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A Clear Advantage: Selecting the Right Ice Machine for Your Business

By September 17, 2020November 29th, 2020No Comments


If you’re in the foodservice or hospitality industry, you might spend a lot of time thinking about water, ice, and your ice-making equipment. Water chemistry can be complex and we’re here to help you have a better understanding of it so you can find the best water treatment solution for your business.

First, let’s talk about how water quality affects ice quality and how it can impact your equipment’s performance.

waitress with a mask taking orders outside

Product Quality

With ice, water quality problems have nowhere to hide. Sulfur, iron, chlorine and other contaminants can cause unpleasant tastes and odors to ice, and by extension, the beverages that the ice is used in. Particulates contribute to inconsistent formation and cloudy, unappealing ice. If you start to notice this, so will your restaurant and foodservice customers.

Equipment Performance

Poor water quality can increase maintenance downtime and shorten the life of your ice machine, both of can be added to expense to your already thin margins. Properly treated water reduces scale buildup and helps reduce corrosion. Selecting the right water treatment technology that protects your equipment and improves operational efficiency is a clear advantage that you will appreciate.


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Water’s Characteristics and Its Common Contaminants

Ice is 100% water, but water itself isn’t just H2O. Water is a natural solvent, carrying away particles of whatever it encounters along the way. It’s these particulates, chemicals, and contaminants that can impact ice quality, ice consistency, and equipment performance.

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) is a combined measure of all organic and inorganic substances dissolved in the water, including minerals, salts, metals and other particulates. High TDS levels can cause cloudy ice and unpleasant taste.

Hard Minerals The most common and expensive water-related problem with ice makers is limescale buildup which is made of dissolved calcium and magnesium ions. These hard minerals, along with other dissolved solids, are forced out during the freezing process and create a rock-like layer of scale that can reduce performance and increase maintenance and downtime.

Particulates Fine sediment, rust and other particles provide a catalyst for scale buildup and will wear on your equipment.

Chlorine While adding chlorine to water makes it safer to drink, it also contributes to corrosion in ice equipment and can give ice an offensive taste and odor.

Iron In addition to giving water an unpleasant metallic taste, having iron present in the water used in your ice machine can lead to corrosion.

Alkalinity is water’s capacity to neutralize acid. High alkalinity can indicate an increased potential for hardness minerals to form scale; low alkalinity can indicate increased potential for corrosion.

pH is water’s balance of acid and alkaline substances and can be an indication of whether it will be scale-forming or corrosive.

Chlorides Even at low levels, chloride ions can penetrate the passive film on stainless steel and trigger corrosion.

Slime As ice equipment draws in air, naturally occurring yeast and mold comes with it. This slimy mix can quickly expand, causing loss of performance, decreased efficiency, equipment malfunction and contamination.

The first step in finding the right water treatment solution is conducting a comprehensive on-site water analysis to determine the specific level of particulates, chemicals, and contaminants in your water. A water analysis is a “snapshot” of water characteristics at the time and place the sample was drawn. Although municipal water reports have value by measuring general safety and potability, they commonly combine samples from multiple sources and may not take seasonal changes into account. Therefore, municipal water reports alone may not provide an accurate picture of the water at your specific location.

Here are a few questions to consider:

  • How frequently does your equipment require service, and at what cost?
  • How are downtime and service interruptions affecting your business?
  • Are water-related problems covered under the equipment warranty?
  • Are you looking for consistent quality across multiple locations?
  • Is scale buildup affecting the performance of your ice machines?
  • Are particulates causing your ice to cloud or taste off?


Optimal Water Quality for Ice Formation

The chemical and physical properties of water have a significant impact on ice quality and ice-making equipment. Optimal water quality can drastically reduce water-related problems and support years of consistent, trouble-free equipment performance.

Although we do not have enough time to cover all the water variables that can affect local water quality, for the sake of simplicity, here is a limited list of primary optimal parameters for maximizing ice quality and reducing water-related equipment problems:†

pentair optimal water quality for ice formation graphic




Technologies that trap and hold particulates that can cause cloudy or bad-tasting ice. Different filtration medias excel at removing different contaminants, and the finer the filter, the more particulates are removed.

In addition to Pentair® Everpure’s proprietary bacteria-inhibiting Micro-Pure® II filtration media, optional carbonless filtration in Everpure Insurice® systems can help prevent slime buildup and bacteria growth in ice machines and ice bins by allowing some chlorine to pass through.


Inhibiting Technology

Inhibiting systems suspend dissolved calcium minerals in a solution that inhibits them from forming scale and provides a protective barrier that guards against corrosion. These systems also provide chlorine reduction and nominal sediment reduction.

woman bartender with ice in glasses


Understanding Ice Making

Once a water quality analysis has been done and the right water treatment technology has been determined, the next step is to determine what size system will fit an operation’s usage requirements.

You’ll need to consider:

  • Type of equipment used
  • Size of connection
  • Operational capacity/flow rate required

Types of Ice-Making Machines

Some types of ice makers have more of a tendency towards limescale problems than others. In order to select the right system, you need to know what type of ice machine you want to use.

Flake and Nugget Ice Machines To form flake ice, water is frozen in a barrel-shaped evaporator before being scraped off by an auger and collected in a storage bin. Nugget ice is simply flake ice that has been compressed to form nuggets. In a flake ice machine, all the water (12.5 gallons per 100 pounds of ice) is used to produce ice. The minerals and sediment dissolved in the water are forced out during the freezing process, and since they have nowhere to go, either become trapped in the ice or build up as scale inside the machine.

pentair flake and nugget ice machines graphic

Cube Ice Machines In a cube ice maker, water from a sump is continuously circulated over an evaporator where it freezes layer by layer until cubes are formed and then released into a storage bin. As the water freezes, most of the dissolved minerals are forced out and become concentrated in the sump water. This water is then purged from the sump, taking with it the dissolved solids that would otherwise form scale. However, this means cube ice machines use more water than required to produce the ice. On average, 18 to 20 gallons are needed to make 100 pounds of ice.

Penatir Cube Ice Machines


Perhaps the most important and most overlooked component when considering a water treatment system is replacing filter cartridges on a routine basis. If you want to take your water from ordinary to extraordinary— to help keep it that way, make sure to stick with Pentair® Everpure® Replacement Filter Cartridges.


Pentair has set the standard for commercial and foodservice water quality for over 85 years. Today, that standard is the Pentair® Everpure® line of water filtration and RO systems. Customers across the globe trust Everpure® for:

  • Easy, sanitary quick-change filter replacement
  • A single-source supplier of foodservice water treatment systems, with the breadth of product to provide right-sized solutions for any size operation
  • High-efficiency RO systems that provide significant water savings over conventional RO systems
  • Compact, configurable RO systems with capacities from 50 to 880 gallons per day, featuring controlled remineralization or blending valves to achieve the right mineral balance
  • Comprehensive water testing services to ensure recommendation of the right system
  • Total Water Management to help restaurants and other foodservice operations take their water from ordinary to extraordinary and keep it that way

Visit our Business Services Page or email us at for the support and assistance you need to find the right water treatment system for your hospitality or foodservice operation. Business Services Business Services Logo


*Source: Dick Wirz Refrigeration for Air Conditioning Technicians, Cengage Learning, 2018, 2010 p. 350

† These are only general guidelines. For recommendations and requirements specific to your equipment, reference the equipment manual provided by the manufacturer. is a replacement water and air filter company located in the United States. The views and opinions contained herein are solely those of the original author and do not represent Eco Blue Life or its affiliates. This article was originally published on  
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