Ice Qualities

 The process of creating the ice sheet is more complex than just freezing a layer of water. There is a lot of science involved behind the scenes. There are five factors that contribute to the characteristics of a “good” ice sheet. “Good ice” refers to an ice sheet with smooth, fast, hard and solid structural characteristics. The five factors that create good ice are water quality and temperature, ice temperature, air temperature and humidity.

The water used to create the ice sheet should needs to be “soft”. This means that the minerals that are present in the water should not exceed 100ppm. Using “hard” water that contains over 100ppm total dissolved solids creates a rough, brittle surface. This is because the minerals rise to the surface as the water freezes, causing the water molecules not bind as tightly. The lose bonds and excessive mineral content causes friction on the skaters blade slowing them down. The temperature the water is frozen from is also important. The ideal water temperature when the water is first placed on the rink is between 140F⁰-160F⁰. The hot water contains low oxygen levels allowing for more tightly bonded water molecules upon freezing. The more tightly the water molecules freeze the better the ice quality will be. Once the ice sheet is frozen the refrigeration system keeps it solid. The ideal temperature for the ice to maintain its structural integrity is 24F⁰-26F⁰. If the ice is kept to cold it will become brittle and chip or flake causing holes in the surface. The air temperature and humidity are a major factor contributing to heat load of the ice sheet. The air temperature transfers heat to the ice surface causing it to melt compromising the ice strength. Humidity levels can cause the rink to fog and frost creating wet slow ice.