Snow cone machines have four main parts: the hopper, push handle, blades and final container. Ice is set in the hopper and the user utilizes the push handle to move the ice through the blades where the ice is crushed and then sent to the container area.
Utilizing colder ice typically works best in a snow cone machine; however, ice that is too cold can be difficult for the blades to process. The blades crush the ice slowly, and very cold ice is harder to break down.
On traditional machines, the user has to monitor the speed at which the machine processes the ice. Putting more pressure on the push handle results in more ice reaching the blades at a faster rate. This leads to finer grain snow cones. More pressure ensures that the ice is properly broken down and the final product does not include large ice chunks.
Once the final product is in the container area, it is ready to serve. The ice shavings can be scooped into a vessel, traditionally a paper cup, and flavored. The flavoring comes in the form of syrup. Flavors vary greatly, but the more syrup is used, the stronger the flavor is.