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Massive Eutectic Ice Cube Tray

Instant second round of ice...
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Ice cube trays are a ubiquitous part of la-di-da lifestyle. Right now, I have five of them in rotation, and frankly, that's barely enough to supply my fastidious gin drinking requirements. I could buy more. They're not expensive. They do however, take up space. My freezer is tiny by American standards. In London it's an extremely well insulated studio with remarkably good frontal access, £1950 PCM. Understandably, I don't want more trays, it would require a whole second column and cause argument about frozen chicken stock storage.

The problem isn't really about space... just capacity. While we can quite easily motor through 5 trays of ice in 4 hours, the other 20 hours a day the freezer is having a relaxing time of it and the ice just sits about, like a person with a permanent contract. Now, go and look at an ice cube tray, it's got a whole lot of space underneath, good for airflow I suppose. So. Fill it. Fill it with stuff. Fill it with stuff which only just freezes at normal freezer temperatures*, about -20. Make sure there is enough of this stuff to totally freeze a freshly refilled tray. From memory, a 22% salt water solution should freeze at -20C, so a roughly equal mass of salty water at -20 should get regular tap water below freezing point.

Now, you walk to your freezer, dump out an ice cube tray and re fill it. It's frozen within a minute or two of being in the freezer.... you still have four more... you have effectively doubled your batch-to-batch ice making capacity with a small increase in space.

* I actually thought if this idea 15 years ago, as a tedious undergraduate, I called a local engineering company and asked how much it would cost to make a 5 kg copper ice cube tray. I abandoned the idea in favour of warm drink and financial solvency. Eutectic is the cheaper and smarter way to go. Moral of the story... don't give teenage boozers access to infinite ice. Spoils them.

bs0u0155, Jan 15 2016

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       I remember old ice cube trays made of aluminium, these were close to this idea. I didn't see any of these for years, just plastic ones. Surely the cost is a factor and the plastic trays are easier to demold, is like a compromise between low freezing time (metal trays more or less massive) and demoulding (plastic and other flexible materials). I like the idea , I am going to see if I can get an aluminium ice cube tray since this is not fully baked yet. [+]
piluso, Jan 15 2016
  

       I like the idea of a cast copper ice cube tray - I suppose I could compromise on bronze, which might be more practical*


[*] - less impractical
hippo, Jan 15 2016
  

       // I suppose I could compromise //   

       Those are not words that a true halfbaker should ever speak.
8th of 7, Jan 15 2016
  

       Ooh, eutectic is a good word.   

       This sounds pretty good - maybe it should be described as eutectic *and* copacetic?
hippo, Jan 15 2016
  

       //*and* copacetic//   

       Hey! I learned a new word. Now I'm going to unlearn it. Its dangerous. Before you know it I'll accidentally insert that word into the metabolism review I'm writing... I'll be up late, get a bit desperate... be unable to find the appropriate reference and before you know it acetoacetate will be metabolised to acetate via copacetic acid by copacetic acid decarboxylase. The arrows will get drawn and in 24 years time, when metabolism is fashionable again, some experimentalist will have all the idealism scienced out of them by discovering the crap I added to the literature.
bs0u0155, Jan 15 2016
  

       //I like the idea of a cast copper ice cube tray - //   

       I wanted to get it machined out of billet. The cost of the billet alone was, prohibitive. Gold would work nearly as well, incidentally. If anyone has any spare ice-cube tray sized gold billets hanging around I'll happily take them off your hands.
bs0u0155, Jan 15 2016
  

       As an added bonus, for those who don't use ice very often and the ice cubes evaporate and start tasting funny, these trays could be stored in the freezer with no water. Does anyone have an educated guess as to how long it would take to refreeze? The "minute or two" in the idea text sounds optimistic to me. I'm sure you'd get some ice at the edge of the cube pretty quickly, but I suspect it would take a while for the cube to freeze solid. Smaller ice cubes would be acceptable to reduce the time to refreeze, though that might reduce the overall ice capacity of the tray.
scad mientist, Jan 15 2016
  

       //Does anyone have an educated guess as to how long it would take to refreeze?//   

       There's a lot of factors in play here. My standard plastic trays, when re-filled, take quite a while, especially when stacked on top of one another. The plastic is insulating, the stacking messes with the airflow. The freezing time from tap to solid is about an hour when it's on the wire shelf alone. Now, the eutectic tray has a couple of things going for it. The water is in contact with the most conductive material I can reasonably make it out of. So you have a liquid, in contact with a solid, the other side is a solid which is about to phase change and become a liquid. If you make the eutectic component right, it should have pretty phenomenal heat performance meaning that it will stay at -20.... How fast... not sure. But, it's friday in the lab. So, I have 3 litres of antifreeze solution in the freezer... and I'm going hunting for an aluminium ice cube tray.
bs0u0155, Jan 15 2016
  

       // But, it's friday in the lab. So, I have 3 litres of antifreeze solution in the freezer... and I'm going hunting for an aluminium ice cube tray. //   

       I love it when armchair speculation degenerates into real world experimentation. I'd give you another bun if I could.
scad mientist, Jan 15 2016
  
      
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