Did you know that ice cubes were invented by a physician?
In 1844, Dr. John Gorrie built the first refrigerator which produced ice. Interestingly, these ice cubes didn’t wind up in anyone’s Coca-Cola. At least not originally. The first ice cubes were used as a rudimentary “air conditioner”. It was believed that stifling rooms and “bad air” quality made people sick, and so the ice cubes were put in a basin and hung from the ceiling in belief that the cooling effect helped cure illness. Today we just like them in our drinks!
Thankfully, I will not be suggesting you turn off your AC this summer and hang a bowl of ice cubes from your ceiling. Though I might have to test that one out….
Back to the topic of ice cube trays: I love it when I find multiple uses for items I already have around the house. Especially when those uses will help me save money! I have gathered up some ideas using plain ol’ ice cube trays that will help you pinch pennies without a lot of hassle. If you don’t have extra ice cube trays, you can get packs of them at the dollar store. Some of these ideas will require ice cube trays specific for their purpose (as in, when you’re done, you don’t want to use them to make ice or anything that will be consumed. Mark these trays and use them only for non-food purposes!)
Here are 10 Money-Saving Uses for Ice Cube Trays
1. Freeze and Store Baby Food
If you make your own organic baby food, then you already know its most practical to make larger quantities in bulk. Simply prepare the puree, then carefully spoon into each compartment and freeze. Each “well” in the tray is about two tablespoons. The cubes can be transferred into freezer bags, labeled and then thawed as needed.
2. Homemade Dishwasher Tab Molds
If you liked my Homemade Dishwasher Detergent, but had problems with it solidifying into one big brick, you can take the powder and press it into the ice cube trays to make dishwasher tabs! Just pack the powder in evenly and let dry for a day or two. Pop ’em out and store in an air tight container. No need to freeze.
3. Make Fresh Herbs Last Longer
Harvest or purchase fresh herbs, chop into small pieces and place in the tray. Then fill the wells with olive oil and freeze. You will have the perfect starters you can toss right in your sauté pan the next time you cook.
4. Freeze Broth or Stock
When you make a big batch of bone broth or stock, simply pour into the trays and freeze. Pop them out and keep them in a freezer bag and use a couple for flavoring your favorite dishes instead of bouillon cubes. Each “cube” is about two tablespoons. You could also freeze the broth with your fresh herbs instead of olive oil as described in #3 above.
5. Coconut (or other nut) Milk or Yogurt Cubes
Freeze your favorite smoothie base into ice cubes. This makes for a thicker smoothie that stays colder than just pouring liquid in straight. Makes it more like a milkshake. Yum!
6. Mini Hand-Soup Molds
If you’re into making soap you can make your own using ice cube trays as molds. Just don’t use the same ones for food products in the future! You can even find fun shaped ice cube trays for this purpose.
7. Save Your Eggs
Eggs can be frozen once they are removed from the shell. To freeze whole eggs, scramble then pour into the tray. This also works if you have a recipe that calls for just an egg yolk, you could freeze the white for use in a later recipe and vice-versa. Transfer to a zipper freezer bag once frozen.
8. Freeze Aloe Vera
Freeze trays of aloe vera or after-burn gel for amazing cooling relief from sunburn. To use, allow to melt for a few seconds in the warm air, then apply gently to burned area. Do not hold frozen cube in one spot too long.
9. Supply Storage
Use empty ice cube trays to store tiny trinkets, itty-bitty craft supplies or small pieces of jewelry.
10. Crayon Mold
Melt down bits of old crayons using a microwave safe bowl and pour into ice cube trays to make new, fat crayons perfect for little fingers. You can make them multicolored too for added fun!
What’s your favorite frugal use for ice cube trays?
DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for some products that I recommend. For more information please check out my Disclosure Statement.