How do you keep ice cubes from clumping together in your freezer? One way to do so, is to consume them within a few weeks. Learn more in this quick guide on how to get the most out of your ice.
Ice helps keep you cool during the summer months and is a key ingredient in some desserts and dishes. Thus, it can be frustrating to open your freezer and find that the ice has stuck together and the only way to get them apart is by breaking it or chiseling at it with a knife. This situation is especially difficult when you have guests over and you are hoping that food preparation goes by very smoothly.
Ice clumping in the freezer is not uncommon and there are quick solutions that you can do. As much as possible, make sure your ice is new and keep from leaving it outside the freezer. There are also some important steps to cleaning and organizing your freezer so that it maintains its quality and the quality of its contents over time.
#1 Never keep more ice than you consume in 1-2 weeks
Whether you make your own ice or get some from the store regularly, don’t keep it in your freezer for more than 1-2 weeks at most. If ice has been around for longer than that, it has a tendency to frost because the temperature of the freezer fluctuates every time the door is opened or closed.
When the freezer door is opened, the temperature rises because cold air escapes and humidity, which contains moisture, enters your freezer. Excess moisture freezes over and when that happens it can easily turn into frost, causing your ice cubes to stick to one another.
#2 Never leave your ice outside the freezer
The minute you take your ice out of the freezer, the melting process begins because the temperature around the ice is a great deal warmer than the temperature in the freezer. Once it starts melting, the water acts like a natural binder. Thus, when you return it to the freezer, it will freeze on its own, but because there is some liquid between the ice cubes, it will end up clumping together.
This is also why your store-bought ice cubes are more likely to clump after a few hours in your own freezer, because they’ve been thawing for X amount of minutes while bringing them home from your local grocery store.
#3 Keep your freezer well organized and defrost regularly
When you’re caught up in the busyness of everyday life, it can be tempting to toss everything into your freezer, close the door, and forget about it. Nevertheless, if you want to keep your freezer in good shape and let its contents last for some time, you need to take good care of your freezer.
We made a complete guide on how to properly organize your chest freezer, and below are a quick summary of the best advice we’ve found to really work:
- Remove frost regularly. According to The Spruce, you need to defrost your freezer regularly. If you have a freezer that doesn’t defrost automatically and want to maintain its efficiency, you need to defrost it every time it builds up a quarter-inch of ice along the interior walls. A lot of people defrost their freezer at least once a year, but that all depends on your usage habits.
- Reduce the number of times you open your freezer. As discussed earlier, the more you open your freezer, the more you allow moisture to seep in. As much as possible, open your freezer only when you need to.
- Don’t keep the freezer door open for too long. The longer your freezer door remains open, the more warm air enters which will cause your freezer to have a hard time setting the right temperature. If you have difficulty finding the contents of your freezer, it might be good to label your food so you don’t spend so much time with the freezer door open.
- Store only cool or cold items. Hot foods will introduce humidity into your freezer. Have them cool at room temperature first before placing them in the freezer.
- Don’t leave your freezer too empty or too full. Frost easily builds up in freezers that have too many items or too little. As a general rule, Hunker recommends storing no more than 2-3 pounds of food for every cubic-foot of freezer space (source).
- Use the right kind of storage containers. Not all containers are created equal and some of them can contribute to frost buildup instead of minimizing access to air. If you’re using plastic containers and plastic bags, make sure they are the appropriate size for the amount of food they are carrying.
- Make sure the temperature remains consistent. This goes for both internal and external temperatures. According to Consumer Reports, your freezer works in accordance with the temperature that surrounds it (source). If your freezer is outside, in the garage, or a hot area, it might have to work overtime to maintain a cool interior. Likewise, if your freezer is exposed to cold weather, it might shut off, thinking that it is already maintaining a freezing temperature.
If you’re wondering why your freezer isn’t freezing like it used to, check out our guide: Freezer not freezing? Here’s 7 reasons why