I make ice for my drinks by filling a plastic ice cube tray with boiled water and putting it in the freezer overnight.

The problem is it takes a considerable amount of effort (more than I would like) to extract the ice cubes from the tray. I use two methods:

  1. Twist the ice cube tray along its longest axis. It works to an extent, usually around 50% of the cubes are loosen. I don't want to twist it too much as I'm afraid that the plastic may break.
  2. For the remaining cubes, I turn the tray over and bang it repeatedly on the kitchen table.

It usually takes around 3~5 minutes, 8~15 twists and 20~40 bands to remove all 16 cubes from the tray. Sometimes one or two cubes get stuck even after this process, and I will give up and just wait for it to melt.

Is there a way to extract all cubes easily?

  • 4
    Silicone ice cube trays are available. They are rubbery and very flexible. It should be a lot easier to get ice cubes out of them. Dec 4, 2017 at 19:31

9 Answers 9

  1. Hold the cube tray on its side and run some cold tap water over the underside of the tray for about 5 seconds. This warms up the tray and expands it. You can hear the ice come loose as you do this. Don't keep going too long, you want to expand the tray without melting the ice.
  2. Put the cube tray upright and twist the tray along the longitudinal axis.
  3. Dry the underside of the tray with a towel so you won't get ice on the underside of the tray/get it stuck to the freezer.

If you get step 1 right, you can put the tray back in the freezer and the ice cubes will still be loose the next day.

There's no need to use hot water. I use this method every week, my ice cube tray is 10 years old now with no damage.


For many years I had two different plastic ice cube trays in my fridge. One of them, when twisted, caused the cubes to break free and practically jump right out of the tray- and the other one was nearly impossible to get the cubes out of (requiring brief exposure to hot water).

As a materials scientist, I wondered about that difference each time I used those trays for the 30 years I lived in that place and never figured out the reason why- but it was obvious that the plastic material used to make them was different. I recommend buying some trays at the goodwill store for cheap and testing each. throw away the ones that stick to the cubes, and keep the ones that release them easily!


Reduce their grip on the ice cube tray a little bit before you try to remove them.

  • Get a baking pan (9" x 12" x 2").
  • Put about one inch of hot water in it.
  • Place the ice cube tray in it for a minute. Don't let the hot water spill over the top of the ice cube tray and touch the ice cubes directly. The hot water should melt the outsides of the ice cubes a little bit.
  • Remove the tray from the hot water, invert it over a bowl, and twist. The cubes should come out pretty easily.

Note: I haven't tried this. Just seems like it should work.

  • Will this method degrade the plastic material due to the strong thermal gradient (-18C on one side, 60C / 80C on the other)?
    – kevin
    Dec 4, 2017 at 19:36
  • @kevin Really good question! I'm sure it depends on the chemical composition of the plastic, but even then I don't know the answer. Dec 4, 2017 at 19:38
  • 2
    I have used it, I have also used the running hot tap, you need a little heat, the hot tap is enough. The icecube trays always outlived the fridge they came with, so I think the damage was very small, if there at all. The hot water method also works on metal trays, which have no bending.
    – Willeke
    Dec 4, 2017 at 20:48
  • This works, but has the drawback that some of the ice melts. When you put the tray back in the fridge, it refreezes and the ice cubes are stuck again, so you have to repeat this procedure every time you need some ice.
    – Hobbes
    May 31, 2018 at 7:39
  • @Hobbes You're completely right. This method is only if the person wants to remove all 16 ice cubes from the tray. The OP had said that was their goal. May 31, 2018 at 12:47

What I do is I put the tray on the counter for about a minute and then use that twisting method. Remember to twist it in all directions. Should take 2~3 minutes.


One thing that might work is to use both in combination. Just flip the ice tray over some thing that can catch the ice cubes and twist and gentle taps. This takes about 10-15 seconds and seem to work on about 90% of the ice cubes. Some of them might require a bit harder tap. Also...just a few drips of water on the other side seem to help a lot.



Hold the tray under running tap water and let the water fall on its front and then on the backside for about 5 to 10 seconds. Now invert the tray over an empty bowl and twist the tray slightly along its longest side. Most of the cubes will be released. Again bring the tray under running tap water with its front side upward for about 5 seconds, invert it over the bowl and twist. Almost all the remaining cubes will be released . If any cube still sticks to the tray , you can strike slightly on the back of the tray or repeat the process of tap water.By now all the cubes should have been released from the tray. Store the cubes in a plastic bag and keep the bag in a freezer.


Whack ice tray on a hard surface, my friend used the countertop. Worked perfectly. Make sure to give a good whack. And enjoy your ice cubes!

  • The question states that trick takes too much effort amd is looking for a simpler hack.
    – Chenmunka
    Aug 14, 2020 at 17:52

Stick a butter knife down the side of each cup and use the leverage to pop the cubes out.


I suggest you a simple method.

  • Take the tray out.
  • Pour some drops of water around the ice inside the tray. Take care that enough water is poured between the tray frame and ice so that it will help you to release ice from the frame.
  • Let it stay for some time.
  • Then try twisting the tray back and forth by applying pressure.

I believe my answer is different as that of niels nielsen

  • @Hobbes No my dear friend, applying water to it will cause ice to increase its temperature by accepting energy from water(cohesive force). Thus, the temperature of ice will cross its melting point that is close to the water. Since water always lies at the gap between ice and tray, that part of ice will melt which a very slight thin layer. Now upon twisting, we can get ice cubes back Dec 11, 2017 at 11:13
  • @Hobbes If you still dont agree, think of an ice cube in a glass of water, will it convert the rest water into ice? Dec 11, 2017 at 11:14
  • you have a (relatively) large amount of ice at -18°C and a drop of water at +10°C. The two will find an equilibrium temperature below 0°C. When I drop one ice cube into a glass of water, I have a small amount of ice and a large amount of water, and the equilibrium temperature will be above 0°C.
    – Hobbes
    Dec 11, 2017 at 11:27
  • 1
    @Hobbes I have updated my answer for you.Thanks if you were specifying on the quantity of water to be poured. If that did not satisfy you, please comment me. Dec 11, 2017 at 11:41
  • @Hobbes, I'm not sure I understand what you are saying. The ambient temperature isn't -18C, only the ice, which I think is more around -6C. May 30, 2018 at 4:17

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