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posted Feburary 15, 2006

Ice Thickness

Each time the ice surface is flooded, the ice slab increases in thickness. While this increase is minimal, there is an additive effect throughout the rink season. Rain events also create thicker ice if the excess water is not scraped off before temperatures fall below freezing. Thicker ice requires more energy to keep it frozen on warmer or sunny days. On these days, the refrigeration plant may not be able to keep a thicker ice sheet frozen, resulting in the sloppy ice that we've all come to know and hate. Ice that is as little as one inch thicker than the optimum thickness (3/4) requires up to 15-20% more energy on warm or sunny days, and hence substantially greater operating costs.

The following figure illustrates typicall the energy requirement dependency on ice thickness:

Adapted from: Manitoba Hydro, URL:

In addition to energy savings, closely controlling ice thickness also makes the quality of ice more consistent because the ice surface temperature is closer to the rink floor and coolant temperature.

Effective ice surface management practices for maintaining the ice at an optimum thickness include:

  • Alternate flooding and scraping of the ice surface

  • Increased scraping frequency when air temperatures are above zero

  • Shovelling ice surface immediately following rain/snowfall events

Further information

Research by Corey Chivers

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Content last modified on November 26, 2007, at 08:02 AM EST