American Madness

Intelligent Criticism in the Service of a Better Nation


Posted by Matt Cipriano | 18 Comments

Okay, I’ve got to ask: “What’s up with Ice chewing?”

I like ice, no problem with it at all, in fact, I even like to chew ice. After I finish my drink I usually end up munching away on the ice. It is just something to do as far as I am concerned, I don’t consider it a hobby or a delicacy or anything and I am certainly not an ice conoseur or willing to go out of my way for a special type of ice (though admittedly of all of my friends I am the one most likely to make an out-of-the-way journey to some random location for a special type of ice).

Apparently though there is a rather large community of Ice-eaters, folks who are very serious about their ice, some going as far as to have special ice machines installed in their homes or willing to go to specific restaurants for specific types of ice. The Wall Street Journal just ran an article on Ice Chewing and from there I even learned about a website specifically for ice chewers (though I am not sure why this surprises me, there are websites for pretty much everything).

If there are any ice chewers out there reading this over could you explain this craze to me? Is ice you version of a low-fat snack? A quick cool down? Do you consider yourself an ice chewer? Or is just something you do and realized other people have the same obsession?

Then there are all the questions about the ice itself…


18 Responses to “Pagophagia”

  1. Mary
    February 1st, 2008 @

    I always thought there were more people annoyed with ice chewing.

  2. Josh Friedlander
    February 2nd, 2008 @

    I thought ice chewing was supposed to indicate sexual frustration.

  3. Ripa
    July 7th, 2008 @

    Hi! I was just passing by your article! And i would lyk to answer your question for you, but to understand the answer itself you have to experience it yourself!

    Ice chewing is definately lyk having a snack, you see i’m addicted to crisps and its the same thing with ice. I really dont know why its so addictive, and i’m hoping you might know the answer! lol I have to admit i think i’m beginning to suffer from this disease ‘pagophagia’, it sounds crazy because i never thought it was serious at all! Do you know the effects of this disease?

  4. Matt Cipriano
    July 9th, 2008 @

    Hi Ripa,
    Pagophagia is thought to possibly be a form of Pica, an eating disorder that compels people to eat non-nutritive substances ( One of the causes may be related to anemia or an iron deficiency.

    Other then that brief bit of info, you might want to contact your physician to discuss this more in depth with a professional.

  5. Dr. Bryan
    March 27th, 2009 @

    I have heard my entire life that somebody “thought ice chewing was an indicator of sexual frustration” This is just a complete myth and absolutely ridiculous. The original Austrian psychiatrist who said that ice chewing had to deal with sexual frustration, was, in my professional and humble opinion, an idiot. And a coke addict.

    Chewing ice is simply a medical condition called pagophagia. Those who are anemic probably suffer from this, although there are other causes, some which do not have a medical explanation.

  6. Kevin amstrong
    January 20th, 2010 @

    Hi i love you

  7. bernie
    February 23rd, 2011 @

    i love chewing ice, i love crunchy ice, i though it wasn’t anything wrong with eating ice because ice is water right, eating ice should not be class with pica, ice is not harmful to the body. i can go without eating ice for weeks, i have practice this, i don’t feel i am addicted to ice, i feel i just choose to eat it.

  8. Traci
    June 6th, 2011 @

    Ice chewing is a serious compulsion for me, to the point that I can “smell” it and “taste” it even when I 1st wake up in the morning, and once I start crunching away, I literally cannot stop until my cup is empty. Even if there is something that needs my attention. In my case, it is directly related to my iron deficiancy anemia. Whether I go through a blood transfusion or IV iron infusions, as soon as my hemoglobin is up in the normal ranger, I lose the complusion altogether and won’t chew a single piece of ice. I can guage just how low my iron is, by how strong the compulsion is…right now, it’s down around 8 and I can’t tear myself away from my ice.

  9. Jenna
    June 21st, 2011 @

    This is interesting – just lately I have LOVED chewing on ice!! I figure, hey, it’s WATER so it can’t be unhealthy. Then my boss (a REALLY pompous ass) lectured me on how eating ice destroys acid in stomach and makes people get osteoperosis. So anyway, it looks like that’s not true (not surprising – he is SOOOO weird) but I just fail to see how it can be a problem.

    I’ll tell you why I like eating ice – it’s the cold feeling it gives me in my throat, right between the back of my tongue before it slides down my throat – that part of my throat always feels dry and I LOVE the cold cool ice right there! (okay, that may sound like a sexually frustrated person, but truly, that’s NOT a problem haha)

  10. Karren
    August 26th, 2011 @

    Hello, Im a classic example of a pican. I have been iron deficient for years without knowing it. All my life I liked chewing the ice at the bottom of my glass and a few extra cubes and chips too. The last 5 years has been a roller coaster of eating, crunching and searching for perfect Ice. I eat 10 lbs or so a day now, although Im working on my iron problem through bringing an end to my heavy menstral bleeding with (surgery 3 weeks ago). I go to my favorite ice store 3 or 4 times a day and fill a 64 oz and two 44oz cups. This is the normal and not the extreme. 3 years ago I was in a living situation that didnt allow regular runs to the ice store (mini mart) so I had a store of fresh SNOW that I cultivated and ate from. luckily I live in the cascade mountains in the country where I deemed it “clean” enough to eat and eat I did. Im looking forward to stopping this when my iron goes up! My hemaglobin was 8 with a ferratin of 4 before my surgery. My aneamia has stollen 5 years of my life. I am a 50 year old single Mom and dont date or work a normal job because of it. My memory and thinking is foggyer, I have restless leggs and body every night and dont sleep much. I am embarrased by my constant crunching and inability to hold still at night. If you have pagophagia and havent been to the doctor go…it can actually ruin your life!

  11. lexie
    September 1st, 2011 @

    i eat ice all the time too, ever since i was little i have. i have heard it has to do with iron defficincies (but im pretty sure your doctor would know by a certain age is you have a iron deficiancy and you would take medication or somethin), stress, or emotional problems.

    i dont eat ice for any of those reasons, i eat it because i like the taste (even tho there isnt really that much of a taste), and i love to snack so ice being water has no calories so i can snack on it alllll i want, yummy :)

  12. stimpy
    January 18th, 2012 @

    My co-worker crunches ice all day every day and the noise from the crunching but mainly the shaking of it down hard plastic glass make me NUTS.

    I shut my door and put on music and a white noise program but right now it is so distracting I feel like looking for another job.

  13. Sharlene
    February 17th, 2012 @

    I am in the same situation of Traci about…except I’ve never had a blood transfusion. Today I’ve just received a call from my dr giving me the results of a recent blood test. I am currently 8.5 and knew it would be that low due to the amounts of ice that I was consuming. Some mornings I would get up and the first thing I do is eat ice…I carry a plastic cup in the car and any house I go to I ask for ice…I even pay for cups of ice.
    Thing is I don’t want to take any supplements as I know that I will eventually stop eating ice….but I have to as it is becoming very serious as I have chest pains and i’m always tired.

  14. Carol
    March 9th, 2012 @

    i eat ice all the time, i take a cup with me everytime i leave my house and i make ice at work. its gotten so bad that i actually bring ice in from home to get me through the day. i didn’t always have this problem just in the last year i developed the desire. i have been going through all sorts of tests and have been told that i have Pica because I am iron deficient. so if you too just start craving ice, get some blood work done its probably iron deficiency! Oh and be careful it really isn’t good for your teeth, i’ve already had to have a filling replace!

  15. Melissa W
    June 9th, 2012 @

    Hey I am a huge ice person I also am a very iron deficient anemic. I am a bit particular about my ice I won’t chew reg ice cubes. I use sugar free vanilla syrup and add it to diet coke and freeze half way, crunch it up, shake it and get crisp pieces of ice. It makes me so happy and I definitely over consume! But I love it and it tastes amazing! If it helps my anemia no clue.

  16. Donna
    June 29th, 2012 @

    At 16 I crunched 3lbs of ice daily. With a RBC count of 6.0 and a BP of 90/50,I was pale, weak and passed out constantly. I couldn’t imagine NOT obsessing over cubes. Hoapitalized for 2 weeks I begged for ice and was so mad that no one would comply. After a month with iron supplementation the desire was lost COMPLETELY. Fastforward, I’m now 46 and the cube crunching is an overwhelming temptation. And I have a chipped tooth to prove it. How could I have forgotten…Routine bloodwork revealed a RBC count of 9.4. I am tired all the time, accompanied by shortness or breath and dizziness. If you are cube obsessed PLEASE take supplements immediately. You’d be surprised how fast the craving looses its luster.

  17. Barb Hodges
    August 17th, 2012 @

    I didn’t start having this compulsive behavior until recently. In fact, I am sure that it is due to my pregnancy. I am probably Iron deficient as well and do not know it, but beyond that prior to this pregnancy, ice chewing seemed ludicrous to me due to all the negative outcomes. Its strange though, the crunch, the sensation and texture is so addicting. I hope that once I have my baby this behavior with cease because I dont want to wreck my teeth.

  18. Carly Trenee'
    September 11th, 2012 @

    Hi! I have Pagophagia and have been doing a lot of reading on it…it is a for of Pica, which is when people like to eat things unfit for food (i.e. clay, dirt, glue, etc.). Pica is known because people are usually lacking something in their body. Pagophagia usually comes from being anemic, or a loss in iron in the blood. Stop eating ice while you can because it causes teeth, throat, tounge, stomach and cheek issues. Plus your mouth will burn after a while. Stop while you can so you don’t get addicted!

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