Odors in ice may be prevented

Published: Feb. 27, 2007 at 2:11 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2007 at 3:34 AM EST
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By: Clemson University Cooperative Extension

(Columbia) Feb. 27, 2007 - Do the ice cubes from your refrigerator/freezer have a musty odor or taste like onion, garlic, metal or plastic?  Ice cubes provide an active surface that naturally attracts odors.  Cold surfaces, such as ice, absorb odor compounds faster than warm surfaces.  Ice cubes stored in an ice bin will absorb any air-borne refrigerator or freezer odors.  Typically, air circulates between the freezer and the refrigerator.  Any food item not properly wrapped or stored can cause a potential off-flavor in your ice.

Ice cubes should be used often to prevent them from becoming old and stale.  If the ice maker provides more ice than your family can use, dump the ice bin weekly so that a fresh supply of ice will always be available.  If ice is not dumped regularly then old stale cubes may transfer a stale musty odor to new cubes and the ice bin.

Hidden odor can be a significant cause in odor-in-ice problems.  Always wipe up spills right away.  Spills not wiped up could run down to the bottom of the cabinet, spoil, and become a source of odor and contamination.   If spills are allowed to seep into the insulation, a service call may be necessary to correct the problem.  Clean refrigerator and freezer sections about once a month, following Use and Care Guide instructions.

Good water quality is important for good ice quality.  Ice made with hard water absorbs odor faster than ice made with softer water.  If water is being softened by a water softener, it is important that the water softener be well maintained and operate properly.  Also, water with high levels of sulfur and total solids are more likely to accept odor faster than water under more normal conditions.

To limit odors in your refrigerator and in your freezer, use air-tight wrapping materials for storing food that are moisture proof and vapor proof.  Avoid storing foods with strong odors for long periods of time.  This includes casseroles and pizza that contain onion and garlic.  Storing cans in the refrigerator may give ice a metallic taste.  Never use strong chemicals to clean your unit.  Strong chemicals will leave a strong chemical or fragrant odor.

To remove odor causing spills in your refrigerator, use two tablespoons of baking soda to one quart warm water.  Removable parts should be washed with warm soapy water as well as the gasket and door liner.  Don't forget to clean your drain and drip pan.

For more information on safe handling and storage of foods go to the Clemson Extension Service website at the Home and Garden Information Center or call the toll-free number at 1-888-656-9988.  On the website, click the food safety icon and go to code numbers 3490 through 3526.

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status, and is an equal opportunity employer.