Most of us can get ice free. That’s if we own a refrigerator at home. As a matter of fact, modern refrigerators come with superb icemakers and dispensers that are ideal for daily use and small parties.
However, some of us require larger volumes of ice occasionally. That could be for any reason, such as hosting an outdoor party, picnic, or event or preserving fresh produce and other perishable food. If you’re going fishing somewhere, obviously, you’ll need an icebox to carry home the fresh catch.
Sometimes, ice blocks are also necessary to ensure that the mortal remains of a beloved person don’t decompose till burial or cremation, though this is fairly rare in the US.
Ice has several uses. It is used in chillers and iceboxes to keep ice cream, soft drinks, beer and certain foods at the right temperature for consumption. Ice is also used to decorate tables during parties with ice carvings and colouring.
While all of us need ice frequently, a lot of people don’t know what ice is made of and the reasons we love it so much.
Understanding Ice and Its Properties
Actually, ice is something that occurs in nature. It has been existing on Earth as well as other planets in our solar system long before human civilization began millions of years ago.
Ice is one of the three stages of water. When water is cooled to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or zero degrees Celsius, it becomes ice. If water is heated to 100 degrees Celsius, it becomes water. The changes in Earth’s temperatures in some parts of the world cause water in ponds, lakes and rivers to freeze, and ice is formed.
Different Uses of Ice
Since ice has a temperature of zero degrees Celsius, it is very useful for humans. At such low temperatures, bacteria, fungi and viruses generally cannot spawn or spread. Hence, ice is used to preserve perishable foodstuffs such as fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, meat and pork, among others. In brief, the lower temperature of ice stops and slows down the decomposition by microbes.
At the same time, nature has a wonderful law. Objects surrounding a hot or cold substance always tend to become warmer or cooler. The same principle works with ice. When we store water, soft drinks, beer and other beverages, they begin losing heat. This effect is known as chilling. We can also slow the melting of ice cream and preserve cooked food by storing it in ice.
Additionally, ice is also useful to treat victims of burns, pains and high fever. While ice applied on burns can help reduce tissue damage, we’re all aware of cold packs used to lower fever or even alleviate conditions such as toothaches. Sportspersons injured during a game are often given quick treatment with an ice pack.
Ice carvings are a skill by themselves that’re taught to chefs and restaurant crew. They carve large blocks and slabs of ice to create decorative designs for buffet tables, bars, and beverage counters. A vessel made of ice can be used to serve cold soups such as Gazpacho.
As a matter of fact, most industries in the world require ice for some of their processes. Though it’s a naturally occurring substance caused by low temperatures, it can also be made artificially at homes and factories using large freezers or even small fridges.
Types of Ice Available in the USA
Before you go shopping for ice, it’s important to know the type you can use. This could help you make better use of ice and save a lot of money too.
Industrial ice isn’t for human consumption or domestic use. It’s made by adding Ammonium Chloride with water. This helps the water to cool faster and solidify as ice to create blocks that are useful for carrying, preserving or chilling anything from food and drink to use in industrial processes. While you can use this ice to keep stuff chilled, it’s not advisable to consume industrial ice
Food Grade Ice
Generally, food-grade ice is made using only treated water, mineral water or spring water, among others. In some cases, the icemaker adds small quantities of Sodium Chloride (common salt) or Potassium Chloride (rock salt). This ice can be consumed safely by humans. Usually, you can consume such ice cubes or crushed ice by adding it to drinks or using it as a vessel for serving food that requires chilling.
Coloured ice is useful for carvings. You might not be able to get coloured ice easily since there’s a low demand for the product. Coloured ice is made by hotels, resorts and restaurants and used for carvings as decorations on buffet tables and bar counters. This ice can be consumed since it’s usually made of food colour and water. Anyone with a fridge can easily make coloured ice at home.
Dry ice isn’t for food or other such uses. That’s because dry ice is made of Carbon Dioxide and other gases. It’s used for creating the smoke effect at events and parties. Dry ice also has some industrial uses. You can easily buy dry ice in the USA. You can see my post on where to buy dry ice in the USA if you need this product.
Cost of Ice in the USA
Let’s now find the average prices of ice cubes in the USA. The prices I’ll mention are indicative only. The actual price might vary according to your location and the seller.
Industrial ice: can cost between $0.50 and $2 per kilo. However, you can’t buy small quantities of industrial ice: you’ll have to buy whole blocks that weigh some 140lbs, or roughly 70kg would cost about $2 or more, depending on the location and delivery methods.
Food-grade ice: is cheap and costs only about $0.50 for a kilo. This depends on whether you’re buying ice cubes or ice in fancy shapes such as stars, triangles, spheres or ovals. The price of fancy-shaped ice can go as high as $1 per kilo and is usually available only at select stores that sell party requirements.
Coloured Ice: This kind of ice isn’t available commercially. However, you might get lucky and find some coloured ice at stores that sell party stuff. Or, you can simply make some at home using water and food colour. The cost of making coloured ice at home is almost negligible if you have a fridge.
Regardless of the type of ice you buy, it’s recommended to go only to reputed stores and buy from famous brands, where possible. That’s because ice from unknown makers could be contaminated with bacteria and amoeba or fungus that causes food poisoning and other sicknesses. E-Coli and sometimes, Salmonella, a deadlier pathogen.
42 Best Places to Buy Ice Near You
Having said that, let’s see the best 42 places where you can buy superior quality ice any time of the day. Again, this could depend on your location since some stores in your area might not be selling ice.
A few 7-Eleven round-the-clock stores in the USA stock and sell bags of ice cubes of 5lbs or 10lbs each. However, I suggest you check with your nearest 7-Eleven, before rushing there to buy ice.
Walmart sells convenient-size packs of ice cubes and crushed ice weighing five, seven and 10 lbs each. The price depends on the location. However, buy early during summer since stocks can run out.
All stores at Wegman’s sell ice cubes and blocks. These are available from reputed manufacturers and in small to large packs. The heaviest would be 20 lbs.
Most stores of Albertson’s across the US sell ice cubes, blocks and crushed varieties in five and 10lbs packs. The most common are their 10lbs packs.
Target sells 10lbs and 20lbs bags of cubed ice and crushed ice around the year. Their prices are also in line with those I mention above.
All stores of Costco sell ice. You can buy 10lbs and 20lbs packs from their stores.
7. BJ’s Wholesale Club
Another place to get 20lbs ice cubes and ice slabs is BJ’s Wholesale Club. You can also find crushed ice at some of their stores.
One more brand of the superstore, Kroger, also sells ice at all their locations. They usually stock 10lbs and 20lbs packs.
At Safeway, you can get four sizes of bags containing ice cubes: five, seven, 10 lbs and 20 lbs. However, 10lbs and 20lbs are the commonest.
Eight-pound and 10 lb ice cube bags are available at every Hy-Vee store in the USA. You can also shop for their ice online and carry it later if needed.
Here’s a list of 33 more stores where you can easily find ice cubes, ice slabs and crushed ice in the USA.
- Giant Food
- Giant Eagle
- Price Chopper
- Sam’s Club
- Whole Foods
- Cub Food
- Food Lion
- Harris Teeter
- Fred Meyer
- BP gas stations
- ExxonMobil gas stations
- Chevron gas stations
- Casey’s General Stores
- Casey’s General Stores
- Family Express
- Kwip Trip and Kwip Star
- Cumberland Farms
Some Quick Service Restaurants in your area could also be selling ice for home and party use at some locations. However, check with them beforehand to avoid disappointment.
Buying from IPIA Members
You can also order ice directly from some companies that’re members of the International Packaged Ice Association or IPIA. They have a website www.packagedice.com, where you can find some of their members that could sell you high-quality and safe ice for consumption and home use.
However, I also suggest you call the icemakers in your area to find out if they can supply the quantity to need directly. Usually, most companies will accept only larger orders of ice due to logistics and other operational reasons.
Precautions While Buying Ice
Here’s a list of some precautions to observe while buying ice from any store. That could help protect your family, friends and you against food poisoning and disease due to contaminated ice.
- Ensure that you buy from a reputed store.
- Never buy leaky bags of ice since they could be contaminated.
- Check the date of manufacture on the ice bag, where possible.
- Store ice in a proper place at home or office to ensure it doesn’t catch any flavours or odours.
- Refrigerate ice at home as soon as you can.
IPIA’s slogan says ‘Ice is Food’. Indeed, it is if we consider the number of uses of ice for our daily food and drink. The list of 42 best places to buy ice near you would prove helpful in buying this essential food item for us that’s free of contamination and harmful pathogens.