Is Nugget Ice Good for Coolers?

Most of us would have had many positive and refreshing moments with the ice coolers as we generally tend to carry them with us during our camping trips with friends and family. The cooler is a portable cart or an icebox and is also referred to as the chilly bin or the cool box, that helps us to keep our foods and drinks cool when we are on our camping trips. The ice bags are placed in these coolers or cool boxes to help the contents in the cooler to stay cool.

Coolers are great companions on picnics and during vacations and holidays. And during the hot summer months, these boxes can also be of great use in getting cold groceries, such as ice creams and frozen food from the home to the store.

These coolers are generally insulated and their interior and exterior shells are made of plastic, with hard foam in between the plastic layers. They come in different sizes from personal ones to large boxes and are available on wheels. More commonly these coolers are filled with nugget-shaped ice cubes that are appropriate for cooling the coolers appropriately. Before discussing why nugget ice is great for ice coolers, let us discuss what these nugget ice cubes are all about.

About Nugget Ice

Box full of Nugget Ice
Credit: Jordan Keyes

Nugget ice cubes are also referred to as sonic or pellet ice cubes and are great for making blended drinks, smoothies, and other drinks and are great for keeping the contents of the ice cooler chilled as well. Nugget ice is pretty much chewy and is very satisfying to use and chew on.

These ice cubes are also light and airy and they do not melt as quickly as the crushed ice, generally available in the market, and the nugget ice is highly efficient in chilling the drinks quickly.

The nugget ice sounds a lot more like the crushed ice from the refrigerator, but they taste quite great. These ice cubes are formed by layers of flaked ice that are frozen with each other. This process creates pockets of air in the pellet and this is what forms them so chewy and a lot of joy to munch on.

For a long time, these nugget ice cubes were available only in convenient stores, now it is possible to make these ice cubes at home with the help of nugget ice makers. The following are the credibility of the nugget ice cubes.

  • Nugget ice cubes are also referred to as sonic, pellet, pebble, and chewable ice cubes and they have a near-cult following.
  • The nugget ice cubes are airy and light and they float on top of the drinks, and thus they are capable of retaining their chillness for a long time and are great for lining the walls of the coolers.
  • These ice cubes float and distribute chillness more evenly and are thus great for coolers and they are capable of keeping the drinks and the food in the cooler cold for more than 2 hours.

Where to Get these Nugget Ice Cubes From?

You don’t have to run to the convenience store every time to get these nugget ice cubes for your coolers. You can get them sourced either in your home ice maker or commercial ice machines.

  • Commercial ice makers: There are many commercial ice makers in the market that can make high-quality nugget ice cubes in large quantities. The commercial ice maker manufacturers call them different names, such as pearl ice, cubelet ice, and even nugget ice cubes. You can try out the Scotsman UN324 ice maker if you need a quality commercial nugget ice machine.
  • Portable ice makers: There are many portable countertop ice makers that form nugget-shaped ice cubes and they can get a batch of nugget ice cubes in less than ten minutes. You can try out GE Opal Ice Maker if you need a budget countertop option for nugget ice.
Nugget Ice
Credit: Geappliances (Ice produced with GE Profile Opal ice maker)

Coolers are generally capable of keeping the drinks and the food in them at an optimal temperature as they are pretty much insulated. Keeping a bag or two of nugget ice cubes along with food items in the ice cooler helps in keeping the food items chilled for many hours until they are consumed on the picnic or camping trip.

Check out: Best Portable Ice Makers Under $200

Nugget Ice for Coolers

Though the coolers can be lined with many types of ice cubes, nugget ice cubes are optimal to use in the coolers. This is because these ice cubes are light and flaky and they will absorb the flavor of the beverage pretty much efficiently. You can also use the nugget ice cubes to prepare a quick and great drink at the camping site. The nugget ice cubes are also great for making blended cocktails and many different types of bar beverages. And these nugget ice cubes can also be great for chewing and for stopping bleeding from any injury while camping.

Good Reasons Why Nugget Ice is Optimal for Coolers

Nugget ice is extremely versatile and has extensive applications from restaurants to cold therapies in hospitals. It also finds extensive application in coolers and here are some great reasons why this nugget ice is great for coolers.

1. The nugget ice cubes remain frozen and intact for a long time

The nugget ice cubes feature a very fast cooling ability and thus they remain intact for a very long time. Generally, with other types of ice cubes, that release their cooling effect with time, the nugget ice will only get soft with time. This is perhaps the best feature, that makes these ice cubes a perfect choice for soft & hard coolers.

Also, the nugget ice cubes are great for making blended drinks and they are known for their taste and flavor retention ability. You can carry these nugget ice cubes in your ice bags in your coolers to keep the food items cold and to make mixed drinks at the camping site.

2. They do not add additional weight to the cooler

The nugget ice cubes are extremely light and airy and when you carry them in your cooler, they do not levy excess weight on the cooler along with other food items.

These ice cubes are also great on the drinks, as they absorb the flavor of the drink completely. The nugget ice cubes float on the drinks and get distributed evenly in the drink compared with other types of ice.

3. They cool up the food in the ice cooler faster

Fast cooling is perhaps one of the most notable features of this nugget ice. This is perhaps the number one reason why these ice cubes are best for the coolers. The nugget ice cubes have a fast cooling effect and they are great for making beverages, for display, therapeutic, and for other purposes.

Having a bag full of nugget ice cubes in your cooler will help in keeping the food in the coolers cool and are great for making chilled drinks and beverages as well.

A bag of nugget ice in the cooler serves as the best relief for injuries and these ice cubes also renders a fast cooling ability.

These ice cubes are great for cooling different types of beverages almost instantly and as they have high ice to the liquid ratio that will help the users with a ready glass of restaurant-grade iced beverages during camping, pretty instantly.

4. Helps to make frozen drinks on the trip instantly

Who will not like a glass of best tasting drink during the trip, when they are exhausted after exploring the plains? Having a bag of nugget ice in your cooler will help you with a glass of best tasting chilled beverage instantly for your instant refreshment.

Also, the nugget ice when mixed in your drinks will help it to retain its flavor, far better than most of the regular ice types, just because it is porous and is capable of retaining the flavor of the drinks pretty well.

Nugget Ice in a Glass
Credit: 2 Guys & A Cooler

Though it seems like the nugget ice tends to melt faster in a drink, after the beverage gets chilled, we can note that this ice doesn’t melt and actually gets softer as it floats on the drink.

You can also chew it for a flavored ice taste as you sip the drink. Most campers prefer nugget ice in their ice coolers for this reason, as they chew a piece of flavored ice as they sip along with a tasty and refreshing drink.

5. Who said you can’t make smoothies on your hiking trip?

There can never be a perfect replacement than nugget ice while making smoothies, cocktails, and frozen drinks.

These nugget ice cubes are very soft and blend perfectly with the drink, without damaging the hand blender, that you can carry on your hiking backpack. As the nugget ice cubes blend easily and efficiently, there is no delay in making smoothies and perfectly frozen drinks during camping.

6. The healthy element of the nugget ice cubes?

If you feel that you are camping on the hot summer days and your lips and mouth are dry and your skin starts to peel off from dehydration, then a nugget of ice to chew can be an excellent option.

The nugget ice is also healthy for the teeth and the gums as well and this perhaps is one of the best health features that enhances the suitability of the nugget ice for the ice coolers.

7. Other applications of the nugget ice cubes on the coolers

People generally use different types of ice for many different purposes and the nugget ice is one of the best choices to make frozen and blended drinks and also cocktails.

When you pack this ice in your cooler for your camping trip, you know that your food is kept hyper-cool and fresh and you are ready for some frizzy drinks amidst the hot and humid weather.

If you get injured by tripping and falling on your hiking trip, then this nugget of ice can be of immense use in arresting bleeding and reducing the tenderness of the affected area. As nugget ice is more solid and rigid than flakes, they are great for keeping foods frozen and cold for a long time.

There is perhaps one drawback of carrying nugget ice in your cooler for camping, that this type of ice tends to melt faster than other types of ice, and you may have to consume the drink and the food at the earliest, off your cooler.

Read Bullet Ice Vs. Nugget Ice: Learn the Difference.

Final Words

One pro tip to pack your cooler with nugget ice is that, place the ice bag filled with the nugget ice at the center of the cooler so that they will last longer without melting and will also keep everything in the cooler colder for a longer time.

Ice bags can also be placed at the top of the cooler if you want everything under it to remain cold, but this can make the ice packs melt faster than intended.

To maximize the cooling function, try adding bags of nugget ice in-between items as well, as they are small and compact and can fill the air spaces efficiently while concurrently keeping items cool and fresh.

I'm Sara Wilson, the founder, and author of HomeyCart. I'm also the head of the expert team that tests various ice makers and brings the best advice.

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