A Guide to the Different Types of Ice and Their Purpose

In this post, I want to talk about all things ice. As you are well aware, ice comes in several different sizes and shapes. Depending on how you are using the ice determines the ice shape you’ll need.

Sometimes you’re not that concerned with the size or shape of the ice, and other times it makes a big difference.

When I go camping, I don’t care that much the ice or texture of the ice. I am more concerned about having ice and a lot of it. If I were whipping up a refreshing cup of iced coffee, I would care a little more about the size and texture of the ice that I’m serving.

Let’s take a closer look at the different shapes of ice and the popular uses for each of them.

Bullet Sized Ice

bullet shape ice

Bullet sized ice is produced using a portable ice maker.  The reason this ice looks like small bullets has to do with the way the ice is created. Water surrounds a small tube with freon and starts to build up ice around it. Over time, the ice forms into a small bullet shape is dropped into your ice tray for use.

Most portable ice makers have three sizes you can choose from – Small, medium and large. Some portable ice makers only have two sizes (small and large), but most will have at least two options.

Portable ice makers are generic machines. There is no specific purpose for a portable ice maker and its ice; they can be used for anything or everything.

If you are looking for crushed ice you can purchase a great ice crusher from Amazon. The Hawaiian Shaved Ice Machine is my absolute favorite.

If you are looking for ice and don’t care about texture, size or shape than a portable ice maker is probably your best choice.

  • Bullet ice can be used for anything
  • Normally, larger sized so not good for a smaller glass, but you can always crush the ice.
  • Great for a RV or for taking with you camping
  • Mixed Drinks
  • A Variety of Sodas
  • Cocktails

 Nugget (or Sonic Ice)

Nugget Ice

Nugget-sized ice is soft and chewy. One of the best benefits of nugget ice is that it melts slowly and doesn’t dilute your drink.


Those who are ice chewers (Yeah, that’s a real thing), often use nugget ice because it’s soft and better for your teeth.

Nugget ice is fabulous for carbonated drinks and cocktails, but is also used on salad bars and produce displays.

  • It’s a Smaller ice so it’s great for cocktails and other drinks
  • Great for chewing!
  • Melts slower than other ice so it keeps your drinks from becoming watered down and losing its taste.
  • Homes, offices, restaurants and bars
  • Blending
  • Mixed Drinks

 Flaked Ice (Shaved)

Flake Ice

Ice flakes are probably most popular at the fair on snow cones (my favorite flavor is cherry). Another place you’ll see flaked ice is at the supermarket at the seafood display. Usually, they lay out flaked ice on a display table and gently lay the prized catch on top.

Flaked ice shows very well and has a sort-of clean look. Because the ice is soft and easy to blend, many people use it to mix drinks and produce several types of drink creations.

  • Great for a cafeteria or buffet
  • Great for snow cones or other cool treats
  • Awesome for making your very own slushies
  • checkOften used to pack food while in transportation
  • Restaurants and grocery stores
  • Making Snow Cones and Other Ice Desserts

 Full Cubes

Full Ice Cubes

The cube is probably the most common shape of ice. When I even mention ice, it’s the first thing that comes to your mind.  There are so many places that serve cube-sized ice that I’m not going to try to list them all.

These slow-melting cubes of cold beloved by the food service industry and restaurants alike. Ice cubes are slowly melting, and because of their size, they cool a drink quickly.

  • Soda
  • Whiskey and Spirits
  • Mixed drinks
  • Great foe the Office
  • Cools drinks down faster because of its size
  • Great for coolers
  • Often the “go-to” ice for any situation

 Half Cubes of Ice

half a Cube of Ice

As you may have guessed by its title, half cubes are half the size of full cubes. These are very similar to full ice cubes as far as usage is concerned, but is often easier to handle and disperse than full cubes. Therefore, this type of ice is perfect for your cocktails and other cold drinks.

  • Like its cousin, (full ice cube) it’s a great ice for any type of drink
  • It’s easier to handle than full ice cubes so it is a little more popular
  • Often used by restaurants, coffee shops and bars. It’s a great ice to use for iced coffee.

Crescent Ice

Crescent Ice

When you see this shape of ice, you’re going to think stars and especially the moon. The name crescent comes from its half-moon shape. This ice is excellent because of its small size and the ability to get more ice into your glass.

  • Compact ice, fits in any glass
  • Its shape means you get more ice in your glass
  • Soda
  • Cocktails
  • Whiskeys and Scotch
  • Mixed Drinks
  • Bars, Cafes and Restaurants
  • Usually melts slower than larger ice

 Gourmet Ice

Gourmet Ice or Clear Ice

Gourmet ice is the ice you would find a high-end restaurant or a fancy dinner party. It’s clear to the eye and melts very slowly, so it doesn’t dilute your drink.

Gourmet ice is shaped like a small shot glass and is very attractive in its appearance. It’s unique shape, and clear presentation makes this an excellent ice for your special events.

  • Clear Attractive Ice
  • Great for those High-End Meetings and Events
  • Melts Slower so it’s Great for Cocktails and other Expensive drinks
  • Bars, Restaurants, Offices and Homes.

Ice Maker Geeks are ice enthusiasts that review ice-making appliances, research ice-related topics, and do their best to help you make an informed decision before you make a purchase. Over the years of running this website, they have learned a lot and are excited to share that knowledge with you. The article you just read is just a small sample of the work that they have been doing over the last several years.

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