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Making Indoor Ice
January 2003

Simply freezing a certain amount of water at one time does not create the surface that is used in ice rinks. It takes anywhere from 12,000 to 15,000 gallons of water layered in at least twelve stages to make an ice surface suitable for a professional hockey game.

Ideally, indoor ice should be one inch thick. A thick surface is too soft and slows skaters down as they skate across the ice. Thin ice is dangerous because skaters could penetrate the surface and cut through the ice.

The first two layers of water are sprayed on in a mist, each of which is approximately 1/30th of an inch thick. The second frozen layer is painted white so that the black hockey puck will be easily seen on the ice. The third layer of water is then sprayed on, which is 1/16th of an inch thick. After the paint is sealed in underneath the third layer, the hockey markings are added, including the lines, creases, and face-off circles. The final layer (or layers) is then applied after all markings and related logos are painted on the surface. The remaining 10,000 gallons are sprayed on gradually with a hose.

Indoor ice is created by the same technology that is used in refrigerators and air conditioners. Instead of cooling ice directly, however, the refrigerant cools brine water – a calcium-chloride solution – that is pumped through pipes that are embedded in the concrete floor underneath the ice. Beneath the pipes and ice-bearing concrete slab is a layer of insulation, a heated layer of concrete, and a sand and gravel base. A ground water drain is located at the bottom of the sand and gravel base, in the event that the rink needs to be drained.

Zamboni ice resurfacing machines are used to maintain a high quality of indoor ice before, during, and after ice hockey games. As the Zamboni moves across the rink, the machine's blade shaves the ice to produce a smooth surface. The shavings are then collected and discarded into a snow tank inside of the machine. The ice is immediately washed with water and a squeegee conditioner, and finally clean hot water is spread onto the ice surface with a towel.

Because many of today's large sporting complexes are used for different sports, activities, and events, indoor ice, when not in use, can be covered with insulation, and a different surface can be placed on top of the ice. One such insulation, Homasote Ice Deck, is a moisture-resistant structural panel that can be placed directly over indoor ice for temporary conversion of an ice rink for other activities. Homasote Ice Deck is manufactured by the Homasote Company of West Trenton, New Jersey.


 
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