4 Reasons Why Your Ice Bath Test is Not Accurate

4 Reasons Why Your Ice Bath Test Is Not Accurate – Using an Instant Meat Thermometer

A digital or instant meat thermometer can help you get an accurate and exact temperature reading. However, many people don’t correctly use their thermometer, which is why they end up getting wrong readings when using their device. Sometimes the fault is in the thermometers as they are not good enough to read the accurate temperature.

To overcome challenges, experts suggest performing an ice bath test to evaluate whether or not the thermometer works properly. Continue reading the article to explore what is an ice bath test and how you can conduct it properly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that nearly 48 million US residents become ill due to eating unhealthy food. It clearly reflects that everyone is at risk for foodborne illness. Thus, people should pay a little bit extra attention when it comes to cooking food. You must cook and handle food safely no matter what.

In addition to that, what else you can do is to ensure that the food you are consuming is properly cooked. Eating undercooked or overcooked food may lead to severe health problems. Undercooked food may contain bacteria and contaminants in them that can cause serious foodborne illness ultimately. To reduce the chances of eating unhealthy food, it is highly recommended to get a meat or cooking thermometer to check if your food is properly cooked or you may need to keep it on fire for a few minutes more.

Ice Bath Test

An ice bath test is an examination performed to evaluate if a thermometer works properly or whether it may have some issues. Do you have a thermometer and are aware of whether it works properly or not? Or perhaps, you want to check its accuracy in temperature reading? Whatever the reason, for evaluating the thermometer’s accuracy it must be tested correctly. This includes what you test the thermometer in and where it is placed during the test.

Wondering how you can do it? Don’t panic. The process is simple. The ice bath test is the simplest and easiest way to determine if a thermometer is accurate or not. A good and accurate thermometer will read 32°F (0°C) in a properly made ice bath if your experiment is performed correctly.

What Do You Need to Conduct an Ice Bath Test?

You will need to have the following things:

  • Crushed ice cubes
  • 2 Glasses
  • Pure water
  • A thermometer

Conducting an Accurate Ice Bath Test

The first and foremost thing that you must keep in mind is that to conduct the test properly, you need to follow the procedure precisely. People mostly conduct this test wrongly which is why they end up getting inaccurate readings.

Here are the common mistakes people make while conducting this experiment and what is the proper way to perform this test for accurate results.

To show you the difference between an accurate and inaccurate ice-bath test, we will take two glasses with ice cubes in them. We will use an instant meat reading thermometer to perform this experiment.

1. Stirred vs. Unstirred Mixture

Let’s take a look at the difference between testing your thermometer in stirred and unstirred mixtures. We’ve filled both glasses with crushed ice as this is preferred because there will be fewer gaps between the ice. Fill water to about 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) below the top of the ice. First, we check the temperature in the ice bath that hasn’t been stirred. The thermometer – as you can see in the pic, records 32.5°F (0.3°C).

Stirred vs. Unstirred Mixture

Whereas, in the stirred ice, the thermometer reads exactly 32°F (0°C) which is what it should read. Stir the probe in the vertical center of the ice. Allow sufficient time for the thermometer reading to stabilize. Stirring the probe keeps the sensor from resting against an ice cube, which will affect the reading. Allow the probe to rest against ice cubes will give you inaccurate temperature readings.

Stirred vs. Unstirred Mixture 2

2. The Rested vs. Unrested Mixture

Next, we will see what happens if one glass of ice water is rested for 2 minutes while the other isn’t.

As you can see in the picture, when we place the thermometer in the water that didn’t rest for 2 minutes it reads a temperature around 38°F (3.3°C).

The Rested vs. Unrested Mixture

Whereas when we insert the thermometer in the ice water that is rested for 2 minutes the thermometer reads the exact and accurate temperature 32°F (0°C).

The Rested vs. Unrested Mixture 2

3. Wrong Ratio of Water with Ice

Another mistake that most people make is to use the wrong ratio of water and ice. You must ensure that the quantity of water and ice is accurate to check the thermometer.

In the first glass, water is 1/2 inch (1.3 cm)below the top of the ice. When we insert the thermometer into it. It reaches 32°F (0°C) as expected.

Wrong Ratio of Water with Ice

Whereas when we insert the thermometer in the glass with too much water that leads to floating ice, we get wrong readings like 34°F (1.1°C) or above.

Wrong Ratio of Water with Ice 3

4. Using CrushedIce Cubes Than larger Ones

Another blooper that you may make is to use larger ice cubes for thermometer reading. As you can see in the picture, in one glass we used 0.78inch (2cm) ice cubes, and the other glass contains 0.39 inch (1cm) ice cubes.

Before reading temperature, make sure to stir the water of both glasses and let it rest for 2 minutes. Upon placing a thermometer in the glass with 1cm large ice cubes we got the right temperature of 32°F(0°C).

Using Crushed Ice Cubes Than larger Ones.

Whereas, when inserting the thermometer in the second glass with 2cm large ice cubes it reads the temperature incorrectly as 34°F (1.1°C) or above.

Using Crushed Ice Cubes Than larger Ones 2


When testing a thermometer for accuracy make sure that you don’t make such bloopers that can result in inaccurate temperature readings in your ice-bath test and your future cooking. To check the thermometer’s working and if it is accurate, to avoid mistakes mentioned in this article.

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Final touch X10
chefstemp wireless meat thermometer
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