The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
October 9, 2009

Would You Use A Stainless Steel Ice Cube Tray?


I can’t tell you the number of times since I started Fake Plastic Fish that people have asked me what I do for ice. The answer has always been that I just keep using the same plastic ice trays that I owned before I started Fake Plastic Fish. I know, I know. I don’t like to put food in plastic because of possible chemicals leaching. But it’s my understanding that chemicals leach more from plastic when it is heated and that plastic interacts more with fats in foods. So I figured freezing water in plastic was safe.

Is it? I honestly don’t know. And since so many people have asked about a plastic-free option for ice, I decided to try out the stainless steel ice cube tray sold by Fake Plastic Fish advertiser, NoPlastic.Ca, a Canadian company that sells all kinds of plastic-free home alternatives. I asked the owner Ramin to send me a tray to review, and here it is:

stainless steel ice tray

We had a metal ice tray like this when I was growing up. I think ours might have been made out of aluminum. My mom hated it and was happy to switch to the new plastic trays because she had a problem lifting up the lever to release the ice. But I had no problem at all with this one. I used a towel in both hands, holding down one end with my left hand and lifting the lever with my right.

stainless steel ice tray


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It feels so funny explaining this to the youngsters. Sort of like explaining metal safety razors. Honestly kids. People made ice and shaved themselves before plastic!

One difference between a metal tray and plastic is that with metal, you can’t remove the ice cubes individually and replace the water. So I emptied the whole thing into a glass bowl and refilled the tray. Simple.

stainless steel ice tray

So what to you think? If you needed an ice cube tray, would it be worth it to spring for a new stainless steel one or would you be satisfied with a used plastic ice cube tray from a thrift store or Craigslist? (Notice buying new plastic is not one of the choices.) Do you feel that ice is the same as food and should not touch plastic? In that case, would you replace your plastic ice tray with a new stainless steel one? I want to hear what you think.

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72 Comments on "Would You Use A Stainless Steel Ice Cube Tray?"

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Yvette Strom
22 days 16 hours ago

I am searching for stainless steel ice cube trays, and saw this exact product on Amazon, but I won’t pay $28 for one tray! That’s an outrageous price.

1 month 9 days ago
I just found this and I hope someone will have an answer for me. I have been using a quite old aluminum mini muffin tin for making ice, all summer, it makes the cubes so quickly. Then a friend asked me yesterday, “aren’t you concerned about using aluminum?” I hadn’t even thought of it. I’ve tried finding an answer on Google, this blog is the closest I’ve come to having my question answered. Do any of you know, should I be concerned about using the aluminum? My DIL bought me an ice tray about a year ago on Amazon, it… Read more »
Nan Sea Love
1 year 15 days ago
i just bought two after looking up your recommendation in your book. i remember the old aluminum ones when i grew up and i hate the plastic ones, they wear out. Read all the questions and some reviews when i was on the only objection i saw was some people who have grown up in the plastic age don’t know you need to wait a few minutes before removing ice or it is very difficult. i also got the best price plus Amazonprime free shipping. Glad i saw your link to metal safety razors, i have one, but cannot… Read more »
How to SAFELY Store Homemade Baby Food | Tree Hugger Baby
1 year 1 month ago

[…] what about silicone ice cube trays?  Heres what Beth Terry from My Plastic Free Life has to say on the subject: “Silicone is also a polymer. The difference between it and regular […]

1 year 3 months ago

YES!Been looking for them for years now!

1 year 3 months ago

What do you think of silicone? Or, know about it.
I’ve heard that it’s safer than plastic but I don’t really know.

1 year 6 months ago

cullenar Research aluminum. Go for stainless steel. Aluminum is just as bad as plastic.

1 year 6 months ago

Has anyone thought of a regular ordinary ice cube tray….made of stainless steel…ahem..NON-Chinese hopefully…(>>I<< dunno what they add to their steel!)…only make it without that idiot crank?

Obviously it will need to be flexible enough to torque it and have the cubes pop out…so some kinds of tests would need to be done to find one that was strong enough to last, but thin enough to allow torqueing…

Ive looked everywhere…It just seems logical to me…

2 years 1 month ago

We bought 2 vintage aluminum ice trays for $5/each at a mid century modern consignment store. We love them. I had been searching for non plastic and especially non-chinese made ice trays for a long time. I’m to young to remember these (28) but love them.

2 years 7 months ago

how about using those small pyrex dishes vs a bowl?  What are those made off? Will try those and maybe buy metal.

2 years 9 months ago

I would DEFINITELY us one! Found this post while trying to find one, actually.

1 year 3 months ago

Me, too. Exact same story!

3 years 4 days ago

I read terrible reviews on this product. Made in China. Some said theirs started to rust. Others said there was a coating on the tray that came off on the ice and left a residue in their drinking glass. Are there any better made alternatives?

3 years 3 months ago
I bought the metal ice cube tray from your site a while ago, and I LOVE it! I use it most often for freezing leftover broth. I used to put leftover broth into plastic freezer bags, but then if you only needed a little, you’d have to defrost the whole package and throw the rest away. I use the tray to freeze broth into cubes, which I then store in freezer bags in the freezer, which is much more convenient and lest wasteful. Which brings me to my big question. I want to replace my freezer bags with a non-plastic,… Read more »
1 year 3 months ago

there are many glass alternatives. i use mason jars in the fridge for storing many things

3 years 3 months ago

@Shdfx1 I love your chicken broth idea! I keep forgetting to try this. As far as a plastic freezer bag alternative, try these /2008/09/plastic-free-in-freezer-airtight/
They work wonderfully!

3 years 5 months ago
i just found your blog while looking to learn more about all metal ice cube trays. I have mast cell activation disorder and anything put in plastic sends me into allergic reactions that often progress into full blown anaphylaxis. I have been plastic free (or avoiding it as much as i can) for over 2yrs now. In all that time I have not been able to make or use ice for myself. we used a plastic ice tray and I got very ill- I never thought I would find ice in my life again.  After reading your experience with them… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago

girlinchair Thanks for your comment.  I had to Google “mast cell activation disorder.”  I’m still not sure I understand it, but I’m glad to be able to help you avoid plastic and stay well.  Cheers!

3 years 7 months ago

Sadly, those stainless trays are made in China.  Can we really trust them?

4 years 15 days ago

I purchased metal trays about fifteen years ago and have used them ever since. There is a danger with leeched dioxins, etc with freezing as there is with heating. That is what I have heard from reputable sources. I avoid food and plastic whenever I can, and that is at least 90 percent of the time. With the metal trays, you need to run cold water over the tray enough times so that the lever will pull up. That is a necessary step in order to avoid damaging the tray.

4 years 2 months ago

I would use metal. It is my understanding that the toxins will leach rapidly into any liquid.

4 years 9 months ago

Have you ever noticed that your refrigerator is probably lined with plastic walls and door panels. I can taste this from foods that get exposed too long in the freezer – especially the ice even when it is made with filtered water. Assaulted from every angle. Go within. Make peace with god. Return more present authentic and aware of all that is.

5 years 4 months ago

That’s a great idea. I’ve been using mine lately for coffee cubes. That way I can have ice coffee without diluting it with watery ice cubes. And I don’t have to worry about hot coffee I in plastic trays.

5 years 4 months ago

To those with built in ice cube makers, you should know that they are major energy hogs

They main reason I would want a metal tray would be for freezing things like leftover wine, broth or tea. I could pour them in hot & not worry about leaching chemicals.

Barbara Hayes
5 years 4 months ago

I would use stainless steel if I needed to use an Ice Tray

5 years 8 months ago

Are you still using this? I need to replace my plastic trays in my effort to get all plastic out of my kitchen (and home).

5 years 10 months ago
I still have one of the metal trays (and a number of plastic ones). Frankly, I’m not sure why I keep the plastic ones, because I like the metal one so much better. I prefer it, not only because it’s not plastic, but because you can break up the ice, remove the grid, take as many cubes as you wish easily (no flipping it over or struggling to get the cubes out of the holes in the tray) and leave the rest in the tray if you like. Plus, I rather like the fact that some of the ice often… Read more »
6 years 2 months ago

I recently noticed tiny flakes of somthing in all my ice made from all of my 3 different types of plastic ice trays ?! And yes I use a water filter on my kitchen faucet I use for the water . Anyone know what might the heck might be going on here ?

Anna Fay
6 years 3 months ago
I have been doing a lot of research on plastic the last year & I love your blog… anyways, this is the first comment I’ve done.. What I know about plastic is that leaching happens more especially when it is heated & cooled (frozen). So, I would definitely prefer a stainless one over plastic! I love that you put the cubes in the glass bowl too.. plastic is oh so trashy! I’m a college student & don’t really have any belongings other than my clothes.. but I’m slowly gathering non plastic home stuffs for when I’ve got a place of… Read more »
Doctor Ed
6 years 3 months ago
As a physician, pathologist, I heartily agree with your and your readers concerns re plastic. Our culture is steeped in plastic, with soft drinks, food wrapping of meat, so-called bottled water, and on and on. I would add an additional caution: Don’t overlook all of the other ways that we ingest plastics, and so many other toxic chemicals. Read labels carefully, avoid food grown or processed in other countries which use our pesticides and fertilizers, fish which ingests fertilizer and mercury, chicken which may be fed arsenic-laden feed, and the list goes on. I don’t think that the cancer rate… Read more »
6 years 8 months ago
I don’t like plastic; agreed there. I tried the silicon ones, and frankly, they REEK. My freezer itself doesn’t smell, but the trays sure did after awhile, and no amount of handwashing could get the funky smell out (I don’t have a dishwasher, so I don’t know if that would work). Either way, I wasn’t about to eat any ice from something so nasty-smelling. Plus, since at the time, I didn’t use much ice, and the cubes evaporated fairly quickly. I just bought one of those freakishly expensive stainless steel ice cube trays, and my first attempt at dislodging the… Read more »

[…] clean your Dry Clean Only fabrics) we bought a reusable Clothesnik dry cleaner bag. We got new stainless steel ice cube trays to replace their plastic counterparts. We purchased a whole set of ten Anchor glass refrigerator […]

6 years 10 months ago

@ Brigid

The world was once seen as flat, smoking was thought to be good for you, and fluoride really doesn’t do anything for your teeth.

Anyway if your uninformed about plastic, a good documentary to watch is
Addicted to Plastic

It will really open your eyes to the problem of plastic, both environmental and health.

7 years 23 hours ago

I don’t know if it’s the minerals in our water or that our ice cube trays are too soft, but I have a terrible time getting the cubes out. I twist and twist and they never pop out. I found myself wishing the other day that they would crack so that I could buy new stainless trays. :)

Rob M.
7 years 7 days ago
I also debated on my plastic ice trays. In the end I decided I would put them on the shelf and try something new (that is really old). I bought a nice glass mixing bowl at a thrift store and an ice pick at a local big box retailer. Another bummer about that was the awful and unnecessary plastic package it came in. I wish I could have found one another way. For ice, I pour a decent amount of water in the bowl and freeze it. I then take it out, flip the bowl upside down, place it on… Read more »
Would You Use A Stainless Steel Ice Cube Tray? - Go Green - SustainLane
7 years 10 days ago

[…] a towel in both hands, holding down one end with my left hand and lifting the lever with my right.Read the full article here.Beth Terry writes about finding alternatives to plastic and tracks her own plastic consumption and […]

7 years 11 days ago

I found some vintage spring loaded ice cube trays on EBay for less than $10.

I thought that Beth’s cubes like a good size for a portion of babyfood. I could see why there would be a market for these trays given that many more people are making their own babyfood.

Love all of the progressive products

7 years 13 days ago
@Brigid We use a towel when using our stainless steel tray. That way our hands don’t get cold. We haven’t had any big problems with the handle sticking, so long as we don’t fill it up too far. It does take a good tug, but I’m a weakling and I can use it just fine. (Might not be suitable for those with severe arthritis or similar conditions, though.) I do wonder how the stainless steel and aluminum ones compare. I saw an aluminum one at a resale store just recently, but I try to avoid aluminum around my food, too.… Read more »
7 years 13 days ago
NEVER!!! I remember those metal ice cube trays from my childhood. They were horrible! The lever always stuck, and then it would release suddenly and the ice cubes would explode all over the kitchen. I would always cut or bruise my hands in the process, and it always seemed to hurt twice as much because they were already cold. Also, my hands always stuck to the metal surfaces. OK, our trays were aluminum, but somehow stainless just seems like overkill. Has anyone ever shown that plastic leaches out of ice cube trays into the ice cubes, or are we all… Read more »
7 years 13 days ago

I like the idea of stainless ones, but I am sticking with my plastic ones. Seeing as how they never get heated up, I am not that worried about 5 year old plastic leeching into my ice cubes. When they need replacing, I will get metal ones, but for now will use up what I have. Thought-provoking post.

7 years 13 days ago

The cost of this is pretty darned prohibitive so I haven’t made the plunge yet. Still using our cracked plastic ice cube tray
.-= Billie´s last blog ..Funny Story =-.

7 years 14 days ago
I agree completely with Daharja! I don’t think ice cube is a necessity! Currently we have two ice cube trays that we got used with no plastic number so I can’t say that I trust them… But we have not used them for years! We are perfectly fine with the temperature of the drinks that come out of our fridge! We just don’t serve us huge glass when the temperature is hot! The fact that I am not a fan of any diluted drink weight surely in the balance ;o) Also, when we had ice cubes in the freezer, they… Read more »
7 years 14 days ago

I also remember the metal ones from my childhood. I also remember as a child often having difficulty getting the metal bar to lift up and thus spilling ice all over!
Regardless, I currently have plastic and have no problem with my ice touching plastic. Since these plastic trays still work, I will continue to use them until they are as used up as they can get, then purchase metal ones.
.-= CC´s last blog ..Boxtops for Education =-.

7 years 15 days ago
I totally would, we had one when I was a kid, but we then got a fridge with an ice maker on it. We have an ice maker now, but I am sure it uses plastic… I am so glad I found your site. I made the declaration last month that I want to remove plastic from my life (mainly because I am concerned about the chemical leaching). It also has an environmental factor–as in that stuff is really terrible, have you read “Garbage Land” by Elizabeth Royte? She titles the chapter on it “Satan’s Resin” and it so is.… Read more »
7 years 15 days ago


I’ve tried silicone trays, but I found them more difficult to use. You have to put a plate under them or else they bend and spill, but I didn’t have a plate the right size or shape. Plus, in my experience, the ice was not as easy to get out as it is using the steel tray.

7 years 15 days ago


We did without ice cube trays for a while, but finally bought the steel tray. It wasn’t a necessity, but it is convenient when we want to cool down drinks quickly (and living Florida, cold drinks are just about a necessity).

7 years 15 days ago

i think i’d just go for a silicone tray (new).

7 years 15 days ago
Am I being too ascetic when I say that I really don’t consider ice trays one of life’s necessities? We have a whole stack of them sitting in our freezer. Empty. I never bother filling them because we never use ice. And yes, I live in a cold country now (New Zealand) but it was the same when I lived in Adelaide, Australia, and temperatures regularly soared above 100F. I just don’t think people really need ice cubes to live a fully and happy life. If you absolutely MUST, then buy secondhand stainless. Because the more I do research on… Read more »
7 years 15 days ago

My partner is the ice-lover, and we have an icemaker in the fridge. I do buy yardsale plastic trays to freeze pesto/seasonings. We had those aluminum-type trays when I was a kid; I hated them then and try to avoid aluminum kitchen stuff now. I’m happy enough with my used plastic trays (at a quarter or less each) for the limited purpose I use them. I don’t think the trays with the pull bar would work as well for my purpose.

7 years 15 days ago

Hi Beth,

I fully agree with your pre-plastic equipment usage. The ‘convenience’ of plastic is no longer acceptable due to its waste impact. Promoting alternatives will help consumers who are often forced to buy plastic packaging etc.

7 years 16 days ago
Well seeing as I have one of them thar newfangled Ice Maker machines in my freezer, I would say nope. But if it went out – Sure. I too grow up with the metal ones, never had a problem working the nechanism (and I was a little kid) My mom hated them though. As it is for now, when I make frozen dog treats or herb (basil) cubes I use plastic ice trays- one is for the shape (dog treats) and the other size (basil cubes). BTW I found a source for breed specific handmade dog metal cookie cutters”> if… Read more »
7 years 16 days ago

I just recently discovered my grandmothers metal trays (look just like yours, but as you said, not stainless steel) packed away somewhere, and started using them. They bring back great memories, they’re not at all difficult to use, and I much prefer them to plastic that eventually discolors and cracks.

7 years 16 days ago

I was looking for something to replace my plastic ice cube trays. They were just crappy. I was looking into metal tray, on your advice actually. I never got around to getting one, my mom got me a silicone one, the cubes are so easy to get out and it’s better than plastic, isn’t it? I honestly don’t know, but it will last me a long time I am sure so I am happy with it.

7 years 16 days ago

If I didn’t have an ice maker, I’d probably hit the thrift store to see what kind of used plastic tray I could find there. The cost is less, it’s getting a second life, blah, blah, blah. Now, if I got to the thrift store and they had plastic and metal, I’d go with the metal for the coolness factor!
.-= Kellie @ Greenhab´s last blog ..Homemade Sandwich Wrap =-.

7 years 16 days ago

Yes, I would use a steal one, but we already have plastic ones so it seems a waste to replace them. Also, I rarely use ice so I don’t really care about it being in plastic.

7 years 16 days ago

Convinced that water freezing in plastic = bad leaching and increased health risks — and because our freezer doesn’t have an automatic ice maker — I opted to add our plastic trays to the “yard sale” pile and buy stainless steel. My husband *still* comments bitterly about their cost ($30 per tray!), yet will not use the plastic trays anymore, either. I don’t know if I made a good decision or not, but it can’t *hurt,* right?

7 years 16 days ago

My husband and I love our stainless steel ice cube tray!

We had the plastic, but really didn’t like the idea of the BPA leeching into our ice. And I swear I could taste it. At any rate, seeing how the trays got brittle with age (as the BPA leeched out), we finally decided that we didn’t want anymore plastic ice cube trays.

The steel ice cube tray is kind of a conversation starter. Plus, I think the ice does taste better.

Myscha Theriault
7 years 16 days ago
Hi Beth, You know, I’m using the thrift purchased plastic ones right now for freezing leftover purees and such, as the fridge at the new house came with an automatic ice maker. I guess when the current plastic ones give out I wouldn’t be opposed to using a stainless steel one, provided it was a) cost effective and b) not logistically tough to use like the old aluminum ones were. Although it looks like your experience was that they weren’t difficult to use. Also, as of yet I’m not a parent. But if I were about to be one, I… Read more »
7 years 16 days ago

This is a perfect post for us! We don’t have an ice cube tray and I wasn’t about to go buying a plastic one. Not so much because of the plastic in my ice issue (which I’m on the fence about), but because I just don’t want to bring anymore plastic into my life. I looked for a stainless steel ice cube tray a few months ago and couldn’t find one. This looks just like what I was needing. They also have some other great stainless steel products for kids. Loving the stainless steel straw idea!

7 years 16 days ago

I’m pretty okay with plastic touching my food. I’ve always had an ice tray come with the fridge so it just seems lower impact to just use that rather than buy a whole new product. Also, if you have a small freezer, the dish of ice cubes might take up valuable room.
.-= arduous´s last blog ..A Moment of Hope =-.

7 years 16 days ago

p.s. – Translink can now be used on BART

7 years 16 days ago

Funny you should be mentioning this – I was recently thinking of getting metal trays – but can’t justify because the plastic ones are fine. I think they are totally cool and should the current trays ever become broken or are mysteriously misplaced, I will totally buy them.

7 years 16 days ago
Our plastic ice cube trays came with our fridge, and I will continue to use those until they no longer work. They’re 6 years old now and show no signs of wear, so I imagine they have many years left in them. In honesty, I am not the ice cube maker or user in our house. If ours died I could quite happily live without. My husband, on the other hand, not so much. I think he would prefer used plastic over new stainless steel, and so I would be deferring to him. But I think the no-cube option is… Read more »
Dawn Bertuca
7 years 16 days ago

I think stainless steel is always preferable to plastic – though I remember those stainless steel trays with levers from my childhood too, and I remember them being difficult to use. But I’d be willing to give them a try. Lucky for me my current frig has an icemaker so I don’t need any trays at all. If I was going to buy new trays I would rather buy new ss ones than used plastic ones. That’s a bit yucky to me.
.-= Dawn Bertuca´s last blog ..Five Ways to Keep A Friendship Going – Even Over Long Distance =-.

7 years 16 days ago
I love that you always make me think and evaluate what I’m doing. Our refrigerator has an automatic ice maker which we use but also have about 6 plastic trays from when my first was a baby. We used it to freeze individual servings of mommy-made pureed baby food. This was all pre-plastic-fear times. I rarely use them other than for freezing stocks, herbs or “flavored” ice cubes so I won’t replace them for now. I wouldn’t put them in the dishwasher so they’re not exposed to really high heat so I believe they’re “safe” from leaching. But who really… Read more »
7 years 16 days ago
My parents had metal ice cube trays like that when I was growing up too. For now, I’m sticking with the plastic ice cube trays that I alreayd have. I’m a big believer in use what you’ve got. I honestly don’t use them much anyway. Most of the time the cube slots are filled only half way with water to make Pekingese size ice cubes. Blitzkrieg earns ice cubes as treats in the summer to help cool him off when in exetremely hot weather because Pekes with their double coat and smashed face are more prone to heat stroke. Can… Read more »
7 years 16 days ago
Hmmm, this might be a lot of work making ice for a family of six. I would try it though. At one point I got rid of almost all of my plastic food storage stuff and replaced it with glass. I love the glass but I’m finding it hard to store it in my freezer. It slips around a lot in the freezer and I have ended up breaking some stuff. I make a lot of broth to freeze and the quart jars are ok but hard to stack in the freezer. I broke down and bought some Ball brand… Read more »