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Splintered ice cubes

I have a standard plastic ice cube tray-- there are 16 wells, and you pop the ice out by twisting tray in opposite directions. At my last residence, my ice cubes came out in whole cubes; I've just moved, though, and now my ice cubes are break into shards when I try to remove them. What would cause this? Minerality or something else in the water? The speed at which the water is freezing? The refrigerator does run cold, even after I've adjusted the temperature a few times. I'd love to hear your clever ideas on this.

asked by vvvanessa over 3 years ago
18 answers 7322 views
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Sam1148

Sam is a trusted home cook.

added over 3 years ago

Sometimes the trays just get old and lose the coating that lets them release intact cubes. Time to buy new trays. The Rubbermaid trays are good---but still need to be replaced every few years Some people say a spraying of "pam" type light cooking oil and a washing will restore them but that's a short term solution which has never worked for me for more than a few week. So, It's not your water, temp, it's as simple as the tray itself.
Pick up one new tray and see if that works then replace the set.

The only other option is run water over the back of them before popping the cubes out.

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added over 3 years ago

thanks, sam1148. i hadn't even considered it might be the trays themselves. it couldn't hurt to replace them!

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Sam1148

Sam is a trusted home cook.

added over 3 years ago

What happens is that they get old. Little cracks build up in the trays, and hard water bonding, lime coating etc. Difficult to correct as it's cheaper to replace. I need to replace mine too. Sometimes soaking them in white vinegar can remove the hard water scale...but it's lost cause at that point; New trays.

They're kinda like 'non stick' skillets; which no matter how much you baby them they'll develop little fissures and degrade over time.

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added over 3 years ago

An interesting question. You could also try to make a tray of ice cubes using filtered or spring water from a bottle and see if you notice any difference. Are they rough on the outside only or cloudy on the inside too if you rinse one?

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SKK
added over 3 years ago

What is the problem with splintered ice cubes?

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added over 3 years ago

Also, counter-intuitively enough, hot water makes better ice cubes than cold water. Go figure.

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added over 3 years ago

this so funny! my trays did the same thing this week. correction, only one of them did. i was amazed and wondering what was wrong. now i know! thanks for asking this question...

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Sam1148

Sam is a trusted home cook.

added over 3 years ago

@latoscana
Yes and no for the hot water thing. Hot water has some air boiled out. So it's supposed to make clearer ice. There's a myth about Hot water freezing faster than cool water. But again that's both true and false. What happens with hot water to make it appear to freeze faster is that it evaporates in the freezer---the water cools down from the quick evaporation---and freezes 'faster' than the same original volume of cool water. But the ending volume is less...hot water looses it's volume via 'steam' in the freezer so what's left does freeze faster than a cool water tray of the same starting volume.because there's just less water left to freeze after it steams off.

(This could make a good science project for a kid with a digital scale and ice trays---measure the hot water volume and freeze and measure the resulting ice compared to cool water with the hypothesis of the cooling and evaporation of the water in the tray).

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boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 3 years ago

The better explanation might be that hot water freezes more efficiently that cold water. Have you ever experienced the winter thrill of frozen water pipes? On Christmas Eve? When you have to pay the plumber several times his already generously high rate to come and unfreeze them, he'll go straight for the hot water line every time. Hot (not boiling) water is more highly oxygenated. than cold. Why not make it a science experiment? Fill a tray (and I still make ice the old fashioned way, too) with hot water, freeze it overnight, and see what happens when you pop the cubes loose. And please let us know the result!

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added over 3 years ago

okay, it sounds like i have a little science experiment in my freezer this weekend! i'll report back later.

SKK, the splintered ice cubes are melting too fast and diluting my fizzy water-pomegranate juice concoctions. not the end of the world exactly, but i'm also perplexed by the drastic chage in the final product.

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boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 3 years ago

I'm really glad you posted this question. Now that I think about it, mine don't exactly splinter, but they do crack out in pieces. I always fill my trays with cold water. I'm going to try the same experiment. Thank you, vvv!

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Sam1148

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added over 3 years ago

@boluangere.
SCIENCE!
To make it an objective test you'd have to remove some variables. "hot water" from the tap in most homes has lime and other little starter crystals.
So, if you want to bring down to hot vs cold. You'd have to use the same source...distilled water. One heated and one cold.
The reason hot water lines freeze in the winter is the same why ice cubes sticks with old ice cube trays----little mineral bits that make a 'seed' to form crystals.

It's not oxygen for that; ice needs a 'seeding point' to form a crystal. Supercold..pure water won't crystallize without that. (to a point).

On my windows in the winter..when the condensation starts and it's super cold outside and there's a film of water...If you touch it; that starts a chain reaction (disney fantasia like and the entire windows frosts over in seconds; it's magical).


Tho boiled distilled water does make clear ice for the same reason.

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Sam1148

Sam is a trusted home cook.

added over 3 years ago

okay, it sounds like i have a little science experiment in my freezer this weekend! i'll report back later.

---
Get one new tray a rubbermaid and use that for the in the freezer.
I'm pretty sure you're old trays have some micro fractures, lime scale, etc.

In fact make another test group' Soak one of the problem trays with white vinegar for a couple hours--that will remove the lime micro scale. (but if the surface is scuffed up with micro fissures that won't help; so there).

hheheh...we're really getting down here aren't we?

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boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 3 years ago

You know, Sam1148, some of us just want ice. And low science vs. high science. And the chill of an an interesting foodpickle. And running water on Christmas Eve.

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boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 3 years ago

Hey, vvv, have you tried your experiment yet? I haven't - catered 2 weddings last weekend, and am still recovering. But I will one night this week.

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Greenstuff

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added over 3 years ago

I have for a whole lot of years had one relatively hard plastic tray, in which the ice splinters. And a bunch of softer trays, Rubbermaids, that don't have the problem. I'll go along with the little-cracks hypothesis.

On the other hand, I've tried the hot vs. cold experiment and never achieved purity with tap water. I'd also go for the boiled, distilled hypothesis.

Fun stuff. I hope for some detailed reports.

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added over 3 years ago

i haven't been able to do the full-on experiment because i haven't been able to get new ice cube trays yet, but i did use filtered water in one of the old trays, and the cubes came out whole.

the mystery deepens.

as soon as i make ice in the new trays, i'll report back.

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added over 3 years ago

i'm still trying to figure it out, but what i've learned so far is that in the old trays, the ice cubes are sometimes fine and sometimes not. the mystery deepens!