Ice machines can be the most water-wasteful machines that you have in your restaurant, more than patrons or dishwashers. Ice machines use water for more than just making ice. In a perfect world, it takes 12 gallons to make a fraction more than 100 pounds of ice. In the real world, it takes between 18 and 200 gallons of water to make 100 pounds of ice.
Make Model Gallons of Water Energy Star
Ice-O-Matic Ice 0250A 35.8 No
Scotsman C0330MA-1 18 Yes
KoolAire KD-0250A 22 No
Manitowoc ID-452A 20 Yes
With the emphasis on energy and water efficiency, machines that earn the Energy Star designation are ones which come close to the 12 gallon mark.
How do ice machines use extra water?
Most ice machines have a rinse cycle to remove loose deposits. Most water has some mineral content in it even when it is filtered. Over time, the mineral content settles into the equipment and causes problems until it is rinsed out with ice machine cleaner or when the ice machine parts are scrubbed clean by hand.
Clear ice and specialty ices
The ice that comes out of a normal freezer is opaque, but many of the cubes you find in restaurants are clear. The reason is that you can get a clear cube by partially thawing and refreezing ice in cycles. This removes the air bubbles that cause the ice to look cloudy. To do this requires extra water to thaw the cubes out.
The softness of nugget ice in particular makes it easier to chew, but the process uses more water to create each individual cube. This type of ice is used in hospital settings where it’s crucial that the patients do not choke on their ice.
There are two types of ice machines: water cooled and air cooled. The water cooled systems have a separate water line that is different from the one used to make the ice. The air-cooled systems are usually somewhat larger than the water-cooled systems, as the air cooled systems rely on outside air to cool the condensers.
Water-cooled ice machines are better for the hotter climates where the ambient air temperature ranges above 80 degrees F on a continuous basis. They also might be more ideal in situations where there is a lot of grease and soot in the air, as the air cooled system relies on taking in outside air. Water-cooled machines save a little energy, but the water usage usually makes the energy savings moot.
Water cooled systems, whether they’re ice machines, refrigerators, or otherwise, are usually once-through water systems. This means that once water is used to cool the equipment, it is then flushed down the drain. Some newer refrigeration systems use a closed-loop system which recycles the water on a continuous loop, but these are not as cost effective as air-cooled units.
The best thing that you can do for water efficiency on your ice machine is to use an Energy Star certified air-cooled machine. These machines have been certified to use less water in their systems while simultaneously staying efficient with their water usage standards.
Mark is from IceMachinesPlus.com with over 10 years of experience in the restaurant and bar industry. With an extensive background in restaurant industry and entertaining writing style Mark is focused on providing quality information and advice to contractors and purchasing managers about the best practices on choosing the right type of ice machine for your client.