3 Smarter Ways To Hack A Bag Of Ice Apart

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While making ice cubes is generally something you can do for free (or free-ish, since even tap water comes at a price when the water bill arrives), there are times when you might need to shell out for a big bag of the stuff if you're going camping or having a party or you just want 10 pounds of Sonic's famously crunchy ice. The annoying thing about bagged ice, though, is that in just the time that it takes to drive home from the store, it can get melty enough that all the cubes will stick together once the bag's refrozen. How do you get them to separate again? You might be tempted to take the bag and whang it on the kitchen counter a few times, but there are better options.


Yes, brute force is actually a good way to pry those ice cubes apart, but your countertops are more easily damaged than another, sturdier flat surface that's also close at hand: the floor. What's even better is that all you need to do is drop that ice bag on the ground and let gravity apply all the necessary force. If you're not a devotee of the 10-second rule and the thought of floor germs, even ones confined to the outside of the bag, gives you the ick, you can always put a towel down before you let go of the ice.

It's hammer time

If you'd like to take a more precise and targeted approach to ice smashing, you can always reach for your handy hammer or rubber mallet.  (Totally unsolicited plug: The Ikea 15-piece Trixig tool kit comes with a hammer and a rubber cap to transform it into a mallet, and it's small enough to slide into a kitchen drawer and be ready whenever clumpy ice calls.) That way, if you only need a small amount of the stuck-together bagged ice, you can just bang off a few of the cubes and be done with it


One caveat, though, when it comes to pounding on an ice bag, is that the hammer may break through the plastic, although a rubber mallet may be less likely to do so than a hammer with a metal head. Still, whichever instrument you use, this is another case where a towel will come in handy. Either wrap the entire bag in said towel, if you've borrowed it from the bath, or spread a dishtowel out over the top. If you manage to confine all of your hammering to the cloth-covered area, this should protect the bag from splitting open as the ice cubes break apart.

An ice chipper is a less scary version of an old tool

Back in the day, when most ice came in blocks and was delivered by an ominously named iceman, it was broken up with a terrifying-sounding tool called an ice pick. While ice picks still exist as barware, they seem to have developed somewhat of a murderous reputation over the years, and not undeservedly. Even though the alleged ice pick that killed founding Soviet father Leon Trotsky was actually an ice ax of the kind used for mountaineering, a search of "ice pick murders" reveals that there have been numerous real ones over the years, as well as some memorable examples in fiction. However, an alternate style of pick also known as an ice chipper can accomplish the same task of breaking up ice cubes but is less likely to terrorize the Amazon delivery person should you answer the door with it in hand.


This far less lethal-looking implement is essentially a multi-pronged ice pick, but the prongs are shorter than the spike on the old-fashioned kind, which has the result of making it not nearly as stabby-looking. In fact, it somewhat resembles an oddly shaped fork, which is a much less menacing utensil. According to Amazon reviews for an ice chipper from kitchen supply maker Winco, this tool not only does a decent job of separating stuck-together ice cubes but can also be used to chop chocolate.