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To Clarify: Making Rink Ice

Posted December 14, 2011 1:59 PM by HUSH
Pathfinder Tags: ice ice rinks making ice Zamboni

via Circling the Wagons

Winter is here. ("Oh really," you say?) For many, that results in consistent bundling, complaining, traffic snarls and shoveling. For the cruel and twisted it means skiing, snowboarding, ice fishing and snowmen. Personally, I don't do any of the above (except complaining) but I do enjoy another winter pastime: ice hockey.

As a fan, it's a game of passion and speed. As a player, it's a morning on a frozen lake playing pond hockey or a few laps around the local indoor rink. It's here that I've found misconceptions about making ice for hockey and figure skating. The assumption: spray some water and turn the temperature down; that couldn't be farther from the truth.

Not pictured: bruises, missing teeth, hockey pugilism. Via WN School

To begin, most ice rinks only lay about ¾" to 1" of ice. Below the ice is a level surface of concrete embedded with miles of piping. Through these pipes, refrigeration units below the rink pump gallons of chilled antifreeze, often glycol or brinewater, to cool the concrete floor to just under 32 degrees (F). To keep the rink structure from cracking due to the cold, a layer of insulation is required under the chilled concrete.

A crew hoses down the concrete in sheets of water as thin as 1/32" so the ice making crew can monitor the level surface of the ice. After a day of this process, the ice should be build up to about ½". You've probably noticed that the ice in ice rinks is an unnatural white. That's because the ice crew is also responsible to paint the ice--all of it. After a layer of white paint the crew applies the hockey lines and logos (or if you're Canadian, curling lines).

via CVCC

via NHL

Another day of ice making should lead to an ice slab of about 1". It's important that the ice doesn't exceed much more than an inch. Thick ice means slower skating because the pressure of the ice is greater and more difficult to cool. Hockey ice is kept around 25 degrees while figure skating ice is raised by several degrees to make the ice softer and easier to grip. In some places, levels of humidity can create a fog over the ice and dehumidifiers need to be employed.

Of course, maintenance of the ice is crucial. All rinks require the use of an ice resurfacer-colloquially a Zamboni--which is either the most boring or most excellent thing you've ever seen, depending on your age and ease of excitability.

Entitled: zamboni: a boring video

Particularly in arenas, ice is covered by plywood if an event is hosted where the ice isn't used. The transition from a basketball court or other venue back to the ice only takes around 7 hours.

Finally, if you haven't been bored intrigued enough by this process, enjoy this video that should fill in any questions you're dying to ask.

Making rink ice



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Re: To Clarify: Making Rink Ice

12/15/2011 4:04 AM

Thanks for that - all I ever needed to know and didn't know who to ask...and more

Chaos always wins because it's better organised.
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Re: To Clarify: Making Rink Ice

12/15/2011 7:18 AM

Making the ice is one thing, managing the ice is another. Curling ice requires knowledge and expertise. Temperature variations of just 1°C at different points along the sheet can wreak havoc on your shot making. Throw in a large crowd and warm outside temperatures and your rock's speed and trajectory can change quickly. Frost creeping onto the ice, especially the outside sheets, adds another element to consider and manage.

I went to an NHL game the other night. Some guy was using one of those laser thermometer things to measure ice temperature every 15 minutes or so [as play allowed], but only at one point on the ice. No one seemed to know why the measurement was taken at that spot only.

I like to skate outside. I could sure use a little more grip [softer ice] when I'm doing my speed laps. I almost always plow myself into the boards.

Steve of the North...since 1962.
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