The Different Uses for Hospital Ice

Reading Time: 5 minutes Healthcare, Ice Types

The Different Uses for Hospital Ice Easy Ice

Ice is essential for several industries (or else we’d be out of business). When people think of ice needs, it’s easy only to consider beverages, but many other industries need ice for uses that have nothing to do with drinks. Healthcare is one of those industries. Hospital ice is used for wound care, physical therapy, and hydration.

In this article, we’ll go over the typical ice needs for the healthcare industry and the type of ice cubes that perform best in a hospital setting.

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Popular Hospital Ice Types

Before we get into how clinics use hospital ice in a healthcare setting, let’s first talk about the types of ice cubes popular with healthcare.

The average hospital or clinic requires 10 pounds of ice per patient a day. Hands down, the most popular ice makers we see with hospitals and clinics are commercial nugget ice machines, sometimes called an ice chip maker.

Nugget ice (also known as cubelet ice or Sonic ice after the popular drive-in restaurant chain) is prized for its chewable texture, which makes it easy on teeth and melts faster than standard square ice cubes. Nugget ice comes in many sizes, but all are small enough that they minimize the chance of choking. Finally, nugget ice is moldable, allowing it to form fit around small, rigid areas.

Flake ice machines are also a popular choice, especially with physical therapy clinics, because like nugget ice, it’s moldable and easy to chew. Flake ice is primarily used for seafood and salad displays, but it also quite effective in healthcare settings as well.

Let go into the reasons hospital ice is so vital to healthcare industries.


Many patients have a difficult time swallowing liquid, so ice provides an easy way to hydrate. Patients can chew or have ice cubes melt in their mouth to swallow small amounts of water at a time. As patients do this throughout the day, they can stay hydrated without having to drink from a cup or glass.

Nugget ice and flake ice are especially useful for hydrating patients because the cubes are soft and melt faster than large square or crescent cubes.

Since the nugget ice and flake ice is chewable, patients don’t have to worry about hurting their teeth as they bite down on the cube.


Cold compresses have long been the go-to treatment for sprains and muscle pulls – and you can’t make a proper cold compress without ice.

For many large hospitals and physical therapy clinics, an industrial ice maker is more cost-effective and can treat more patients than a small ice therapy machine (which often require additional ice to use anyway).

Ice helps relieve swelling by reducing blood flow to the injured area. The cold also numbs the injury, reducing pain in the process.

Both nugget ice and flake ice are excellent choices for cold compresses for many reasons. For one, their soft texture won’t break through plastic bags, which can leave water to leak out of the bag. The moldable texture of both ice shapes means they can form around tricky to cover areas like knees, ankles, and elbows. Both ice shapes increase the cooling surface area, ensuring that the injury is properly iced.

Physical Therapy

Ice is an absolute necessity for many physical and sports therapy clinics.

Athletes use ice to recover from a long training session or chronic injuries sustained from years of activity.

Besides using cold compresses as we mentioned above, ice baths are also an effective way to recover from strenuous activity. After a hard day of training, muscles become sore. Ice baths decrease inflammation and help improve circulation after a long training session.

Ice baths typically require a lot of ice to maintain. The average ice bath needs about 20 pounds of ice to stay cold.

Just about any ice will work in an ice bath, the goal is to make sure it’s not too cold. Prolonged periods in water that is below 54 degrees Fahrenheit can cause skin damage. Water should be around 60 degrees, and you should never spend more than 15 minutes in the bath. Afterward, it’s a good idea to take a warm shower.

Hospital Ice is a Great Addition to Any Clinic

If you run a healthcare or physical therapy clinic, a hospital ice maker machine is a great way to care for your patients and save money at the same time. Hospitals with cafeterias also need an ice dispenser to serve staff and visitors. We have a wide selection of ice machines with soft and solid cubes.

As the Co-Founder and COO of Easy Ice, John Mahlmeister has been working in the commercial ice machine industry since 2009. Co-headquartered in Phoenix, AZ and Marquette, MI, Easy Ice is the only national provider of full-service ice machine subscriptions in the industry. Since Easy Ice was founded, the number of ice machines under its management has grown to over 30,000 units across 47 states, with no signs of slowing down.

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