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What Are Ice Tongs?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 16, 2024
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Ice tongs are a type of kitchen utensil used to lift pieces of ice out of an ice bucket and lower them carefully into a beverage, to prevent the ice from falling and splashing into the drink. It is also much more sanitary to use tongs than for someone to grab the ice with his or her hands. For those who enjoy entertaining, good quality tongs are a must.

Often, ice tongs and an ice bucket will come as a matching set. An ice bucket is an insulated container with a lid, used for storing ice and keeping it frozen in warmer temperatures. This prevents the host or hostess from having to make frequent trips back to the freezer for more ice. The ice bucket will often have a hook to allow the tongs to hang from the bucket and prevent them from becoming lost.

Ice tongs may be made out of silver, stainless steel, or plastic. Silver and stainless steel tend to hold up better, but are also more expensive initially. Some tongs come as part of a set with other bar items, such as wine or bottle openers. Good quality ice tongs may also have rubber handles, to make them easier to hold, and sharp notches, or "teeth," in order to get a better grip on the ice. Some tongs also feature a locking mechanism, which allows them to remain closed and take up less space while being stored in a drawer.

Some people choose to decorate their kitchens with antique ice tongs. Though the name is the same, this type of tool is different than the tongs used for small pieces of ice today. Antique tongs are usually made up of two large hooks, which are driven into a large block of ice. When the hooks are lifted, they press into the ice and keep it secure. These were often used when ice would be delivered to homes.

Ice tongs can be found in stores in the kitchen or housewares section, or may be purchased online. Antique tongs are also fairly common, and can be found in an antique store. When purchasing any item, it may be helpful to check online and see if the product has any user reviews, to make an informed purchase. Keep in mind that though silver tongs may be visually appealing, they will need to be polished the same way that fine silver flatware does.

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Discussion Comments
By Sinbad — On Sep 11, 2011

@snickerish - The antique ice tongs which were for ice blocks primarily are non-descript actually, but they are still very neat looking because of their long curved pincher looking bodies, so it would be interesting to see if your friend could still make something out of them....

I have also seen what look to be new - old antique tongs in the sense that from what I gathered from the article people did not have a need for small tongs for ice like we have now for our ice buckets, but the design on these modern ice bucket tongs looks antique.

And the ones of those types of tongs have been very detailed and pretty and would make for fantastic creative jewelry.

By snickerish — On Sep 10, 2011

I had never known that antique ice tongs existed! Were they primarily non-descript or did fancy antique ice tongs exist?

II am sort of assuming so, since the article said that some people may decorate with ice tongs, but I wanted to find out because of a friend of mine. This friend makes beautiful jewelry out of antique silverware and I thought that it might be fun for her to make something new out of these antique ice tongs.

By lighth0se33 — On Sep 10, 2011

I just recently got a pair of ice tongs, and I feel much better about the sanity of my ice now. I have seen my guests give my dog a thorough rubdown and then reach into the ice bucket without washing their hands first. I love my dog, but I know his nasty habits of rolling in things, so even I wash my hands before handling drinks or food.

I think seeing that spurred me on to buy the ice tongs. Generally, when people see that they are available, they will use them. Otherwise, they know that they might be considered rude or unsanitary.

By kylee07drg — On Sep 09, 2011

My grandmother gave me some vintage ice tongs and an ice bucket to match for my birthday. She knows that I have guests over frequently, and I always send them to the freezer for ice. I have complained to her before that they sometimes leave the freezer door ajar, and things inside start to thaw.

The ice bucket is brown metal with a design that runs all the way around its middle. It is embossed with flowers, vines, and berries. The designs are slightly lighter brown than the rest of the bucket. The ice tongs match the light parts of the bucket.

The tongs are made of brass. They have delicate looking gripping claws that are shaped like flowers. The whole set looks really expensive, but my grandmother is the queen of finding good deals, so I doubt she paid full price for it.

By Oceana — On Sep 08, 2011

I found a beautiful stainless steel ice bucket set online. The ice tongs are made into seashell shapes at the ends, and they curl under slightly like a real shell. This makes it easier to grip the ice cubes.

The ice bucket has a seashell shape engraved on two sides. The handle is made of several small shells that you have to grip to lift the lid.

I throw parties at my beach house all summer long, so the design of this ice set is perfect for the location. Since my decor is all ocean themed, it fits in well.

By Perdido — On Sep 08, 2011

I have a pair of clear acrylic ice tongs and a matching clear ice bucket. I think that the transparency of both looks great with the ice. Plus, it is easy for guests to find. Before I got these, people were always asking me where the ice was. Now, they know!

However, I do have to keep the bucket in the shade. I know that a solid color ice bucket would have provided better insulation, but I just couldn’t resist buying these, because they look like the ice that they hold!

By MissDaphne — On Sep 07, 2011

@SailorJerry - Your grandmother might have arthritis in her hand that makes it hard for her to work the ice cube tongs. You might have better luck with a scoop.

Failing that, you could just appoint someone to fill Grandma's drink for her and try to keep her away from the ice bucket! I'm sure she would find it respectful and kind to have a grandchild or great-grandchild being so solicitous!

By SailorJerry — On Sep 07, 2011

I have some perfectly nice plastic ice tongs that I always put in my ice bucket when I entertain. All I need now is a way to keep my grandmother from moving the tongs and reaching in with her hand to put ice in her cup.

I don't want to say anything to her because, well, she's my grandma. But it's gross! I don't want to go in there after she's been touching all the ice. Can someone help me out here? How can I get her to stop without hurting her feelings?

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