Ice machines operate continuously to manufacture large quantities of ice, and while the low temperatures will slow the development of bacteria and algae, it actually provides an ideal environment for many strains of bacteria, which must be controlled continuously to prevent contamination.
Ice machines are central to daily life, whether at home, restaurant, or wherever we have a drink we will have ice in our beverages. Health departments in most cities visit every restaurant on a schedule, and the ice machine is usually the first place they look for potential health issues.
Ice machines operate continuously to manufacture large quantities of ice, and while the low temperatures will slow the development of bacteria and algae, it actually provides an ideal environment for many strains of bacteria, that should be controlled continuously to prevent contamination.
Controlling Bacteria in Ice Making Equipment
Ice makers require scheduled disinfection and wiping down to ensure that bacteria and mold are not allowed to grow in the ice production areas or the storage bins. There is a range of bacteria that survive in the cold environment, including Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, Shigella, and even legionella. There are increasing news events reporting outbreaks that occur in hospital ice machines.
Biofilm usually forms in the ice trays, and is difficult to prevent without a scheduled program. Biofilm is a slimy pink, black or green area that is a habitat for colonies of bacteria species, and serves to protect them very effectively, even from chemicals.
Biofilm is often called bio-slime, which regrows rapidly in moist environments. Ice machines with a “cleaning cycle” often do not disinfect the equipment, and cannot eliminate biofilm and associated bacteria. Stopping ice production to thoroughly clean a machine requires careful scheduling to ensure that ice will be available for the next shift.
People expect that ice won't have a chemical taste, so proper cleaning procedures are important. The cleaning and maintenance process is a frequent and time consuming process that requires a schedule, using safe chemicals and tools that leave no residue. Empty the ice, disinfect the equipment, rinse thoroughly and make sure enough time is available to restore the ice levels in time for customers. Hotels, hospitals and facilities that operate 24/7 need to plan for downtime to properly clean their ice machines, that are usually numerous on every floor.
A chemical-free, safe way to prevent algae growth in ice machines is available, and we'll explain.
An ice machine cleaning guidance document is available here for free to use for developing an ice machine cleaning schedule.HydroFLOW for Bacteria Control in Ice Machines
Electronics have improved life in many ways, including biological and scale control in ice machines. HydroFLOW installs on the circulating water line in minutes, and the pulsed frequency that uses the water to extend throughout the water lines.
HydroFLOW is a small yet powerful electronic device that uses high frequency sound (±150 kHz) to prevent bacteria and algae in water systems. The sustained frequency causes biofilm to release from surfaces where they do not return. Frequencies are commonly used in kitchens to heat water with a microwave. HydroFLOW does not heat water with a frequency, but with the lower range waves will disrupt bacteria and also causes scale to form in water, which cannot attach to equipment and pipes.
HydroFLOW uses water in the system to carry the acoustic signal, which extends throughout a water system to deactivate bacteria and biofilm. The sustained signal provides continuous bacteria control, that saves labor, time and costs related to ice machine cleaning and maintenance.
Flakes of algae do not appear in beverages, and the machines do not develop scale.
Biofilm often attaches to scale in water systems, which is difficult to remove. The HydroFLOW saves time, expense and labor while maintaining bacteria and scale control. Restaurants and homes that use water softeners no longer need them after installing a HydroFLOW.
Scale does not form, and existing scale is removed over time. Bio film no longer forms on the pipes and equipment.
An Ice Machine Success Story
A popular restaurant chain in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area installed HydroFlow on an ice machine that exhibited pink and black slime despite frequent cleaning.
The machine was cleaned and a HydroFLOW S38 model was installed. The ice machine has two ice making panels with a shared water tray. After 30 days, the ice machine was inspected and no algae or discoloration from bacteria was present in the machine.
The HydroFlow prevented new contamination while removing existing bacteria. The restaurant installed HydroFLOWs in all of their restaurants with no biofouling at any locations.
When labor and maintenance was calculated for manually cleaning an ice machine monthly, the cost of the HydroFLOW purchase was recovered within 4 months.
HydroFLOW also eliminates the expense and labor associated with having a water softener, as scale control is managed 24/7 without salt or chemicals.
HydroFlow is patented, effective and operates on less than $10 of electricity per year. It has no moving parts and operates 24/7 to control bacteria and scale.
HydroFLOWs are easy to install in minutes, require no cutting of pipes or interruption of production. HydroFLOW reduces water use, chemicals and energy.
HydroFLOW received the 2015 Innovative Product of the Year award by the National Restaurant Association for applications in ice machines, steam tables, dishwashers and steamers.