Need ice right away? We cover how long it takes for ice to freeze – and how to possibly speed it up for your convenience. Read to find out more!
Maybe you’ve got a party coming up soon, but the ice cubes are nowhere near done. You’ve got the ice cube trays filled, but every time you check, it’s still stuck at a liquid state.
How long does it take for ice to freeze — and what could you do to speed it up?
Typically, ice freezes in around three to four hours. But there’s more to ice cubes than you think! You can speed up the process in a variety of ways, and we cover that and more below:
The Freezing Process
It’s time to make ice cubes! But wait, you may be curious – what happens when you freeze water?
Or, what happens when water reaches its freezing point?
The freezing point of pure water is at zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit). Freezing ice is simply the fact that the molecules in water can no longer fight against the force of attraction that keeps them together.
As a result, the liquid turns into a solid state – or water becomes ice. You can see the process forming in the ice crystals you may see when you check on your ice makers!
The goal when you want ice cubes to freeze faster is to reach that freezing point much quicker. But how do we get water to freeze much quicker than usual?
How Long Does It Take for Ice to Freeze?
Ice can take up to four hours to freeze. The material you use to freeze ice cubes can vary, so here are the pros and cons of each.
What is the Best Ice Cube Tray?
01 Plastic Ice Cube Trays
You can never go wrong with a standard ice cube tray. While they’re usually made with twelve slots, you can find other ice cube trays with more slots for a greater amount of ice cubes.
However, the problem with old, reliable plastic ice cube trays is the fact that they can leach chemicals. They can contain bisphenol or BPA, which can cause a whole host of neurological and reproductive problems in humans.
You can invest in some BPA-free plastic trays instead, like this one that comes with a lid and scooper.
02 Silicone Ice Cube Trays
Silicone ice cube trays are harder to get ice cubes from in comparison to any plastic ice cube tray. However, the upside is that they won’t pose any threat of chemical leaching.
In addition, ice cubes ready-made in silicone trays can be in different shapes, styles, and sizes. You could choose any mold in the world you want to make ice into, and silicone will be the best material for it!
There is another downside to silicone ice cube trays: they absorb flavor much better. If you turn your tap water into ice in silicone molds, it may end up tasting funny. Try it out for yourself first and see if it’s worth the buy!
If you ever fancy some hexagon molds for your ice, this product takes the top spot.
03 Stainless Steel Ice Trays
Stainless steel or metal trays are more durable for your ice. While they may be a bit harder to get ice from, they are also more eco-friendly!
This vintage-inspired ice cube tray is one to go for if you’re looking into having a stainless steel one in your home!
04 Plastic Bags
You can never go wrong with making ice in plastic bags. While not fit for glasses, freezing water in plastic bags or ice packs will make it a perfect candidate for crushed ice or big pitchers.
05 Dedicated Ice Makers
A stand-alone ice maker may be a good investment for your kitchen.
Dedicated ice makers can make more ice for you, and you don’t have to go through the same labor of filling up the ice trays every now and then.
If you really do love your ice or host parties a lot, it may be time to get ice makers! With a dedicated ice maker, faster ice is also possible.
In a Refrigerator Ice Maker
Your refrigerator may have an ice maker and you may just not know it! Check your fridge for ice-making capabilities and use it instead of ice trays. In its own way, it’s a dedicated ice maker for you as well.
Is a Refrigerator Ice Maker Faster?
Not really! If anything, the refrigerator ice maker only makes it more convenient for ice to freeze. But the way an ice maker or ice cube dispenser does it is no different from putting the water into the ice trays yourself.
Can You Freeze Water in 5 Minutes?
Yes! It’s possible to freeze water faster, maybe 10 mins. But that’s for science experiment, NOT for making ice for drinks.
Can Ice Freeze in 30 Minutes?
Yes, ice cubes can freeze within thirty minutes! Despite the usual time being around three to four hours, there’s a pretty neat trick you can do to speed up the ice cubes’ process.
The secret? Some hot water. That’s it!
Mix hot water into your ice cube tray and pop it into your freezer. In less than thirty minutes, you’ll find you have fully-formed ice cubes.
This is a great trick to save a sudden party or when you’ve run out of ice cubes for a gathering.
Why Does Hot Water Freeze Faster? The Mpemba Effect
Hot water freezes faster thanks to the Mpemba Effect! Contrary to what you may think, using cold water won’t make the ice freeze faster. Warm water freezing faster is pretty well-researched and well-documented, so you should go ahead and give it a try.
The Mpemba Effect is named after Erasto Mpemba. He observed that hot water froze faster than cold water did as a schoolboy, and the rest is history.
We have him to thank for the tips that make our ice cubes freeze faster than normal!
Not only does boiling water make ice cubes freeze quicker, boiling water also eliminates air bubbles as you freeze water.
Place the boiling water into a tray and directly into the freezer. Make sure you don’t spill any of it as you try to produce ice fast! You might accidentally defrost some items and leave room-temperature food at your wake.
How to Make Ice Freeze Faster
There are multiple factors that affect the freezing point. If you don’t feel like scrounging up hot water for some fast ice cubes, you can tweak any of the following factors:
01 Lower Your Freezer Temperature
The air temperature of your freezer will also affect how long your ice cubes will take to freeze.
It’s simple: if your freezer is set at a lower temperature, the faster your ice cubes will freeze.
So, if you want water to freeze faster, try setting it at the lowest setting possible when putting in the ice tray inside a fridge.
02 Alter the Size of the Ice Cubes
For water to freeze faster, you can put them in smaller trays. Smaller ice cubes freeze much faster, and are a cute look in any drink!
Small ice cubes can be possible through getting specific ice molds. Small ice cubes’ molds are available at your general store.
The drawback of tiny ice cubes, however, is that they melt quite quickly.
If you want ice cubes that melt slower, go for an ice tray that can accommodate large ice cubes.
03 Change Up the Water Temperature
We mentioned this above, but simply getting cold water won’t make the cut! Using hot water will make each cube freeze faster.
This effect on ice cubes is called the Mpemba effect.
04 Look Into Ice Trays of Different Materials
How long your ice will freeze depends on the type of ice tray you use as well.
The average ice cube tray is plastic with twelve slots. In fact, that may be the very tray you have for ice cubes in your fridge!
However, if you want to speed up the ice making process, you can look into different types of trays. A stainless steel tray, for example, will freeze ice faster compared to plastic or silicone ones.
05 Make Sure Everything in Your Freezer is Already Frozen
When everything in your freezer is already frozen, ice cube trays seem to freeze much faster. The cold air and materials will help each frozen cube attain their state!
What’s the Best Freezer Temperature to Make Ice Freeze Quicker?
Try to set your freezer temperature to the lowest possible setting. This freezer temperature may be zero degrees or lower.
When you’re freezing ice, it may be tempting to keep opening the freezer door to check on your freezing ice cubes. However, all you might find are air bubbles or ice crystals!
Water freezes at a glacial pace when you’re waiting for it. Just keep the freezer door closed and let the cold temperature do the work on your water to freeze.
Does an Empty or Full Freezer Matter?
It actually does! Water freezes faster in a colder area, and the more frozen items there are in your fridge, the colder the surrounding surface area is. So, yes, an empty or full freezer does matter in freezing ice cubes.
How to Keep Ice Frozen
So, ice freezes at a rate you’re happy with now. But now comes the time where you have to take out the ice for your guest or own use, and you don’t want
01 Line Your Ice Cube Trays with Tin Foil
A single layer of aluminum foil can go a long way! By covering the entire surface area of your ice tray, you reflect light and heat away from the ice cube tray. At the same time, it insulates your ice cubes and keeps them frozen for longer.
02 Store Your Ice Box in a Cool, Shaded Area
If you’re using an ice box, make sure you don’t leave it out in the sun! Instead, find a nice, shaded area where you can leave it. Ideally, you can leave your ice box somewhere cold as well.
03 Make Sure Your Ice Box Is Cold
In other words, fill that box to the brim with ice! The colder the temperature of the surface area, the better your ice cubes will stay in their frozen state.
04 Use a Vacuum-Insulated Container
Instead of an ice box, a vacuum-insulated container may be preferable. This isn’t advisable if you need large quantities of ice! Usual vacuum-insulated containers are smaller in size.
Some vacuum-insulated bottles are so good at what they do that they can keep ice at freezing temperature for twenty-four hours.
05 Use Dry Ice
Stop melting the ice faster by putting in packs of dry ice with your regular ice, whether they may be the perfect ice cubes or blocks of ice in a box.
Dry ice has a temperature way below the freezing point of regular ice. As it’s pure carbon dioxide, dry – and its surrounding air temperature – stands at -78.5 degrees Celsius (-109.30 degrees Fahrenheit)
As a result, your regular ice will last longer with dry ice around. You may want to know How Long Does Dry Ice Last?
Keep topping up your ice box with some dry ice and you’ll have ice that will last for a long time.
The dry ice will eventually sublimate, so it won’t make a mess in your cooler!
06 Use Ice Packs
An ice pack is usually designed to melt faster than your regular ice. As it melts, it will keep the surrounding ice and air space cooler, allowing your ice to stay frozen for longer.
07 Pre-Chill Your Cooler
As you wait for your ice to freeze slightly faster with the tips and tricks we recommended here, you can pre-chill your cooler.
Pre-chilling your cooler will allow the ice to melt slower.
Bring down the temperature of your chosen cooler with dry ice, some frozen water bottles, or by putting the cooler itself in a freezer.
08 Wrap Your Cooler with a Towel
A wet towel wrapped around your cooler will make it colder, and in turn, will make ice inside melt slower. Of course, placing it in a cool, shady place also contributes greatly!
09 Bury the Ice Box Halfway Into The Ground
The deeper you go into the ground, the cooler it is.
If you’re staying somewhere for a while, you can dig a space for your cooler. You can bury it either halfway or three-fourths of the way through. Going any further might make dirt go into your cooler, so stop at a reasonable depth!
Let the ice box stay inside the dug hole – preferably it’s also somewhere safe from the sun.
10 Make Larger Ice Blocks
A smaller size of frozen cubes of ice melt faster than their larger counterparts. You can make larger ice cubes or go the extra mile of making large blocks of solid ice!
That way, the surface area is larger and won’t melt as quickly.
The tradeoff for this technique is the time it will take to freeze ice. Ice freezes faster if they take the form of smaller ice cubes.
How to Make Ice Cubes – or Any Shape in the Sun!
Use an Ice Cube Tray
Simply fill the ice cube tray with water and pop it in the freezer. You can use different ones, too – there are some with twelve slots, and some with over sixty slots if you want more ice cubes!
There are also specific molds that can give you pebble-like ice, or long, narrow ice sticks fit for water bottles. Whether you prefer standard ice cubes or those with custom sizes and designs, you’ll be sure to find one that fits your needs at the store or in online shops!
How to Make Crushed Ice
First, freeze ice cubes inside a freezer. Then, you can do either of the following for crushed ice:
Use a Blender Or Food Processor
Get the ice cubes out of the ice cube tray or mold and put it into a blender or food processor. Use the medium setting as you cover the blender up. Pulse for a few moments. After a few seconds, you have crushed ice all ready!
Use a Plastic Bag
You can either freeze up the ice in the plastic bag yourself or fill a bag with ice cubes. Whatever the case, you can start crushing it from outside the bag against the kitchen counter. Congratulations, you have crushed ice!
How to Use Your Ice Cube Trays
Have you got all the ice cubes you could need? There are other ways to use your ice cubes’ trays – and here are some of them:
01 Make Miniature Desserts
You can look into making miniature versions of refrigerator desserts! From thick chocolate desserts to fruit-topped mini cakes, you have a world of options to choose from and freeze in your fridge.
02 Make Popsicles
Who doesn’t love a cool treat in the middle of a hot day? Popsicles are the perfect afternoon snack, and won’t take long to do.
You can use juice, chocolate milk, and even a blend of fruits and sugar. Pour the mixtures into the ice cube tray and stick popsicle sticks after freezing them for some time.
How Long Does It Take For Popsicles to Freeze?
Popsicles will take around two hours to freeze all over. If you want popsicles as a midday snack, make them right after or before lunchtime so they can freeze properly! Remember to put in the popsicle sticks after an hour of freezing.
03 Freeze Olive Oil and Herbs
Hard herbs such as thyme, oregano, sage, and rosemary would benefit from being frozen in olive oil. The aroma thoroughly infuses into the oil after freezing, which makes them the perfect addition to soups and meats.
Plus, it makes sure your herbs don’t dry out and rot in the pantry!
04 Fill With Flavored Water
Add some zest to your regular water habit by adding some flavored ice cubes into the mix!
Chop up your desired ingredients. Many people favor lemon, mint, watermelon, or cucumber – or a mixture of them all. Fill the tray up with these ingredients before adding water.
You can opt to add warm water to freeze the ice faster. Get them out when they’re frozen, and add the colorful ice cubes into your drink!
05 Fill With Coffee
Haven’t you ever wanted an iced coffee that didn’t water down the taste due to the ice cubes in it? Coffee ice cubes solve that problem for you!
By freezing the coffee as ice cubes themselves, you can add them to your favorite coffee drink to make it cold — without the fear of a watered down taste.
06 Freeze Baby Food
Making baby food from scratch every time your baby needs to eat is time-consuming. Instead of blending your chosen vegetables every meal time, make a set of baby food in one go!
Add the baby food into ice cubes to freeze them. When your baby needs to eat, you only have to thaw out the amount you need. It’s also a good way to preserve leftover baby food!
How Long Does It Take For Baby Food to Freeze?
Baby food – or any pureed food – can take up to five hours to freeze. To save on time, make the baby food in the evening and freeze them overnight.
07 Freeze Greens for Smoothies
There’s always a surplus of vegetables in our pantry we can’t seem to throw away. The solution? Green smoothies — and frozen greens.
The next time you have a lot of vegetables you need to finish right away, chop them up and put them in a blender. You can make a green smoothie there and then, and use the rest for ice trays. You can add the frozen greens the next time you make a smoothie.
08 Fill With Infused Butters
Infused butter is a good way to add flavor to your dishes. Make them in a batch and freeze ahead to reduce prep and cooking time.
How Long Does It Take For Butters to Freeze?
It can take up to 7 hours for butters to freeze! To make the most of your time, make the infused butters in the evening and freeze overnight.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Ice Freeze In 2 Hours?
Yes, it can — if you follow our instructions in speeding up the freezing process above! Use warm water, lower the freezer temperature, and alter the size of your ice cubes.
How Long Does It Take to Freeze 2-inch Ice Cubes?
For standard refrigerators and freezers, two-inch ice cubes can freeze in three to four hours.