Normally I’m not much of a germophobe, but there’s something about the idea of slimy ice that gives me the willies. I think the assumption most people make is that since ice is frozen, it’s automatically clean. Once you’ve seen the insides of a few neglected ice machines, you might change your tune.
Did you know that the industry-recommended standard for ice machine maintenance is once per month? Although for some ice-users, monthly sanitation may seem a bit obsessive-compulsive, it is a good idea to put your ice machine on a regular maintenance schedule. Depending upon water quality, environment, and usage, twice yearly or quarterly maintenance is a good bet.
Ice machines have two main enemies: mineral build-up and contamination by bacteria or other contaminates. Preventative maintenance helps keep these issues under control and your ice clean and healthy.
Mineral Build-up (Scale): Ice machines use potable water, which is clean and safe for drinking, but it contains minerals that constantly leach out during the ice making process. These minerals build up on the mechanisms of the ice machine, slowing the ice-making process. This means your machine has to work longer to make the same amount of ice. This wastes electricity and causes more wear and tear on your machine. Eventually, the build-up will cause the machine to stop producing ice altogether. Twice per year maintenance is recommended to keep mineral build-up down to a manageable level.
Bacterial or Other Contamination: The other – and even more icky – ice machine enemy is contamination by bacteria, airborne particulates like dust or pollen, and general human contact. These contaminants can cause an unsanitary environment in your ice machine, sometimes causing slime or other unpleasant ice conditions.
When the ice clinks in your frosty glass, you don’t want to think about hordes of bacterium swimming for their lives in your beverage. So, for the sake of all who partake of your ice, please clean and disinfect your ice machine regularly. And if you don’t, can you let me know who you are, so I can avoid ice from your establishment?