It is a universal fact that water has no expiration date. And since ice is merely frozen water, why would it ever go bad? You might think storing it in the freezer for as long as it is not required is completely okay.
All of us confidently drink iced beverages at different restaurants. But have you ever entertained the idea that ice in your beverages could be contaminated? Guess what? Ice can go bad and can be contaminated. In fact, the contamination of ice can also lead to several diseases.
So, can ice go bad? Yes, it can go bad. Well, water doesn’t spoil, but when contaminated with pollutants and harmful microorganisms, it does get spoilt. The same is the case for ice. If there is a presence of stale air in your freezer, it can contaminate the ice stored in it.
In this article, we will explore how ice can go bad, as well as the factors involved in spoiling it. Additionally, we will also discuss various ways of preventing ice contamination.
Can Ice Expire?
Suppose you have stored your ice cubes in your freezer for a very long time, and some guests are coming to your house. When they drink an iced beverage you served them, the ice cubes in them taste terrible. What do you think could have happened?
The main reason behind this degradation in the taste of ice cubes could be the presence of spoiled air in your freezer. This air, when absorbed by the ice cubes, can spoil their taste.
How does ice go bad?
Just like food, ice can also be spoilt by microorganisms; its taste also degrades upon been spoiling. This is why age-old ice is not healthy for your consumption.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, the presence of stale air in the freezer will spoil the ice staying for a long time, as ice will absorb the stale air.
Another reason behind spoilt ice can also be water used for making ice; it might have been contaminated by bacteria beforehand. This will result in the formation of spoilt ice, which can even lead to food poisoning on consumption.
Sometimes people fall sick on the consumption of ice produced by dirty ice makers. The plastic tubes in ice makers and soda machines have different types of liquids passed through these tubes.
Sugar and other substances could be clogged in these tubes, favoring the growth of pathogens like harmful bacteria. The ice makers can also be contaminated due to rusting of machinery inside them.
Now, you could be wondering the after-effects of consuming spoilt ice. It might sound surprising, but if the contamination of ice is severe, it can even cause death.
How are ice makers contaminated?
A cold environment isn’t an ideal place for toxins and pathogens like bacteria to grow. However, in a dirty ice maker, bacteria grow, and toxins are produced.
In this section, we’ll be discussing the substances that can contaminate ice makers.
Mold, slime, and dirt
The ideal conditions for mold and slime to grow are a place with moisture and food. In an ice maker, the moisture is provided by the machine, while the food source is the kitchen.
Whenever someone cooks food, there is the presence of sugars, yeast, and grease in the air. These particles accumulate in your ice machine and end up becoming a source of food for mold and slime to grow.
If there is a growth of mold in your ice maker, you can easily identify it by the observation of the formation of black patches inside.
On the other hand, the growth of slime can be identified by observing the presence of pinkish-colored patches. If the growing slime is left untreated, it can result in different colored growths, such as brown, green, or black.
Mold and slime can grow right where the ice is dropped from the machine, which leads to the contamination of the ice. Even though mold and slime do not cause much harm to people, it will be terrible if these contaminants end up in your beverages.
If a health inspector ever catches hold of a dirty ice maker with significant mold and slime growth, he or she will certainly send you a violation notice. Such an unfortunate incident is problematic for your business; it can send your customers away and lead to monumental losses.
How can you prevent the growth of mold and slime in ice makers?
You can prevent the growth of mold and slime in the ice makers by regularly cleaning them. Cleaning the machines twice a year should be enough to prevent the extensive growth of mold and slime.
But if there is a presence of dust, flour, yeast, or any other particles in the air, the machine needs to be cleaned more frequently.
If you do not keep your ice makers clean, it can also lead to the growth of hazardous pathogens or germs like E. coli, Salmonella, and Norovirus, along with slime and mold.
The growth of these pathogens can lead to serious illnesses.
How to prevent the contamination of ice?
If you’ve gone through the last sections carefully, you must have learned that the contamination of ice is a much more serious problem than it might sound like at first. However, like most problems, this one also comes with a solution.
Below, we are going to discuss some measures you can take to prevent the contamination of ice:
1. Use a resealable bag
You can start taking a step to prevent ice contamination by putting ice in resealable bags. Using these bags can help you in keeping away all the moisture content, as well as any amount of air and disgusting odors from the ice.
It will keep the ice fresh and minimize the chances of spoiled taste.
However, if you’re not sure if a reusable bag can keep out all kinds of odor, air, or moisture content, you can also fill the bag with water. Furthermore, immersing the bag in a bucket full of water can eliminate the presence of air in it as well.
Now, you can peacefully place your ice cubes in the freezer for storage. Even a vacuum sealer can store ice safely without allowing air and moisture to enter inside.
2. Use a portable ice maker
When a portable ice maker is used, ice can be produced only when it is required in small amounts. This eliminates any possibility of storing ice, leaving no room for contamination.
In addition to ensuring the safety of the ice, the portable ice makers are also cheaper, come in variable sizes, and are extremely easy to set up.
3. Clean your ice maker regularly
Cleaning your ice maker is a fairly simple task, and we’re going to guide you through it step-by-step for your convenience:
Step 1: In a contain, prepare a 1:1 ratio mixture of vinegar and water.
Step 2: Once the mixture is ready, you can use it to wash the walls of the ice maker properly and drain all the water.
Step 3: After draining out all the water, rinse your machine well so that all the remnants of vinegar are gone.
Step 4: After the washing process is over, let your ice maker dry for about 20-30 minutes before refilling it with ice.
4. Dispose of ice from dysfunctional freezers
Suppose your freezer has been defrosted unintentionally, and you have no idea what to do with the ice inside it. Should you use it or discard it? The latter is always the right answer in these cases.
It is because while defrosting, the water infused with the flavor of different substances might drip into your melting ice.
This will, in turn, add a nasty taste to your ice cubes.
Why do ice cubes turn white?
When impurities are present inside the ice cubes, sometimes they began to emerge. This results in the shrinking of ice cubes, and they turn white.
Although the whitish ice cubes aren’t fatal, they can pull in all the dirty and unwanted odors from their surroundings, which leads to the spoiling of ice. Thus, these ice cubes should be disposed of.
Storing ice on ice trays: a good or a bad idea?
If you plan on storing ice, then you should not store them on trays because:
1. Evaporation: When you store ice cubes on their trays, they get evaporated. It is because whenever the doors of the freezer are opened, small amounts of ice get evaporated.
Gradually, after some time, all of the ice gets evaporated.
2. Keeping all the flavors away: Storing ice cubes on trays can lead to the infusion of different flavors into the ice. You can keep all of the flavors away from ice by using a freezer bag.
This will prevent the ice from taking in any unpleasant flavor or odor.
As we reach the end of the article, we have learned that even ice, which is made by freezing water, can go bad. Contamination of ice occurs only when it is exposed to odors of various substances, by hazardous pathogens, and so on.
If you don’t want the ice in your freezer to contaminate, you must be extremely careful while using ice makers, particularly about its cleanliness.