Understanding Cube and Block Ice
Most likely, regular cube ice (aka bagged ice), will be readily available in your area. Look in your local yellow pages for ice suppliers. A local ice wholesaler may deliver the ice directly to you. You may need to use your own freezer at first, but as your business builds and your ice volume increases, your ice supplier may provide an outdoor ice merchandiser for storage.
While cube ice is almost the same throughout the country, block ice comes in two very different forms. There is compressed block ice and solid block ice. Never use compressed block ice for shaved ice machines. Compressed block ice is made by forcing chunks of ice or crushed ice into compression molds. This type of block ice does not provide a smooth shaving surface for your block shaver. Compressed block ice usually is filled with air spaces and will not produce smooth snow like a solid block.
Solid block ice is the preferred form of block ice used in the shaved ice industry. This type of block ice produces the best snow for shaved ice. However, a solid block may not be readily available in all parts of the country. Where available, block ice is usually purchased in 12-15 lb. or 300 lb. blocks. We suggest the 12 lb blocks for easy handling and storage. If needed, your local ice house can often cut down the 300 lb. blocks for you.
If your business continues to grow or if block ice is not available in your area, you may find that you can make your own ice at a fraction of the cost. You can freeze your own ice blocks in our block ice molds. Simply fill the containers with water and place into a deep freezer for 2 to 3 days. When freezing your own ice blocks be sure not to freeze your ice too fast. We suggest setting your freezer to around 10 degrees Fahrenheit. This will allow the ice to freeze slower and will produce a better ice block. Ice frozen too fast will crack when shaved. This is extremely important!
You can make your own ice by purchasing your own cube ice maker or block ice maker. Look in your local yellow pages under restaurant equipment or ice-making equipment for more information on cube ice makers in your area. Crushed ice or pellet ice will not work in cube ice shavers.
Whichever type of ice you use, please make sure you understand the advantages and disadvantages of using cube ice over block ice.