The Ice Man
By Mark E. Melone
Most people rarely give much thought too, or understand how the ice they skate on is made. To that end allow me to explain and illustrate for you how the entire process is done. This is how to take a bare rink floor like the one below.
First, remove all dirt and debris from the floor surface. This can be very easily be done by a team of 5-6 men with brooms sweeping the floor from one end to the other, or a two-man team using a floor scrubber.
Next is to bring the floor down to temperature. When started, the compressors need to be brought up in stages to avoid overloading and causing any damage to the systems. Next is to bring the floor temperature to a maximum of 16 degrees before painting; 14 degrees is even better.
After the floor is down to the desired temperature, the next step is to lightly spray the entire floor with a light coating of water. The water will freeze almost instantly and I would recommend spraying twice, laying a paper thin glaze of ice over the entire floor.
The next step is to apply high quality white base ice paint; Jet Ice paint would be my recommendation. The white paint comes as a powder, and will need to be mixed with water and applied using a sprayer; shown below.
It is recommended to spray 3 to 4 coats of white ice paint over the entire floor surface. When successfully completed, your surface should like the one in the picture below.
After the paint has been applied, once again lightly spray water on the surface, sealing in the paint. It is recommended this be done 3-4 times to protect the paint. Never shoot hard streams of water on the ice paint as this will force the paint up, causing imperfections in the ice.
Now that the entire rink floor has been painted white, and “sealed in” with a few light coats of water, it is now time to lay out the lines, circles, face-off dots, and logos.
First, start out with the standard hockey lines and circles. The blue, center, and goal lines are marked out using string or yarn stretched from side to side to line up with the markings on the side boards. The face-off circles are drawn using a cable to spec size, and the dots, hash marks and goal creases drawn out using a template, as shown below:
Now it’s time to get your liquid colored paints and start painting, free-hand. This takes a fairly steady hand and with practice you will get better over time. The center and blue lines are painted 1 foot wide, while all red circles, hash marks and goal lines are 2 inches wide.
After your lines, circles, dots and goal creases are painted on; seal all the painted areas with light sprays of cold water.
Now comes time to lay out your logos. The logos used here are “stencil type”. They come as a large sheet that you lay out to the desired location on the ice. Mark them in using chalk and a broom to spread the chalk into the logo as seen below:
Again, as your logos are painted in, seal in the paint using a light spray of cold water. After all your painted areas are well sealed, get the hose out and start building in the ice. Begin by using a fairly light spray over the entire rink surface. After 5-6 layers, spray on the water a bit heavier.
Continue building ice in this manner until you reach your desired thickness: approximately 1 ¼ to 1 ¾ inches. At this point, raise the ice temperature to 18 degrees and finish laying water with the Zamboni.
When completed as seen below, lace up your skates, and get out there and enjoy the benefits of all your hard work!
Now that the ice is down, enjoy!
Mark E. Melone
Aka: The Ice Man
Questions for Mark can be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org