Why Do Hospitals Give Ice Chips?

Although the hospital can be a place of both happiness and sadness, one thing that can turn a smile on almost any face in there are ice chips (also known as nugget ice)

Many people think that ice chips are just little pieces of ice, but there is actually a lot more to them. Ice chips have a variety of uses, from cooling down a drink to easing a sore throat.

They can also be used as a form of ice massage. Ice chips are made by crushing ice into small pieces, and they come in different shapes and sizes.

But why do hospitals give ice chips? And what kind of ice machines do they use?

Keep reading to find the answer!

Table of Contents

What is ice chips ?

what is ice chips
Image from Instructables.com
Ice chips are generally small pieces of Ice usually more flattened out compared to an general ice cube. You could even make this at the comfort of your home within a few minutes as per the image above. 

Generally ice chips last longer in a drink and its nicer to munch on as well as its not a large square piece but instead small slabs of ice. 

Benefits of Ice Chips over Ice Cubes:
Ice Chips freeze faster than Ice Cubes. (Ice Chips – 30 min vs Ice Cubes – 3/4 hrs)
2) Ice Chips use up much less space compared to cubes in the freezer. 
3) Ice Chips are easier to suck on than full Ice Cubes.
4) Ice cubes can never be made into ice chips, it will always crush off unless you have a specialised machine to do it.

Why Hospitals Give Ice Chips

Hospitals usually provide their patients with ice chips for hydration. A lot of patients experience difficulties when consuming liquid due to surgery or other restrictions. Therefore, ice provides an easy alternative for these people to hydrate.

Patients can simply chew on the ice nuggets or have them melt in their mouths in order to help them with their daily water intake. As patients chew ice throughout the day, it’s possible for them to stay hydrated without having to actually drink any liquids.

Especially for these groups of people it’s important to stay hydrated as it helps them to:

  • Regulate their body temperature
  • Protect their joints
  • Protecting their soft tissue
  • Help their body expel waste products

Why Can You Only Have Ice Chips Before Surgery?


The fact that you’re only allowed to have ice chips before surgery (if you are allowed to have anything) has to do with anesthesia. There’s a high risk of vomiting if you’re put under anesthesia while having a full stomach.

Vomiting can be very dangerous if it happens during anesthesia as it can lead to choking and other undesirable outcomes that might have a negative effect on the overall success of the surgery.

What Kind Of Ice Maker Do Hospitals Use?

In general, countertop ice makers are very popular in hospitals and other healthcare settings. This is due to the fact that they can just leave the nugget ice maker on while limiting the chance of accidental contamination (which in turn reduces the chance of producing white nugget ice).

A lot of modern countertop nugget ice makers dispense ice directly into an ice bucket or cup at the simple press of a button. This eliminates the need for anyone to have to use a scoop to grab the ice, which decreases the chance of contaminating the ice supply.

So it’s definitely better from a hygienic point of view, which of course is very important in hospitals.


So to conclude, hospitals provide their patients with ice chips due to the simple fact that it helps them stay hydrated before and after surgeries.

If you want to enjoy ice chips in the comfort of your own home, I recommend checking out my homepage. It’s filled with information, reviews, and buying guides about the best nugget ice makers currently available.

If you have any other questions, feel free to let me know in the comments below!


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