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Does Ice Sharpen Garbage Disposal Blades

There is a common misconception among people that garbage disposals have blades. They are basically grinders that use impellers to break food; they do not have sharp blades like those in a blender. However, many people call them blades out of convenience and for ease of understanding. The question here is; do ice cubes sharpen garbage disposal blades?

Ice cubes help to clean and sharpen garbage disposal blades. The abrasive action of the ice cubes removes any debris sticking to the grinding components in a garbage disposal and keeps them clean.

But didn’t I just say garbage disposers do not have blades! Confused? Let me explain;

How does ice sharpen garbage disposal blades

There are two things wrong with the above title. One is that garbage disposals do not use blades, but blunt impellers mounted on a fast rotating disc to break down food. The second is, since the impellers are blunt, any amount of ice cannot sharpen them.

Here is how a garbage disposal work;

As you can see from the above video, the food wastes are broken down by forcing them against a stationary grind ring. Once the food wastes are small enough to get through the holes of the grind ring, they are flushed away into the sewers. Even though the whole process sounds lengthy, all of these happens in mere seconds.

Garbage disposals are powerful machines. They turn food wastes into pulp. But this pulp of food wastes is not always washed away properly. The sticky pulp can bind to the grinding components, i.e., the impellers and the grind ring. Once food wastes start sticking to the impellers and the grind ring, aka the garbage disposal blades, the grinding becomes inefficient. It will take more and more time to grind food wastes each time.

There is only one way to undo this situation, by cleaning the garbage disposal. There are many ways to clean a garbage disposal but grinding ice cubes is the easiest of them. Here is how it is done;

  1. Load the garbage disposal with a few trays of ice cubes. The ice cubes should fill its entire grinding chamber.
  2. Run plenty of hot water and run the garbage disposal
  3. Wash away all the sludge that comes out of the garbage disposer into the sink
  4. Wait till all the ice cubes are ground. Then turn off the disposal and water.

You won’t believe how much gunk was sticking to its grinding components until you actually do this. If you don’t regularly clean your garbage disposal the food particles will start to rot causing the garbage disposal to smell.

How does this work?

Ice cubes are slightly abrasive. They are not abrasive as sand, which will definitely damage your garbage disposal. Ice cubes won’t damage the disposal’s grinding components, but they are hard enough to remove the gunk inside. When ice cubes hit the disposal’s blades they dislodge any materials sticking to it. Ice cubes also enter the tiny spaces beneath the grinding components displacing anything there.

Even if some of these ice cubes get stuck beneath the grinding components, they are of no trouble since they will melt away in a few seconds. So they are completely safe to be ground in waste disposals.

Will adding loads of ice cubes get my disposal stuck?

Yes and no, depending on your garbage disposal. I haven’t personally tried adding them in entry-level units; it is possible that filling those disposals with ice cubes can jam them. If you are not sure, add the ice cubes in smaller batches.

If your garbage disposal got stuck when you added ice cubes, give it ten or 15 minutes for the ice to melt. Press the reset button (it must have popped out when the disposal got stuck) and rerun the disposer.

Further reading:

My name is Thomas Anderson, author of DisposalQA. I have 15 years experience working as a plumber in CA, and this is where I answer common questions about garbage disposals.