Tuesday, September 13, 2011

the taste of ice

Cold and frozen are not necessarily bad adjectives. In other words, they should not always conjure up negative or unwelcome memories. It's just a matter of perspective.

For example, in the Sonoran desert, the simple pleasure of having ice cubes always available to go in your freezer cannot be discounted in the relentless heat of summer.

It's more than simply a cold drink, after all one can simply pull a cold one from the fridge; there is tactile pleasure in the taste of ice. Provided, of course, that the ice tastes good.

A more extreme example: the Four Seasons hotel spa in Doha, Qatar, has a room that's basically a walk-in freezer. I've never seen or experienced anything like it.

You can walk in nearly naked and it feels wonderful for about 5 (to 10) minutes. And then it's not fun anymore.

I know I'm digressing but the point is: even being frozen is welcome sometimes, at least for a little while.

My house has a GE Profile refrigerator from the last owner. It's hardly the Doha Four Seasons, but still, despite GE's boast that the Profile line "offer the best in contemporary design matched with the latest kitchen technologies," it contained no icemaker. And in the desert heat? Go figure.

So it's perhaps a bit strange it's taken me so long to finish this tiny home improvement project. Still, I got it done. Maybe I have more spare time now. (Or I'm desperately trying to avoid some important work project.) On the bright side, perhaps I'm on a roll after that kick-ass wifi thermostat project (see here).

So I ordered and installed the optional GE ice maker specifically designed for my sleek but icemaker-less GE fridge.

A little inconvenient perhaps, you have to disassemble and remove the freezer door to get room to mount the unit. It goes into the top left side of the bottom freezer compartment.

You also need to run a 1/4" water line from the supply line in the wall behind the fridge to supply the electronic icemaker inside the freezer compartment. There is a special hole in the back of the freezer that it pokes through.

Thus equipped, the icemaker painstakingly mints orange segment shaped and sized slices of ice a few at a time. And it drops them into a tray inside the freezer.

Like a tuna boat that goes fishing, you'll want the freshest ice that's at the top layer of the tray. Especially the ones with the still wet sheen.

Older ice are significantly less fresh tasting: over time they absorb any odors from other items in the freezer compartment.

Moreover, the ice segments actually get smaller as well over time since ice dries out.

Unfortunately, this slow and expensive icemaker doesn't come with a water filter. I had to get this separately.

I can hear the clatter every so often when I'm in the kitchen when the icemaker decides to dump a batch of new, virgin ice segments. It's perhaps a little annoying but at the same time the falling ice informs me that I have fresh tuna, sorry, ice ready to go.
(Of course it also has a sensor that tells it when to stop minting ice.)

This is a GXRTDR GE SmartWater Inline Filter Cartridge.

To be clear, it's not a water purifier like the ones you'd use for camping in the wilderness: the water must be potable to begin with. It's not designed to render water sources like streams into drinkable water.

But it's supposed to remove 70% of chlorine, 99.5% of particulates (class V), sediment and rust. (Flouride is not affected.)

It's nothing fancy (read: inexpensive) but it's supposed to improve the taste of the ice as the packaging states (important!). It also lasts for six months.

Since there is no provision for mounting the filter inside or on the fridge. I drilled a hole for a snap-in bracket next to the supply line tap. Seems better than velcroing the filter to the backside of the fridge at any rate.

They stock this at Home Depot and the installation is clearly designed for hamfisted homeowners like me. In other words, it's trivial.

You snip the 1/4" plastic water line, plug one end into the top of the filter and the other end into the bottom.

It uses a simple but ingenious capture-mechanism that grabs the plastic hose, and automatically and securely makes it watertight (at reasonable pressures).

(You don't want to install an icemaker or filter and have the headache of water leaks.)

It has the unfortunate side-effect of making my slow icemaker work even slower. I guess that's to be expected. After all, my Brita water filter jug drips the water slowly too.

Still, well then, how does it feel to have good, fresh-tasting ice?

Well, to be honest, like some things in life, I kinda regret having waited so long. Summer is just about over. You see, it's already the week after Labor day now, and it's cooling down here.

Maybe, we'll have an Indian summer. Maybe I'll make a few fresh fruit smoothies just for the fun of it. And perhaps there's next year.

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