If you have ever wondered how long will it take for water to freeze and my ice cubes to be ready, you are not alone. Whether you are having a party or want some cold iced tea, one basic ingredient is a must-have, ice. Understanding how long it will take for ice cubes to freeze from water is a bit of a science and the right timing. Everything you need to know about how quickly water freezes will be covered in this article.
I bet you are thinking - "It is just ice. No big deal." Well, have you ever been to a party where there isn't enough ice? I bet you have. Or the ice isn't ready and melts immediately when added to your drink - only to water it down. Yuck! So fear not, you will never run out again and you will have plenty of it in plenty of time. Just as long as you know how much you need and how long it takes to freeze water into ice cubes, all your parties will be a hit.
I have answered a lot of questions on this blog, but I have actually had a few friends text me over the last year about ice. I will not name names as they may be embarrassed. I soon realized that if a few people have reached out to me in my circle of friends, many more people may have the same questions.
Whether your ice maker is broken and you are now making it in trays or if you want to freeze large bottles for your camping cooler, making ice is a science. Therefore, it is important to know how it works and how long it takes to make ice. I hope I have answered all your questions in this post as you read through it.
- Normal Freezer Settings
- Freezing Water at 0°
- Top Tip
- Freezing Water in Ice Cube Trays
- Freezing Water in Automatic Ice Makers
- Freezing Water in Other Containers
- Party Ice Molds & Rings
- Freezing Water Bottles
- How To Freeze Water Faster
- How Much Ice Do I Need For A Party?
- Best Iced Drinks & Cocktails
- How Long Does it Take For Water to Freeze?
Normal Freezer Settings
To help figure out how long it will take your freezer to make frozen ice cubes, it is best to understand the temperature settings. Water freezes at 32° Fahrenheit or 0° Celcius. However, that is not what temperature our appliances are kept at for maximum efficiency.
The proper setting for most home freezers is to be set at 0° Fahrenheit or -18° Celcius. This is to ensure food preservation and ensure there is no spoilage. This is true for deep chest freezers and your upright refrigerator and freezer combination appliances. Therefore, most ice is produced at these temperatures in commercial and home freezers.
Freezing Water at 0°
Home freezers are set at 0° Fahrenheit or -18° Celcius. If we use these temperature settings, this article will share what you can expect for the time it will take for water to freeze. It will be based on these temperatures and on the container material, size, and the water itself actually. Take in all those variables and the water freezing business can be predictable like good food science.
Water expands as it freezers. Therefore, you will never want to freeze a completely full ice tray, container, or water bottle. Make sure that you save plenty of room for the ice to freeze so you have no broken containers or explosions in your freezer. I have saved you from many a mess, you are welcome. Also NEVER FREEZE IN GLASS! It is dangerous.
How Much Does Water Expand as it Freezes?
When liquid water begins to cool, it contracts rather quickly. It does so until about 4° F. After that, it expands at a slower rate until it reaches the freezing point. When water is completely frozen it has expanded about 9%. Therefore, I suggest having about 10% additional empty space in your container or ice tray for that expansion.
Freezing Water in Ice Cube Trays
If you have ever wondered how long it takes water to freeze in an ice cube tray, you are not alone. If you are making ice in your home freezer that is set at 0°F, here is how long it should take to have frozen ice cubes ready for a cocktail, iced water, lemonade, or your favorite cold drink.
- Standard plastic 12 cavity ice cube tray - takes 4 hours to freeze.
- Standard metal 12 cavity ice cube tray - take 3 hours to freeze.
- Plastic reusable ice cubes - if you have those small individual plastic reusable ice cubes, used in cocktails mainly, those typically take 2-3 hours to freeze.
Freezing Water in Automatic Ice Makers
Automatic ice makers started making their way into home appliances back in the 1950s. This was about 100 years after it was first invented by Dr. John Gorrie. These ice-making machines are not only convenient but also make ice faster than a traditional plastic or metal ice tray.
What we currently know as an automatic ice maker today makes a lot of ice quickly. For quality automatic ice makers, you can expect about 8-10 solid ice cubes every 90 minutes. That is about 16 cycles a day for a total of about 150+ ice cubes.
Freezing Water in Other Containers
Given the freezer at 0°F, it takes different amounts of time to freeze water in different-sized containers. Common items you may freeze water in are plastic water bottles, silicone molds, metal pans, or Tupperware containers.
Silicone bolds or containers that have cavity sizes similar to ice trays will take about 4 hours for the water to freeze. If you are freezing in something larger like in a muffin pan, it will take about 6 hours for the water to freeze. Remember that water expands as it freezes, so always leave empty space in your container for that. NEVER USE GLASS!
Party Ice Molds & Rings
There are occasions when you are not in need of ice cubes. If you are hosting a party that calls for a punch bowl, large floating ice in a fun silicone mold shape may be the best option. A great easy party ice idea is to freeze water in a bundt pan. Here is how to make a bundt pan ice ring mold for a punch bowl, follow these easy steps.
- Add sliced or whole berries to a bundt pan or ring mold in a single layer. Go with what will match the flavors of your party punch.
- Optional - add some juice or food coloring.
- Fill with water so that the mold is no more than 80% filled.
- Place in freezer for 4-6 hours. It will depend on how deep the pan is filled with ice. For each inch of water it takes about 90 minutes for it to freeze. So 4 inches would take at minimum 6 hours to get to a frozen state.
- To unmold, run it under warm water for a few seconds until is melts a bit and loosens. Add to your punch bowl and pour in the punch and fruit ingredients.
Freezing Water Bottles
If you are camping or going to the beach for the day, you may want to freeze almost full plastic water bottles. They make great large "ice blocks" to keep food cold & safe. We do this all the time and it works great. Depending on the size of the water bottle, it will take longer to freeze bigger ones.
Remember water expands so if the water bottles have no empty gap near the cap, you may need to open each and pour yourself a bit of water out of each one. See the chart below for how long it will take bottled water to freeze in your freezer at 0°.
|Water Bottle Size||Hours until Frozen|
|8 ounce bottled water||3 hours|
|16 ounce bottled water||4-5 hours|
|1-liter bottled water||8 hours|
|1-Gallon bottled water||best done overnight|
How To Freeze Water Faster
For the fastest ways to freeze water at home, try one of these kitchen hacks. These tips and tricks will help you get that party ice ready in no time. Also, if you are looking to make ice cubes but are without any trays, there are other ways to make ice. Here are some ideas on How to Make Ice Cubes without a Tray.
- Use a Metal Container - metal conducts heat faster than plastic or silicone, so metal ice trays or containers will freezer your water faster.
- Boil the Water First - it sounds counterproductive but it is not. Boil and then freeze immediately since hot water freezes faster. Be careful!
- Use a Shallow Container - freezer water in a thin layer like on a sheet pan or baking dish. The bigger surface area with little depth will ensure the water freezes quickly.
All of these calculations are based on my own experience plus the usage of an online calculator. If you did not find what you were looking for today in this article, check out the Water Freeze Time Calculator I have used. It is pretty scientific but still fun to figure out.
How Much Ice Do I Need For A Party?
Ice is important for a party. You need some likely for multiple reasons. You may need it in an ice bucket to use for making drinks. You may also need some to keep the food you are setting out cold. And you may also need some to fill up an ice chest, cooler, or bucket to place canned or bottled drinks into. All of these add up to questioning exactly how much ice should I make or buy for a party?
Here are some estimates based on party needs for ice. I hope this helps and as most good hosts & hostesses know, always err on the side of having extras! Check out this Ice Estimator for all your answers.
Best Iced Drinks & Cocktails
Now that you have all the ice you ever wanted, time to mix up a few yummy drinks. Here are my favorite drinks, cocktails, and smoothies. I highly suggest the iced coffee which is uniquely sweet, creamy, cool, and minty.
How Long Does it Take For Water to Freeze?
- 12 compartment standard ice cube tray
- empty bottles or containers
- Fill the ice cube tray evenly with water. The timing is based on a standard 12 cavity ice cube tray. ** Larger or smaller cubes will alter the freezing time. See the sections above for freezing water in other items like muffin tins, party molds/rings, water bottles,
- Place in the freezer on a shelf or other flat area. Let freeze for 4+ hours until solid.
- Twist and/or flip tray to remove frozen water/ice cubes.