Use A Paper Bag To Prevent Ice Cubes From Sticking Together

Have you ever released your homemade ice cubes from their trays into a large container, only to find later that they've melted and re-frozen into a giant lump? Then, of course, comes the task of either pulling them apart by hand or hitting them with a hammer or icepick to return them to usable pieces. Though crushed ice is perfect for slushies and drinks that require a little dilution, like mint juleps, it doesn't quite work with other beverages, where a slower melt with bigger cubes is preferred. The solution to this clumping problem is to store your ice cubes in a brown paper bag because the material will absorb some of the extra moisture in the freezer that causes them to stick together as they sit in their container. 

Paper is a hygroscopic material, which means it readily takes up and retains moisture in the surrounding environment. So, any size bag will work when employing this simple technique as long as it's made of paper and is large enough to accommodate your ice cubes. To get started, prep your ice as normal using a plastic or silicone ice cube tray or ice maker, if you have one. Then, empty the cubes into the bag, fold over its top, and pop it into the freezer.

Store ice cubes in the coldest part of the freezer

Storing the bag at the bottom of your upright or chest-style freezer where it's colder will minimize the risk of the ice cubes melting and sticking together. The paper will also absorb some of the extra moisture in the air, preventing the cubes from clumping. Bear in mind that ice can absorb smells, and while the bag can mitigate this, it's a good idea to make sure other containers of food in the freezer are well sealed to prevent odors from permeating through it.

This paper bag trick works so well that you can forgo buying bags of ice at the supermarket before a party if you'll be entertaining a large crowd. Simply prep and stash away your ice cubes well in advance without worrying about needing to smash an unwieldy lump of ice with a rolling pin mere moments before your guests arrive. All you need to do is freeze your ice in stages over a few days, each time adding more to the paper bag, and you'll have beautifully separate cubes ready for punch bowls, cocktails, and sodas. And there's no reason not to have a trio of bags to store plain, novelty-shaped, and infused ice cubes to lend your summer drinks a little attitude.