Modern day refrigeration techniques were first implemented until around 1830, when ice-storehouses and iceboxes became available. Individuals would go out with axes or saws and harvest ice to keep the food within their ice-storehouses fresh. This method—despite its innovative intentions—failed to commercially succeed, as physically harvesting ice with simple tools was a very dangerous practice.
The very first pioneer of the ice trade was Frederic Tudor, a New England man who speculated financial gain by shipping ice from New England states down to places such as the Caribbean islands and southern states.
Although Tudor lost a significant amount of capital during the genesis of his business, he succeeded after he engineered the construction of icehouses in Charlestown, Virginia, and Havana. In doing so, he brought down the wastage of water on his ships from 66% to 8%.
Today, the commercial usage of ice is primarily tailored to industries such as food storage and processing, chemical manufacturing, and consumer produced ice. As approved by the FDA, ice production for consumers has been an upward trend in the grocery industry since its origination, due to its convenience and practicality. For most, producing ice on a hot summer day in an impossible task, and having ice stocked at grocery stores and other consumer markets quickly became a necessity.
The majority of commercial ice machines today produce three different types of fragmentary ice: plate, tubular, and flake. Many different industrial techniques are implemented to create each type of ice. You can see the paramount results of the engineering of ice just by walking to your refrigerator and turning on the icemaker.
Although most icemakers today do not trudge the snowy wilderness plains of their homelands to find producible ice to cut, in certain areas of its modern usage such as snow sculpting, individuals can still be seen grafting icy terrain with swing saws in an effort to collect ice from rivers. More specifically, the act of using a swing saw to collect ice is trademark of the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, and during the harvesting period it is possible to witness individuals collecting ice from the frozen surface of Songhua River, China, each year.
What’s so fundamental about the ice industry isn’t really the product itself, so to speak, but the innovations that ice and refrigeration have brought to modern industries. Countless businesses that rely on refrigeration and cooling—grocery industries, for the storage of their products, scientific industries for the keeping samples fresh and accurate, for example—simply would not exist the way that they do today, if at all. The simple pioneering of ice has brought upon a whole technological revolution, in terms of the way things have changed due to its long-term presence.
While the ice industry seems small, in 2002—fourteen years ago—there were over 450 recognized ice-making companies across the United States, generating a total revenue of almost $600 million.
It would be crude of you to think that the ice industry as a whole is a burnt out operation. It’s the polar opposite. Literally. You’ll change your mind after staying at an ice hotel.