mouth on the ice because it’s not hard like cubes.
Enjoy making ice chips and soft ice at home and make sure you treat all your friends whenever there should be an occasion for it!