1800 – ice becomes artificial

With artificial ice the production of gelato multiplies

The history of artificial ice is long and complex; here we are only highlighting some of its stages. Michael Faraday, a British chemist and physicist, discovers some chlorine compounds and is able to liquify it, giving support to the theory on the change of state of gas. In 1864 Carré patents a cooling system working with compressed ammonia, but it’s Carl Paul Gottfried von Linde who, in 1869, produces the first industrial plants for the production of artificial ice. For the gelato makers this invention is the turning point: from that moment on, the diffusion of the production of gelato spreads like wildfire all around the world.

 The snow trading comes to an end

With the invention signed by von Linde, the snow wells, ice houses for the conservation of ice and snow gradually end up in oblivion. Artificial ice is produced everywhere in the world and the profession of “nevaiolo”, assigned to the care, conservation and transport of snow and ice, disappears. Ice is now produced in large loaves, transported on carts pulled by horses and delivered to the customers’ homes.

Sugar, water, air, milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables: everything can be frozen! Word of Francesco Leonardi (1808)

Sorbets: water, sugar, officinal herbs, flowers, tubers, spices, fruits, vegetables: those were and are the raw ingredients used to make the syrup at the base of sorbets; even wines, beers or liquors can be a part of this huge family of delicacies.


Sorbet maker: ice and salt, until the beginning of the Twentieth century, did the rest. Three parts of ice and one part of salt can bring the temperature down to -17°C, but by increasing in proportion the quantity of salt, the temperature can drop down to -40°C. In the absence of ice, water and an equal quantity of pounded nitrate of ammonia can be used: this blend brings the mixture down to -10°C.


There is another ingredient, very hard to visualize, and yet equally important: air; without incorporation of air, in fact, gelato and sorbets wouldn’t be the soft, sweet cloud that everyone knows and loves. And finally, all the raw ingredients in the world would be useless if there wasn’t a thinking human being, full of passion and professionalism: the artisan gelato maker.