hospital ice

Hospital Ice Chips – How to Make and Where to Buy

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For most of us, the ice chips we were given to suck on and chew on during a hospital stay were the best part of the experience, and you might be craving some ice chips to enjoy at home.

Hospital ice is small, chewy, and for some reason, really tasty and refreshing. You can’t really find similar ice on sale at the store and making hospital ice is not something most of us have done before, but it isn’t all that difficult to do.

How do you make hospital ice?

There are a few ways to make hospital ice, but one of the best ways is to freeze a thin layer of water on a metal baking sheet, and then break it apart with a small twist of the tray, breaking it into hospital-ice-like shards.

If you want to start making your own hospital ice at home, without having to book a stay at the hospital, read on for all the different ways you can do so!

How to Make Hospital Ice

Luckily, there are a few different methods, appliances, and tools you can use to make hospital ice at home, so you likely already have the tools needed to make some.

The benefit of hospital ice, other than it being chewy and refreshing, is that the size of the ice chips are smaller and thinner than regular ice cubes, which means that they take quicker to freeze and make (as well as easier to chew!)

To make your own hospital ice at home, here are various different ways to do so, using different techniques and appliances:

Making Hospital Ice With a Baking Tray

This is one of the easiest, quickest, and surefire ways to make hospital ice at home. You will have some hospital ice chips ready to chew on in under an hour, and the results are almost identical to what you would get when laying in a hospital bed.

What you need:

  • Water
  • Flat baking pan
  • Container


  1. Choose a baking pan to use – a baking sheet is best as it is large and flat, but make sure that the baking sheet will fit into your freezer easily, and it isn’t too wide. Clean out the baking sheet to get rid of any debris or residue.
  2. Pour water into the baking sheet, making sure to only pour in around the thickness that you want your ice chips to be. The thicker the ice, the harder it will be to turn into ice chips.
  3. Place the baking sheet into the freezer, making sure it sits as flat and as straight as possible.
  4. Check on the water after 30 minutes, if it needs to freeze for longer, leave it in for another 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Once the water in the baking sheet has frozen through completely, remove it from the freezer.
  6. Simply hold the baking sheet at either end and twist in opposite directions. This should cause the sheet of ice to shatter and break. You can use a heavy utensil to break the ice up further if needed.
  7. Pour the ice into a container, and keep in the freezer if not using it straight away.

Using this method gives you ice chips quickly, but you might want to leave the ice chips at room temperature for a few minutes before chewing on them, just to make sure they are too cold.

Making Hospital Ice With Carbonated Water

One secret trick to use to make hospital ice is to skip the water and use carbonated water instead!

carbonated water

Carbonated water is full of gas, and when the carbonated water freezes, this gas forms little bubbles, which makes the ice less dense, and easier to chew.

The easiest way to make ice chips using carbonated water is to freeze the carbonated water in a regular ice tray. This will make regular-size ice cubes, but these will be lighter and softer, and easier to chew.

If you didn’t want to use an ice tray, you could pour carbonated water into a plastic freezer bag, making sure to leave around ⅓ room for expansion and seal the bag once you have removed as much air as needed.

This can be placed in the freezer, and once frozen, you can hit down on the bag with a rolling pin or meat tenderizer, gently breaking apart the sheet of ice. The resultant ice chips will be really easy to chew.

The great thing about using carbonated water is that you can use different flavors too, so your ice chips can have a variety of flavors.

Making Hospital Ice With an Ice Nugget Machine

An easy, effortless way to make ice similar to hospital ice at home is to use an ice nugget machine. Ice nugget machines aren’t necessarily cheap, but they are a great appliance to have if you consume quite a bit of ice at home.

Hospital ice is made using a commercial ice nugget machine, so it makes sense that a good ice nugget machine at home will give you similar results.

Ice nugget machines work by pumping water into a freezing metal cylinder. Once the water touches the cylinder, it freezes, and then a spinning auger scrapes the ice off the walls and pushes it out to be compacted into small ice nuggets.

The ice nuggets are similar to the ice you get in the hospital, as it is compressed flaked ice, not like the ice you would make using an ice tray at home.

Depending on how much ice you want to make, you can purchase various size ice nugget machines. Whichever size you do choose, you can have ice nuggets at home, and enjoy their light, soft texture!

Making Hospital Ice With a Blender

You do not want to purchase an expensive appliance if you are only going to be making hospital ice once in a while, and there are cheaper ways to make similar ice using appliances you already have at home.

A quick way to make soft ice to chew at home is to use a blender. You can use ordinary ice cubes for this, such as those bought from the store or ice cubes made in an ice tray.

You simply need to place some ice cubes into a blender (using the blade intended for crushing ice) and switch the blender onto a pulse, crushing the ice until it is at the right consistency.

This isn’t exactly the same as hospital ice, but it will give you smaller ice chips that are easy to chew and which are much easier to eat compared to larger ice cubes.

Some blenders have an ice-crushing function, which takes the guessing work out of it for you, but it is also better to have control of how long the ice is crushed for, so you can have them at the size you prefer!

Making Hospital Ice With a Meat Tenderizer

If you have some stress you want to get rid of, then using a meat tenderizer or a hammer is ideal to get some ice chips!

This is a good option for when you have just had a sudden craving for hospital ice, and don’t want to go through all the effort of making it from scratch and waiting for water to freeze.

All you need are some ice cubes from the store or your freezer, a meat tenderizer or clean hammer, and a plastic freezer bag or clean dishcloth.

Simply place the ice cubes into the freezer bag or in the dishcloth, folding it over to cover the ice, and use the meat tenderizer or the hammer to smash the ice cubes into smaller shards and chips.

You can hammer it enough to have tiny little chips, or you can only hit it a few times to have larger pieces of ice shards to enjoy. If you don’t have a hammer, a rolling pin or a heavy-bottom pot will do!

Making Hospital Ice With a Mini Ice Cube Tray

There are some great mini ice cube trays (I really like these ones from Amazon)you can use to keep little blocks of ice stored in your freezer, and some help to make ice cubes so small that they are similar to hospital ice.

mini ice cube tray

When looking for an ice cube tray to use to make ice similar to hospital ice, look for mini ice nugget trays, or mini ice cube trays. These vary in size, so choose the one that you think would make the ice you would prefer.

To make the small ice cubes even more similar to hospital ice, you can fill the spaces with carbonated water, so not only will the ice cubes be small and easy to chew, but they will be full of bubbles, and light and softer than normal water.

These can be kept in the freezer for whenever you are ready to enjoy some small ice blocks, which saves you from having to make some every time you have a craving for hospital ice, and it saves some space too!

Making Hospital Ice With an Ice Shaver

If you are lucky enough to have an ice shaver at home, then this is a super quick way to get ice that is similar enough to hospital ice, with little effort.

ice shaver

Not only can an ice shaver help you make ice that is easy to chew and eat, like hospital ice, but it can make snow cones and flavored shaved ice for the whole family to enjoy.

While the ice shaver will not make ice exactly the same as hospital ice, the ice flakes it does make are just as easy to chew on, giving you a fairly similar experience.

There are some affordable ice shavers on the market, and it might be a great appliance to purchase if you and your family love ice-based treats in the summer, and if you have a craving for hospital ice every now and then!

Making Hospital Ice With an Ice Cube Tray

It is pretty obvious that you cannot make hospital ice by using a regular ice cube tray as intended, as the ice cubes will be too big, too dense, and difficult to chew.

ice cube tray

However, you can change the way you use a regular ice cube tray to make ice flakes and small ice cubes similar to hospital ice, and it is really simple to do so.

To do this, all you have to change is how much water you pour into the ice cube tray molds. Instead of filling the molds with water, simply pour less in, filling the molds ⅓ full, or even less if you prefer thinner ice flakes.

This not only takes quicker to freeze, but it gives you thinner, easier-to-chew blocks of ice which are similar to hospital ice. The thin ice blocks might even break up into smaller pieces when you pop them out of the ice cube tray, which makes them even easier to eat.

You can also save these ice shards by removing them from the ice cube tray once frozen and then placing them into a sealable freezer bag. Building up your stock of ice flakes this way means that you will always have a stock of hospital ice to enjoy in your freezer!

Where to Buy Hospital Ice

You can’t really head to your nearest hospital and ask them to sell you a bag of their ice chips, so you might want to know if you could purchase it from elsewhere!

There isn’t really anything exactly like hospital ice that you can buy from a grocery store, and the closest thing you can get will either be crushed ice or ice chips.

These are very similar to hospital ice and might be just what you need to fill the ice craving you are having. Ice chips will be slightly thicker and harder than crushed ice, which will be easier to chew, so it does depend on what you prefer, and what your local store has available.

The other option is to purchase ice cubes from the store, and then process them down to a smaller size, either using a blender or a meat tenderizer, to have ice chips ready without having to freeze ice on your own.

Hospital Ice Chips – How to Make and Where to Buy

There is something so refreshing and enjoyable about hospital ice chips, and chances are you are craving some after a stay in the hospital!

Above, we have listed all the different ways you can make hospital ice at home, or ice which is similar to hospital ice. With all the different ways available to make hospital ice at home, you are sure to find one that suits your preferences and the tools and appliances you have to use.

If you do not want to make hospital ice, you can buy crushed ice, or ice chips, from your local grocery store, which are smaller than regular ice cubes, and are therefore easier to chew on, much like hospital ice!

Related Questions

How Do You Make Ice Soft?

The best way to make ice soft is to use carbonated water for the ice, rather than regular water. This is because the gas bubbles allow for air pockets in the ice, making the ice cubes softer, airier, and easy to chew on.

Why Do You Get Ice Chips in the Hospital?

There are various reasons why you might get ice chips in the hospital, but one of the main reasons is to provide an easy way to hydrate patients, with soft and chewable ice chips, who might have a hard time swallowing liquid.

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