How Cold is Ice Water

Just How Cold is Ice Water? Breaking Down the Chilly Facts

Few drinks provide more instant refreshment on sweltering days than a glass filled to the brim with crisp, ice-cold water. But when we say ice water is cold, just how frigid are we talking? This article explores the ideal temperatures for chilled ice water, how factors like ice type and size affect the coldness, plus how it stacks up against other frosty beverages.

The Ideal Ice Water Temperature

So what’s the perfect, most thirst-quenching temperature for ice water? The ideal chill level is:

  • Around 34°F to 40°F (1°C to 4°C)

This keeps water ice-cold without turning into semi-frozen slush. It also allows drinking straight from the glass without brain freeze.

Aim to maintain ice water within 34°F to 40°F (add ice as it melts) for optimal refreshment factor without being too teeth-numbingly cold.

How Does Ice Water Temperature Compare to Other Chilled Drinks?

How does ice water stack up against other refrigerated beverages temperature-wise?

  • Tap water from fridge dispenser – 38°F to 45°F
  • Store-bought bottled water – 33°F to 39°F
  • Chilled white wine – 45°F to 50°F
  • Beer from cooler – 38°F to 42°F
  • Fountain soft drink with ice – 36°F to 42°F
  • Iced tea or lemonade – 30°F to 38°F
  • Ice cream float – 22°F to 30°F

Properly chilled ice water falls squarely in the ideal beverage temperature range for maximizing refreshment. The melting ice imparts added cooling not found in other cold drinks.

Factors That Affect Ice Water Temperature

What determines how frosty your ice water gets? Key factors include:

Ice to Water Ratio

The more ice added, the colder the water. Maximize chill factor with a higher ice-to-water proportion.

Ice Shape, Size and Surface Area

Smaller cubes or crushed ice with greater surface area melt faster, making water colder than large industrial cubes.

Ice Temperature

Colder ice lowers drink temperature more. Use freshly made or well-frozen ice. Avoid old, melted ice.

Water Temperature Before Adding Ice

Chilling warm water requires more ice melting than already cool water. For coldest ice water, start with cooled water.

Glass or Container Insulation

A well-insulated cup or bottle keeps chill longer than glass by slowing melting.

Environment Temperature

Expect ice to melt faster and water to be colder in hotter ambient temperatures.

Ice Water Temperature Experiment

To test how these factors affect ice water chill, an informal experiment was conducted:


  • 1 liter water at room temperature – 72°F
  • Regular ice cubes, crushed ice, and ice spheres prepared in freezer
  • Cups of different insulation levels
  • Indoor environment at 70°F and outdoor at 90°F


  • Prepare three glasses with the different ice types
  • Add ice at 1:5 ratio to room temperature water
  • Stir and measure temperature after 5 minutes
  • Record effect of melting on water volume
  • Repeat procedure making only one change of chilled water


Ice TypeStarting Water TempTemp After 5 MinsVolume After 5 Mins
Cubes72°F58°F4 oz decrease
Crushed72°F51°F8 oz decrease
Sphere72°F60°F2 oz decrease
Cubed45°F40°F1 oz decrease

Key Takeaways:

  • Crushed ice chilled water fastest due to greater surface area
  • Spheres melted slowest while cooling decently, retaining more liquid
  • Starting with cooler water required less ice melting and stayed more stable around 40°F
  • Insulated cups slowed melting and temperature change

So use small or crushed ice, chilled water, and insulated cups for coldest, longest-lasting ice water!

Tips for Optimizing Ice Water Coldness

Based on factors that impact chill, tips for maximizing ice water temperature include:

  • Use small or crushed ice for faster melting and cooling
  • Add 15-30% more ice than you think necessary
  • Start with water pre-chilled in fridge rather than warm tap water
  • Submerge ice fully rather than floating it
  • Stir well to evenly distribute chill and melt ice faster
  • Add a little cold water as ice melts to maintain ratios
  • Use insulated cups or tumblers to maintain coldness

With the right techniques, you can enjoy ice-cold water that stays crisp and refreshing even on hot sunny days. Stay hydrated in style without dilution!

FAQ About Ice Water Temperature

Does water get colder than 32°F when ice is added?

No, the freezing point of water is 32°F. Ice chilling water in a drinkable state can’t lower the temperature below the freeze point or it would turn solid.

Does ice water get colder with salt added?

Yes, a little salt lowers the freezing point, causing the ice to melt faster and make chilled water a few degrees cooler. But too much salt becomes undrinkable.

Which melts faster – crushed or cubed ice?

Due to greater surface area contact with liquid, crushed and shaved ice melts significantly faster than ice cubes. So crushed ice chills beverages quicker.

Should I use tap or bottled water for ice?

Bottled water makes clearer ice cubes, but tap water is fine if filtering out impurities. Don’t use extremely hard water as it can create cloudy ice.

Why do drinks taste watered-down as ice melts?

The dissolving ice adds more water content, diluting the flavors. Starting with the necessary extra ice prevents this, as some melting is expected and accounted for.

How can I keep ice water cold for extended periods?

Use plenty of small crushed ice, additional chilled water to top off as needed, and an insulated thermos or tumbler. This maintains icy temperatures for hours.

The Bottom Line on Ice Water Chill Factor

Ice water earns its chilly reputation by reaching refreshing temperatures typically between 34°F to 40°F. With the optimal amount and type of ice, the right drinking vessel, and other cold-maximizing considerations, you can enjoy crisp, revitalizing ice water any place, any time. When a frosty drink calls, keep the cold facts on ice water in mind!