The Chemistry of Ice Cream

Photo: Unsplash

From childhood to adulthood, our fondness for ice cream just never goes away. The binging on such frosty delights have never dwindled, it has just grown more intense. Who can resist sweets? I bet no one! Due to excessive addiction, we have always wanted to know its ingredients and how it is made. Of course, it is made up of cream, milk, and sugar. But digging deeper won’t hurt! In fact, this will feed your curiosity. So, let’s get going!

Defining Ice Cream

Did you know that there is a certain benchmark to hit to count something like ice cream? Meaning to say, the mixture of its known ingredients aren’t enough for it to be regarded as ice cream. Yes, it must follow certain criteria. What are these?

Milk fat or butterfat of the ice cream must range from 10 percent to 16 percent. Premium ice creams use 14 percent of this. Actually, a more copious amount of fat results in a creamier texture and tastier flavor. Non-fat milk solids should only measure to a minimum of 6%. But going for higher fat content would be very expensive and would hold many calories.

Here’s a surprise: sorbets, frozen yogurts, and low-fat ice cream are no ice cream at all. Why? Simply because they don’t follow the rules.

Technically, ice cream is defined as an emulsion – colloid in particular. An emulsion is a product of dispersion. Because two elements won’t blend with one another, one is equally distributed to the other. Got that? In this case, the fat globules are dispersed in a solution of water, ice, and sugar with the most important ingredient, air, making the ice cream foamy.

Emulsifiers and stabilizers also comprise ice cream. Compounds like xanthan gum and guar gum are used as stabilizers so the molecules of air bubble would be held together and create a more appropriate texture. Emulsifiers help a lot in smoothening the mixture and in dispensing the fat globules throughout the liquid phase. These two make up only less than 1% of the entire content.

The Importance of Homogenization

Yes, you read that right. The milk needs to be homogenized. To get the best results of ice cream, a process called homogenization must occur. What is this? The product that you want to achieve (and eventually eat) involves a lot of mixing.

You will need to get the smallest possible air bubbles, as milk needs the smallest particle size – so small that when they are dispersed to water, it will be inseparable from it. They need to be one with each other. Sweet, right? Yes, that is why ice creams are sweet. Pun intended!

The tiny air bubble structure will make the ice cream smooth, steady and soft. Plus, it will prevent it from easily melting. How do we get all the tiny bubbles? Unfortunately, if you’re doing a DIY, you can’t expect your hands to do all the hard work, because it simply won’t work.

If you wish to make ice cream for the family, getting yourself an efficient mixer would do. But, if you are to process the ingredients in bulks and produce a really huge amount of ice cream, you would need an emulsifying homogenizer like what Ginhong offers.

How Ice Cream Is Made

Let’s proceed to ice cream making. Doing this at home for the family and friends or at a factory that distributes ice creams in large quantities – the process is the same. What do we do? Here are the steps:

Get an ice cream mix

You can go to the nearest convenience store to buy a ready-made ice cream mix, but you can also make your own, just like how suppliers do it. It is composed of milk, cream, and sugar at the right proportions. Blend them! After that, it must be heated or pasteurized to make sure it is free from bacteria and other microorganisms. You would need a double boiler for this step.

Add your preferred flavor to it

What flavor do you want? Chocolate, vanilla, or fruity flavors? Whatever it is, this is the perfect time to add it. Use a food mixer and let it join the ice cream mix. In factories, they use giant mechanisms for this.

Let the machine do the churning

This step involves hitting two birds with one stone. The ice cream mixture needs to be strongly whipped while being frozen. How? During its manufacturing process at a factory, a giant tube surrounded by pipes makes it possible. Ammonia is placed inside the pipes, cooling and freezing the tube where the ice cream mix is churned and whipped by a rotating blade. Tiny air bubbles are then made out of the tossing.

Put some goodies

By this time, you can add those nuts or chocolate bars or other candies. Sprinkles would be nice too. Large chunks are very welcome to join.

Pour the mix into containers and let it freeze

Carefully set the mix into separate containers. Store it in your freezer at a very low temperature. It needs to freeze. Factories even need to make them much solid because the products can’t be easily melted. Rock salt can help in freezing them.


There you have it, the chemistry of ice cream – its definition, content, homogenization with a bonus of how it is made. Just remember that ice creams need a lot of intense mixing that most of the time, muscles aren’t enough. Mixers are a big help. Get yours now! Especially if you want to start an ice cream business and create your own. We hope this article has helped and that your cravings would be satisfied!

WE SAID THIS: Nothing is better than homemade!