What's up with those hollow ice cubes they serve on airplanes?

Perhaps the most trivial question of all time. When one gets a cold drink on a commercial flight, the ice cubes appear to be hollow cylinders rather than solid cubes. Obviously there must be some deep reasoning behind this. Anyone?

More surface area and faster drink cool down?

That, and smaller volume so they freeze faster. In addition, the hole was the location of the freezing coil, which would also let them freeze faster.

WAG: The automatic icemaker has trays shaped like that so that they can be unloaded automatically more easily.

It’s called “tube ice”. The ice is formed in vertical tubes where it runs in a sheet down the inside of the cold tube. The ice freezes from the outside in, until there is only the small inner hole left unfilled. The ice tube is then chopped into pieces. It is supposed to be the most efficient way to create ice, resulting in a smaller, lighter machine for a given capacity.

The above should read “where water runs in a sheet…”

You mean it’s not to save weight?


I have seen similar ice shapes from ice making machines in bars. The reason, as has been said is the way the machine works (more surface)

I do think that saving weight is part of the reason. Because of the extra surface area, the water freezes faster, as other posters have mentioned. But for the same reason, it also cools down the drink faster, and melts to drinkable water faster, thus being more efficient all-round.

I hate it when people put a whole bunch of ice cubes in their glass so that the drink gets very cold, and then half the ice is still there at the end of the meal and must be discarded. Tube ice is really the most efficient way to go.

When I was a tad, the had ice cubes like this at the country club pool and the JCC pool. Whenever I went, my friends and I would make bee-you-ti-ful diamond rings with the ice. In my seven-year old mind, the advantage to the country club and JCC and the promise of high life and sophistication was all wrapped up in ice rings.

Unfortunately, my family did not belong to the country club or the JCC, so most of my swimming was at the public pool. No ice rings. Not even a snack bar. This is why I am the bitter class warrior you see before you today.