The description of flake ice can vary depending on manufacturers and geographical area. It is basically defined as a group of ice types with irregular particle sizes and fall into scale ice and granular ice. Scale ice are large, flat and thin pieces commonly used in commercial fishing industries while granular ice (flake) are very small pieces that resemble coarse snow used for gentle packing and rapid cooling. It is favoured due to its ability to suit a wide range of applications and does not freeze into lumps during prolonged storage above zero.
For food-related establishments, it is used for chilled food display at buffets or supermarket as it provides more cooling surface area than any other type of ice. As ice only cools upon melting, the thin shape of flake ice accelerates the melting process therefore providing faster heat transfer. It is most suitable for seafood as its flat shape will not create indentations in fish that cause it to be unsightly. It can also be applied to maintain the integrity of vegetables, fruits and meat during storing and transporting. Even baking industries add ice to dough, particularly for heavy dough production like pizza crusts that will be frozen before baking. Easily blended into mixtures, it melts rapidly to minimise the heating effects on yeast and other ingredients. Due to its fine texture, it would not cause any damage to the mixing equipment. A high percentage of ice to water ratio makes flake ice light and chewable as it has a lot of little air bubbles to soften the crunch and is therefore ideal for drinks.
A flake ice maker uses a mix of brine and water to make small pieces of ice in irregular shapes by running water down a cold surface of 0°C. The water is kept running down the surface until the desired thickess is reached. Then, the ice slides down a wired grid and is cut into the right shape.