What Is Chewy Ice?

When looking at buying an ice maker, you may have seen that may say that they can make “chewy ice”.

But what even is this? And how can ice be chewy?

Here is everything you need to know about this type of ice, from where it came from to what you can use it for, and why people love it so much.

What Is Chewy Ice?

Also known as nugget, pebble, pellet, and Sonic ice, chewy ice has become very popular in fast food joints and now has somewhat of a cult following, with many Facebook and Reddit groups being dedicated to this type of ice.

Though we are not sure where chewy ice came from, it first gained popularity two decades ago, when fast-food restaurant Sonic invested in Scotsman ice machines, and suddenly everyone become addicted to this type of ice.

According to chewy ice lovers, three main things make this type of ice better than any other ice.

1. It Is Very Satisfying To Chew On

This quality is where chewy ice gets its name. Many people love chewing on ice anyways, as they may like the cold feeling or the taste of ice.

But this type of ice has the benefit of not hurting your teeth like other types of ice would.

There is also less risk of cutting the inside of your mouth. Some people who chew on this ice have even described it as feeling like you’re chewing on a cloud.

2. It Is Light And Airy

When used in drinks, this ice floats to the top and distributes more evenly than cubed ice.

It’s hard to see how this makes a real difference to your drink though as all ice naturally floats, but again chewy ice lovers swear that they can taste a difference.

3. It Stays Intact Longer

Possibly due to air pockets in the ice that can have an insulating effect, this type of ice keeps its form longer than crushed ice and so takes longer to melt, though it does get softer over time.

Chewy Ice VS Crushed Ice – What’s The Difference?

At first glance, chewy ice appears to be similar to crushed ice. When you look closely though, you’ll see that chewy ice comes in small “nuggets,” whereas crushed ice does not.

Crushed ice is manufactured from big cubes that have been smashed, whereas nugget ice is made from flaky ice that has been compacted into small “nuggets.”

As a result, there is a large amount of air in the ice “pellets.” These air pockets not only make the cube crunchy and chewy, but they also allow the liquid in your drink to pass through.

This not only appeals to ice eaters but also increases the surface area of the ice that comes into touch with the beverage, causing it to melt much more quickly than a cube.

However, it still melts slower than crushed ice, as it has been compacted into smaller cubes that have less surface area than crushed ice.

How To Make Chewy Ice

If you want to test out chewy ice for yourself, there are a few different methods you can try.

How Sonic Makes It – The Scotsman Ice Machine

If you want to go straight to source, you could invest in a home Scotsman ice maker, which is just a smaller version of the ones used in Sonic restaurants.

These are still quite large though and will take up a decent amount of space in your kitchen (check out this one for example).

When making ice in a Scotsman ice machine, though the process of making square cubed ice and chewy ice is completely different, they both begin by making flake ice.

In a typical Scotsman ice machine, water is pumped through a metal cylinder that is cooled by a refrigeration system.

Due to the intense temperature, the water begins to freeze in little sheets that jut out from the cylinder’s side.

An auger spins at the same time, scraping the cylinder’s inside walls. The expanding ice spikes are removed and pushed to the top of the auger as it does so.

If the process ended here, we’d call the finished product flake ice, which is commonly seen in fresh seafood and produce displays.

A household nugget ice maker, on the other hand, goes a step further by compressing the ice flakes in a small tube.

The ice either breaks off naturally into smaller pieces or is cut into roughly consistent chunks by a blade at the tube’s end, where an extruder tip is positioned.

Home Ice Makers

Aside from the Scotsman ice machines, several smaller ice machines advertise as being able to make this type of ice.

However, as you have seen there are many different names for chewy ice, and different manufacturers may use even more terms for this ice.

The most common term used by brands however is “nugget ice”, so if a machine advertises this then it will probably make the ice that you want.

There are a few ice makers that have been specifically designed to make this type of ice, like the Opal Nugget Ice Maker and the Brilliance Nugget Ice Machine.

This second option is still quite large, but it is made by the same company as Sonic ice makers, so you know it will do a good job at making good chewy ice.

Make It Yourself

Chewy ice is known to be very hard to make without a machine, but still, there are a few methods you can test out to try and get good chewy ice.

One of these is to put ice in a bag and crush it with a hammer, though this will make more crushed ice than chewy ice, and people who like chewy ice say that this just isn’t the same.

Chewy ice enthusiasts have come up with their own method for making chewy ice without the use of a machine.

For this method to work, you will need to invest in a Lewis bag. This is a sturdy canvas bag with a fold, flap, or tie that you can fill with ice cubes and beat until you get ice fragments.

A Lewis bag works best as the canvas won’t rip or leak while you hit it, and it keeps the ice from going all over the place. Lewis bags are also relatively inexpensive, take a look at this one.

Here’s The DIY Method Of Making Chewy Ice:

  1. Freeze carbonated water into ice cubes. Make sure that the water you are using is very fizzy
  2. Once completely frozen, place in the Lewis bag
  3. Hit each cube just once, it should break apart into nice, chewy ice.

What Can I Use Chewy Ice For?

Chewy ice is one of the best types of ice you can use in juices and cocktails, as the ice socks up the drink and makes it even more cooling and refreshing.

It is also a good choice of ice if it is a really hot day.

Not only will it make your drinks very cold, but chewing on the ice is also a good way to cool yourself down according to chewy ice lovers.