Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Auto-ejecting ice-tray

  [vote for,

(This will perhaps be incomprehensible to the Americans among us, who all seem to own megalithic fridges with ice- cube-making machines built in.)

We have put people on the Moon. We have cured syphilis. We have invented the Selfie Stick. But one thing has remained beyond mankind's grasp since time immemorialable. I refer, of course, to a fully functional ice-tray (or, if you prefer, ice-cube tray).

I have bought simple plastic ice-trays. I have bought sophisticated ice-trays with silicone bases to allow the ice to be pushed out from below. I have bought ice-trays with cunning lever systems designed to eject the ice. All are utter failures. In each and every case, the material of the ice-tray acquires scuffs and scratches, which then lock the ice cubes in place. The only way to remove them is then to run the back of the ice tray under the tap for a few moments.

"Surely we can do better than this?", I hear you ask.

Yes we bloody well can.

Although an ice cube frozen into a tray is an almost immovable object, the force of expansion as water freezes is irresistible (it took me four attempts to spell that, by the way).


The MaxCo. Ice-Tray (we are working on a better name) is an ordinary-looking plastic ice-tray, albeit with a thicker than average base. In the bottom of each compartment is a small blister of silicone rubber, enclosing a small amount of slightly salty water.

The tray is filled as usual, and placed in the freezer. In time, the water freezes, forming the desired ice cube. However, the salty water in the blister does not freeze until some time later. As it does so, it expands by a small amount but with great force, thereby breaking the ice cube away from the walls of the tray. Gadulka! Your ice cubes are now available for the beverage of your choice.

MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 14 2016

Pissy fridges, no ice ice baby :( http://www.cbc.ca/m...repairmen-unplugged
CBC doc on dodgy megalithic fridges, dodgy repairman and other fun in the Great White North [Sgt Teacup, Jan 14 2016]

US 3018636 http://www.google.com/patents/US3018636
[xaviergisz, Jan 14 2016]

US2776546 http://www.google.com/patents/US2776546
Twice Baked [bs0u0155, Jan 15 2016]


       There are flexible plastic trays that are intended to be twisted while upside-down, to make the ice come out. Those have usually worked for me.
Vernon, Jan 14 2016

       And they have usually worked for me, a few times. Eventually, they just crack.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 14 2016

       A slick solution for a time-hono(u)red problem. [(u) inserted for the british audience.] I have no idea if the physics works, but I have a clear image of me pounding with a hammer on a block of fresh ice from the freezer to manufacture pieces small enough to slide through the narrow neck of the water carafe. - Before that we had rubber matrizes generating eye-ball sized ice-apples, and hollow forms to insert a stick and some apple juice to freeze to a delicious ice-on-a-stick - only the kids wouldn't touch it. - Basically this idea melts down to having ice cubes available. I'm all for it.
Toto Anders, Jan 14 2016

       MaxCo. might want to create a Kickstarter go-fund-me proposal to break the ice with the public, and slide one of these ice rigs into every household on the planet.   

       Megalithic fridges aren't all they're cracked up to be; they appear to be designed to piss all over the kitchen floor (see link). So, no solution there.   

       I vote for calling it 'C-Water S'cube Tray', riffing on salty sea water and scuba.
Sgt Teacup, Jan 14 2016

       Wonderful, elegant, energy efficient, useful, cheap, practical and utterly un-american. It can't and won't catch on.
bs0u0155, Jan 14 2016

       [+] My missus buys single use ice bags which are filled from the tap then popped into the freezer. The thin plastic is then broken open to release each individual ice block. I like [MaxB's] idea better as it is reusable.
AusCan531, Jan 14 2016

       Actually, there is a problem, with frost-free freezers, there is significant sublimation, as my girlfriend's "iced coffee ice cubes" of summer 2015 will attest, they're now iced espresso, which I don't think is a thing. When you're saline freezes, it will pop the cube out and expose all sides to the cold dry air. Sublimation will happen about 4x faster, giving you only about 2 months by my estimates. In america, that's about 342 use cycles. My parents however, have one ice cube tray which has absorbed the full smorgasmyriad of freezer smells and tastes. They would be disappointed, well, their weird continental ice-consuming guests would be disappointed.   

       A secret benefit, is that when you remove the ice, the saline in the silicone bump will remain frozen. When you refill the tray, the saline will melt, pre-chilling the water. Hastening the freezing process.... that gives me an idea.
bs0u0155, Jan 14 2016

       ... how about consumable ice trays? just put the ice and the tray in your drink? or perhaps that will have an adverse affect on your single malt 30yr oak aged whiskey?
AndyH, Jan 15 2016

       [Andy] You mean those completely sealed plastic 'ice cubes' which contain some sort of liquid - they're good because they cool your drink without diluting it.
hippo, Jan 15 2016

       [AndyH] no effect at all, because no-one, repeat no-one, has ice in decent whiskey.
pocmloc, Jan 15 2016

       [hippo] yea pretty much baked!
AndyH, Jan 15 2016

       What [poc] said ...   

       // an adverse affect on your single malt 30yr oak aged whiskey //   

       <adds [AndyH]'s name to The List for summary execution when the Revolution comes>
8th of 7, Jan 15 2016

       Just buy up old polar ice cores, and saw off a bit off at a time. If you average out the whiskey/ice mix you claim a vintage of 50 centuries.
not_morrison_rm, Jan 15 2016

       ... and appreciate the delicate texture and flavour of seal hair and polar bear poo ...   

       No, we think not.
8th of 7, Jan 15 2016

       //Sublimation will happen about 4x faster// True, but then the solution is to drink more in order to avoid wasting the ice cubes.   

       //When you refill the tray, the saline will melt, pre-chilling the water.// Good point.   

       Incidentally, I suspect that the reason ice cubes stick so solidly in the first place is that expansion, as the last bit freezes, pushes the ice ever harder against the sidewalls. That's why I like the idea of using additional freezing (of the saline blister) to pop them out.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 15 2016

       D'oh! Just checked the patent linked by [xavier] - it appears that this is, ah, baked. Damn damn damn.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 15 2016

       // <adds [AndyH]'s name to The List for summary execution when the Revolution comes>   

       Seeing as this idea concerns iced drinks, it should be a summery execution instead.
the porpoise, Jan 15 2016

       //it appears that this is, ah, baked.//   

       Twice baked. It's a souffle idea. Another way of looking at it is that those two ideas are so similar, that the silicone is enough to differentiate it. Besides, they're out of patent now.   

       May favorite way of getting the ice out, and this only works once when the cubes are really cold, is to wet (gin doesn't work here) your fingertips and apply them to the top of the required number of ice cubes. They stick and you just lift them out.
bs0u0155, Jan 15 2016

       // the edges of the ice-cubes would instantly melt when taken out of the freezer //. Actually, from my experience with aluminum ice cube trays, a layer of frost will instantly form on the outside of the ice-cube tray, providing enough insulation that you still need hot water to melt them out. That may not be an issue in less humid climates.   

       For what it's worth, the plastic ice cube trays that are in my freezer have been used for over 15 years or twisting ice cube release and have not cracked. I suppose that probably means they have some chemical in the plastic that is no longer allowed which gives them the flexibility needed.
scad mientist, Jan 15 2016

       I think the key is, no skimping. My Rubbermaid trays have been with me since forever.. the Sterilite ones, not so much.
bs0u0155, Jan 15 2016


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