How Long Does It Take For Ice Cubes To Freeze


How long does it take for ice cubes to freeze? We’ll have the answer, and if you’re in a hurry, we’ll show you how to speed it up. Find out how to freeze ice cubes in a fraction of the time using the Mpemba Effect to do something completely counterintuitive to cut your ice freeze time by at least 15%.

how long does it take ice cubes to freeze pinterest pin
how long does it take ice cubes to freeze pinterest pin

How Is Ice Made?

How ice is made is somewhat of a phenomenon.Ice is water in its solid form. And water begins to turn to ice when it reaches the freezing point. Water also freezes beginning from the outside in and the volume of it increases as the ice forms. This is why your ice cube tray might look like it’s going to overflow when you only filled it half full.

But How Long Will It Take for Those Ice Cubes to Freeze?

The length of time it takes for ice cubes to freeze can depend on various factors.  Here are some of the factors to consider when determining how long it takes for water to freeze. The freeze time for ice depends on these items.

Size of Ice Cubes. How big are your ice cubes? An ice cube that’s bigger will take longer to freeze than an ice cube that’s small.

Small ice cubes freeze faster simply because there’s not as much to freeze. On the contrary, smaller ice cubes will melt faster too.

Surface Area of Ice. The surface area of the ice or the area to be frozen is a factor in how fast the ice freezes. Ice freezes from the outside in. So, ice cube trays that have a larger surface area with air in between each cube will freeze faster than those that simply have dividers.

Freezer Temperature. The temperature inside the freezer matters.  Colder freezer temperatures will freeze faster than warmer freezer temperatures. A standard freezer temperature is 0F degrees or -18C degrees. 

You should use caution though, since the colder the freezer temperature, the greater the risk of freezer burn on items being frozen.

Receptacle Material. The material that your ice cube tray is made of determines how fast the water freezes. For example, when using a plastic ice cube tray, it will take longer for water to freeze than if a metal tray is used.

Minerals and Ions in Water. Salt water or water with any impurities freezes more slowly than pure water.

Altitude. Lower pressure at higher altitudes can slightly alter the freezing point of water allowing it to freeze at a higher temperature.

Accompanying Food in the Freezer. If you’ve just loaded a freezer full of room temperature food, it will take longer for your water to become ice cubes. This is the case because the freezer has to work to cool down the food as well as your water to make ice cubes.

stacked ice cubes
stacked ice cubes

How Long Will It Take for Ice Cubes to Freeze?

How long does it take water to freeze? How long it takes for ice cubes to freeze depends on the surface area of ice, size of ice cubes, and freezer temperature.

But with these variable factors in mind, the average ice cube tray that’s made of plastic and is the standard 12 slot ice cube tray that makes tapered ice cubes takes about 3-4 hours to freeze in an average home freezer.  

In the following sections we’ll provide answers to all your ice-making questions.

What Temperature Does Water Freeze?

Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and 0 degrees Celsius.

How Can I Make My Ice Freeze Faster? 

Chances are that you’re looking for a way to freeze your ice as quickly as possible.  And we understand the time crunch. There are several factors that you’ll want to take into consideration that will speed up the freeze time of your ice cubes and we’ve included tips for freezing water fast. Here’s how to freeze ice faster.

Turn down the temperature. The air temperature of your freezer plays a factor in how quickly the ice will freeze. Obviously cooler temperatures will cause the ice cubes to freeze quicker than a warmer temperature.

And if you do turn the temperature down, make sure it’s just temporarily. Colder temperatures cause food to become freezer burnt faster.

Another word of caution, if you’re using a stand-alone ice machine, be careful to not turn down the temperature too far as this can cause your ice maker’s pipes to freeze which can be a bigger problem.

Use stainless steel trays. Many traditional ice cube trays are made of plastic with plastic dividers. If you want tips to make your ice cubes freeze faster, try using a stainless-steel ice cube tray.

Stainless steel or metal in general, is not insulated like plastic is, therefore, the temperature of the container itself will get colder faster, which will help speed up the rate in which your ice cubes freeze.

Make smaller ice cubes. Making smaller ice cubes will cause the ice to freeze faster than large ice cubes.

Keep freezer closed. When we’re in a hurry for something to happen, the temptation is to keep checking on it. The same is true for making ice cubes in the freezer. But, it’s actually better to keep the freezer closed so the cold air stays in and the warm air stays out. It will decrease the amount of time it takes for ice cubes to freeze.

Boiling water.  Boiling water before freezing it might seem counterintuitive, but it really causes it to freeze about 15% faster than using room temperature or tap water. This is called the Mpemba effect.

Make sure food is already frozen. Make sure the food in the freezer is already frozen. The fact that it’s frozen will help to bring down the temperature of the water, turning it into ice more rapidly. 

plain ice cubes
plain ice cubes

What is the Mpemba Effect?

The essence of the reality of the Mpemba Effect is that a liquid heated to a higher temperature, usually water freezes faster than the same liquid that starts at a cooler temperature, given the same conditions for freezing. 

The Mpemba Effect was discovered by a Tanzanian school boy in the 1960’s named Erasto Mpemba and was later confirmed. Thus, its name.

How Does Hot Water Freeze Faster?

There are four main factors that could be the cause of hot water freezing faster, though the definitive answer isn’t fully confirmed.

Convection.  Convection is the movement of heat through the fluid, that being water, caused by the hotter and less dense material to rise more rapidly and the molecules to move more quickly than cold.

Evaporation. Evaporation could be the cause of hot water freezing faster because according to the definition of evaporation, some of the water leaves into the air, leaving less water behind to freeze, therefore with less water to freeze it freezes faster.

Released gases and minerals.  Water that has been boiled releases most of its gases and minerals as it’s boiled, causing it to freeze more rapidly.

Covalent bonds. In the case of water, the molecular level and bond between hydrogen and oxygen atoms causes covalent bonds which can cause water to freeze faster.

ice cubes with cherries
ice cubes with cherries

Is a Refrigerator Ice Maker Faster Than Ice Cube Trays?

Does and ice maker make ice faster than ice cube trays? Possibly. The thing about using the refrigerator’s built in ice maker is that the freezer remembers to refill and freeze the ice tray automatically, dumping it to a dispenser when ready. It doesn’t require you to manually do it.

And, some built-in ice makers have refrigerant coils in them that directly chill ice trays faster than waiting for the air temperature to do the cooling as is the case with an ice cube tray.

Can Anything Other Than Water Be Used to Make Ice Cubes?

Yes, you can use just about any liquid to make ice cubes. If you don’t want to dilute your favorite beverage by adding ice cubes made of water, consider making ice cubes from fruit juice, vegetable juice, soda pop, and any other liquids that you might enjoy adding for flavor.

Clear ice made with solids such as mint, flowers, cucumber, fruits, may take longer to freeze than water, but add a visual aspect that’s delightful and gourmet feeling.

ice cubes in a glass
ice cubes in a glass

The Benefits of Adding Ice to Your Drink

Though one of the main benefits of adding ice to your drink helps to keep your drink cooler and provides refreshment, ice made from water has no calories, nothing toxic, and helps to get your adrenaline going.

Is a Dedicated Ice Maker Faster Than Ice Cube Trays?

Yes, when we refer to a dedicated ice maker, we are talking about a compact type that you can place on your kitchen counter and that’s its job, it makes ice. But you should know that these are smaller than the traditional commercial ice makers.

Dedicated ice makers are faster because they usually have a metal ice tray that’s attached to compressor coils. Water runs over super cold metal which is what causes the ice to freeze.

How Can I Fit an Ice Maker in My Kitchen?

Fitting a dedicated ice maker in your kitchen might seem like an impossible task. We’re not talking about those huge commercial ice makers like you’re familiar with at hotels.

These ice makers are countertop models that fit under the upper cabinets. They come in various sizes as well as various outputs of ice. If you use a lot of ice, this could be a good solution for you.

What Is the Best Freezer Temperature For Freezing Ice?

The best freezer temperature to freeze ice is 0 degrees Fahrenheit or -18 degrees Celsius. This is also the default temperature for most freezers.

Lower temperatures cause food items to become freezer burnt faster. So, if you lower your freezer’s temperature to freeze your ice faster, make sure it’s a temporary change you put the temperature back.

ice cubes frozen with cherries
ice cubes frozen with cherries

How Long Does It Take to Freeze Popsicles?

Depending on temperature variables and the size of the popsicles, it can take anywhere from a few hours to overnight to freeze popsicles. If the freezer temperature is 0 degrees Fahrenheit or -18 degrees Celsius, it generally takes an average of 2 hours to freeze small popsicles.

Tips for Making Cubed or Crushed Ice at Home

For how to make cubed ice at home, there are a few ways this can be accomplished. One of the more popular ways is to use a traditional ice cube tray, fill it with water and freeze it.

After the ice cubes have frozen, you can remove them from the ice cube tray and use them or transfer them to a freezer safe container to be used later.

If you need to make a larger quantity of cubed ice without an ice maker at home, you can also buy disposable ice cube bags, fill those with water and freeze making several ice cubes at once.

How is Crushed Ice Made

Without a built-in ice maker, crushed ice is typically made with an ice crusher. But if you don’t have an ice crusher, you can crush your ice with a blender or food processor. We suggest leaving a few larger pieces intact so that your ice doesn’t melt too quickly.

An alternate solution to making crushed ice at home is to freeze ice in a plastic bag or desired sized container and then smash it with a hammer or mallet.

How is Clear Ice Made?

If you’ve been to a restaurant and you’ve noticed their beautiful clear ice, you might wonder how it’s made.  Clear ice is ice that’s free from air bubbles. It’s only frozen from one direction and is typically made in a special ice cube tray that’s specifically designed for making clear ice.

Another key to making clear ice is that it needs to be frozen slowly. Not ideal if you’re in a hurry for your ice cubes to hurry up and freeze.

how long does it take water to freeze
how long does it take water to freeze

How to Make Ice Melt Slower

Chances are if you’ve gone to the work of freezing your ice cubes or crushed ice, you’re not going to want it to melt right away.

The best way to make sure that your ice melts slower is to boil the water before freezing it. This removes any air bubbles and makes your ice translucent. You can also consider using bigger ice cubes, a colder freezer temperature, and using a large surface area for the ice to freeze.

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are frequently asked questions that relate to how long does it take for ice cubes to freeze. If you have a question that’s not answered here, feel free to drop it in the comments box below and we’ll be happy to answer it.

Does the container material affect how fast water freezes?

Yes, to some extent the container material will affect how fast the water freezes. For example, a metal ice cube tray will freeze ice faster than a plastic ice cube tray. Metal has no insulation and therefore the temperature of the container itself gets colder faster, helping the cubes to freeze slightly faster.

How to get water to freeze fast?

The two ways to get water to freeze fast are to boil it before placing it in the freezer which causes it to freeze about 15% faster, or to use an ice maker which freezes ice quicker than a standard home freezer.

Ever forgotten to get your ice cubes ready in time for the BBQ?

This simple hack could get them frozen in record time. A woman shocked by genius hack that freezes ice cubes in trays in 30 minutes posted a video on TikTok comparing the freeze time of boiling water compared to the freeze time of tap water. The boiling water is what froze first.

How long does it take a bottle of water to freeze?

A standard 16-ounce plastic bottle of water takes an average of 90 minutes to freeze in a home freezer set at 0 Fahrenheit degrees or -18 degrees Celsius.

How long does it take water to freeze in ice maker?

Most ice makers freeze ice in an average of 2 hours since it’s a dedicated machine.

How long for ice cubes to freeze in silicone?

Depending on various environmental factors that we’ve listed above, ice cubes in a silicone tray take an average 3-4 hours to freeze in an average home freezer.  

How long to freeze ice cubes with hot water?

Making ice cubes with boiling water will freeze about 15% faster than room temperature tap water.

how long does it take ice cubes to freeze
how long does it take ice cubes to freeze

How long to freeze large ice cubes?

The time it takes to freeze large ice cubes will depend on environmental factors and the size of the ice cubes.

How long to freeze 2-inch ice cubes?

A standard 12 slot ice cube tray that makes tapered ice cubes takes about 3-4 hours to freeze in an average home freezer.  

How long does it take for water to freeze at 0 degrees?

The average time it takes for water to freeze at 0F degrees is 90 minutes. The exact time it takes for water to freeze at 0 degrees Fahrenheit depends on environmental factors and conditional factors listed at the top of this post.

How long does it take to freeze ice cream?

Ice cream will take about 2 hours to freeze on average, but can melt in 15-20 minutes.

Does ice freeze faster in an empty or full freezer?

Ice freezes faster in a full freezer because the frozen contents of the freezer help to bring down the temperature of the water freezing it as ice more rapidly. 

Does hot water freeze faster than cold?

Ironically, yes. Boiling water freezes about 15% faster than cold water.


How fast water freezes depends on variable factors such as the size of the ice cubes, the starting temperature of the water, the temperature of the freezer, the surface area of the ice cubes and more.

We trust that having a greater knowledge about how to make ice fast, how to keep ice from melting quickly, and storage methods for ice will help you be better prepared in the kitchen, spice up your summertime cocktails with adequate ice, and be the ultimate hostess at any event.

Other Kitchen Smart Resources:

How Many Grams in an Ounce? + Free Conversion Chart

How Many Ounces in a Cup? + Free Conversion Chart

How To Wash Grapes

How Long Does Bacon Last in the Refrigerator

Best Cheese for Grilled Cheese

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

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