FirstBuild Opal Nugget Ice Maker Review

Nugget ice makers usually cost thousands of dollars making them unfeasible for most households, however FirstBuild Opal nugget ice maker might be a game changer as it’s sold for a fraction of the price of other nugget ice makers making it somewhat affordable and dream of producing your own nugget ice at home attainable. The only question is – is it worth the money?

IMPORTANT: Firstbuild Opal as of now is sold as GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker

So what is nugget ice?

You probably already know but if you don’t here is a quick explanation:

Nugget ice (also known as pellet / pebble / chewable / sonic ice) is flaked ice compressed into small nuggets. Due do this it has air pockets which fills up with liquid when you put nugget ice inside the drink – this way it “absorbs the flavor” of the drink and cools it better than regular ice cubes too due to increased surface area between the liquid and ice.

But the best thing is that air pockets give nugget ice soft, airy and crunchy texture which makes it incredibly satisfying to chew on – if you know, you know, but if you have never tried it then words will probably fail to explain. Still – some describe it as chewing on a cloud (heavenly one at that).

FirstBuild Opal Nugget Ice Maker

It takes 15 minutes for Firstbuild Opal to make first batch of nugget ice and from then on it makes 1 lb of ice per hour. First batch often turns out wet and too soft so you might be disappointed at first however following batches produce great nugget ice. Second batch of nugget ice drops about 5 minutes after the first one meaning it takes 20 minutes from turning on the machine to enjoying proper nugget ice.

FirstBuild Opal Nugget Ice vs Sonic Ice

So how good are nugget ice cubes made with FirstBuild Opal ice maker? They are really good, however not quite as good as sonic ice.

Sonic ice seems to have richer and more complicated air-pocket texture making it even more crunchy and satisfying to chew on. The difference of texture can also be noticed when you put it inside the drink, sonic ice absorbs the color of liquid better. That being said nugget ice produced by FirstBuild Opal is not disappointing at all, it’s just slightly worse than sonic ice which is not really a surprise since sonic ice is produced with machines that are a lot more expensive costing thousands of dollars.

If you like sonic ice you will also like nugget ice made with FirstBuild Opal ice machine.

Features, noise, maintenance and more

It has only one button (that turns the ice maker on or off) with indicator light that output different colors depending on whether machine is making ice, going through cleaning cycle, needs water added or has ice bin full. On the back of Opal pebble ice maker you will also find a toggle switch that toggles between “ice” and “cleaning” modes.

FirstBuild Opal ice machine has ice bin that can hold 3 lbs of nugget ice. It detects when the ice bin is full and stops producing new ice until there is free space from either you scooping some ice cubes away or the old ones melting. It reuses water from melted ice cubes for making new ones. You have to use potable (drinkable) water with mineral hardness of no more than 12 gpg (205 ppm).

Overall it cannot be described as loud but it does make some noise when operating. Most of the time it outputs relatively quiet humming noise that shouldn’t be an obstruction however sometimes it will make louder scraping/growling type of noises which can be annoying but they don’t last long.

Manufacturer recommends cleaning Opal ice maker once a week which is probably a bit of an overkill. We can’t recommend going against manufacturer guidelines, yet with that being said cleaning it once a month or maybe even a bit less frequently that that probably will be fine if you don’t feel like cleaning it every week. Cleaning it is pretty simple though – just flush it with weak mixture of bleach and water. Draining it is simple too – remove two silicone tubes that are located at the back of the machine and pull the drain plug.

You can control FirstBuild Opal Nugget Ice maker with app on your smartphone. It doesn’t offer a lot of functionality but it allows you to schedule ice production and turn the inner light on/off.

Firstbuild Opal sonic pellet ice maker measures 15.5 inches deep, 10.5 inches wide and 17.25 inches tall. It looks pretty nice too, design is elegant and sleek and with the stainless steel housing it looks great.


Firstbuild Opal makes great nugget ice (although not perfect), is simple to use and looks great. Although it’s by far the cheapest machine to make proper nugget ice it’s still somewhat expensive. If you like nugget ice and consume it occasionally then it might not be worth the money, however if you love it and will enjoy it regularly then you absolutely need this machine!

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