Common questions about our ice cream carts and cold plate freezers

When it comes to ice cream carts, cold plate freezers, dipping cabinets, and other frozen dessert equipment, C. Nelson is an established expert. With over one hundred years of experience, we’ve seen it all and – more importantly – we’ve worked with customers to address it all. Whether you’re looking to start a new ice cream truck business or you need to replace your existing equipment, you can count on our team to work with you to understand your challenges, identify opportunities, and recommend equipment that will exceed your expectations. You can view answers to some commonly asked questions about our products below. Of course, if you can’t find the answer that you need, don’t hesitate to reach out to us via our contact page.

  • Cold plates are filled with a saline eutectic solution that is chemically mixed to freeze at a specific temperature.
  • The plates have a thickness of 1.5” and the length and width vary depending on the cabinet on which it is used.
  • The solution that fills the plate cannot be adjusted to hold another temperature once it is made.
  • Cold plates cannot be exchanged once the cart is built, nor can they be removed from the freezer.
  • The number and size of cold plate(s) depends on the customers desired holding temperature and the cabinet size.
  • To use, plug the unit into a regular 115 volt outlet and run overnight. Prior to transporting to your event, unplug the freezer and go make money! You can expect ten to twelve hours of holding power in 90 degrees before you will need to plug in and recharge.
  • Cold plate cabinets are built with condensing units and evaporator coils. When the cabinet is plugged in, the condensing unit sends refrigerant through the walls by way of the copper evaporator coils and it freezes the walls. The cold plates have refrigerant lines inside that freeze the plates.
  • Cold plates attached to the walls freeze by contact with the help of a mastic glue-type material.
  • Another type of cold plate offered is a re-useable cold pack. These plates are constructed with plastic exteriors and sold at different holding temperatures. The cold plate must be flat (horizontal) when placed in a cabinet in order to freeze. To entirely freeze the cold pack, 24 hours is required at -20 degrees. Your cart size will determine how many cold packs are needed, but two sets are suggested due to the length of time required for optimum use.

Our mobile carts contain digital thermostats and can be adjusted to any desired temperature when plugged into an electrical source. However, the set point of the cold plate cannot be altered, it can only be bypassed by using the digital thermostat when plugged in.

Check out this video to see how our can clamp system works!

Check out this video to see how our Ropak system works!

Below are FAQs about the re-usable cold packs, but you can also check out this video for some more information!

  • Q: How long do they last?
  • A: No good answer to this general question, it depends on many factors.
    • How hot is the ambient temperature?
    • Are the cold packs being used only for maintaining temperature in a passive situation, such as transporting temperature sensitive good from one point to another without using dry or wet ice?
    • Are they being used in an “active” situation with the door/lid being opened frequently while serving or preparing a product?
      • The answers to these questions will effect how long the cold packs last.

What are the best type of insulated foam for the coldpacks?

  • Best: containers that use urethane foam
  • Second Best: Expanded polypropylene insulation
  • Third Best: Styrofoam, i.e. blue/green board
  • Fourth Best: EPS or expanded polystyrene, i.e. cheap white cooler are made out of this

From what are the cold packs made?

  • The shell is a food-grade HDPE (high density polyethylene) and the liquid inside is a true eutectic solution.
  • Eutectic is a fancy word that refers to a substance that has the same consistent chemistry as the material goes through the transition of water to ice and back to water repeatedly. The eutectic solution in our cold packs are basically salt water with some other traces of alcohols and some “magic dust”. These solutions, while not pleasant to drink, are non-toxic.
  • True eutectics (as opposed to glycols or organic materials like the “blue ice” stuff you can buy for keeping your lunch chilled) are the most efficient method to store “cold” energy. You get the most stored energy per pound of material.

What temperatures are necessary to freeze the cold packs?

  • A freezer at least 10 degrees COLDER than the freezing solution of the cold pack is required. 15-20 degrees colder is best.
    • 26 degree solution requires at least 16 degree temps, 10 degree works better.
    • 3 degree solution requires at least -7 degree temps, -10 to -15 works better.
    • -6 degree solution requires at least -15 degree temps, -20 works better.

Every Health Department in every county has different regulations for vending and store operations. You should prepare to answer these questions when inquiring about mobile food vending permits:

  • What product will you be vending?
  • Do your products contain dairy or non-dairy? Pre-packaged or dipping? Are you selling or sampling?
  • Where will you be located? Mobile or a fixed location? If your proposed venue has a common commissary, let your Health Department know. They may not require a sink attached to the cart.
  • We have drawings and specs you can download and submit to your Health Department that will help speed up the process.

Verify with your Health Department to see if you need a hand-washing sink or a utensil washing sink. You may need one or both attached to your cart. We can customize our carts to accommodate your needs.

  • Press the SET key and hold until the temperature settings displays and begins to flash (2 seconds), then release.
  • Use the up and down arrows to select the new temperature desired.
  • Press and release the SET key: The display will return to show the temperature of the freezer.