The ice industry, part 1/5

I’ve always been puzzled by the long persistence of household iceboxes. Mechanical refrigeration was invented around 1880. Ice plants had formerly used natural ice from ponds or from frozen pools, requiring massive insulation and storage, but rarely lasting through the summer. They started using refrigeration soon after its invention, and by 1910 all ice production was mechanical. Obvious advantage. Make it when you want it, no seasonal storage.

Household refrigerators were available in 1910 but didn’t really dominate until after WW2. Why did the replacement take so long? I still don’t have a good answer.  The early household fridges were considerably more expensive than iceboxes, but lower operating expense and the tremendous gain in convenience would compensate pretty quickly.  Ice service cost about one dollar per week, and every delivery was an interruption and a possible mess.

Only two technologies are PURELY GOOD. Indoor plumbing and refrigerators. Everything else is arguable.

I decided it was time to do a Lost Tech piece on ice.

How was ice actually made? My first unthinking guess was an artificial pond. Place cooling coils under a shallow pool, flood the pool, then chop out the ice. This was entirely wrong. The real manufacturing method was vastly more interesting, and involved several unique machines and devices.

= = = = =

Links for this set:

Part 1, intro

Part 2, history

Part 3, the cycle

Part 4, mass production

Part 5, summing up

And finally the Poser set at ShareCG.

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