Making Ice!

I seen have a common question asked among some of the backyard rink building groups: How long does it take to make ice? Well, this can be a loaded question, as it varies greatly by the weather and depth you are trying to freeze. You can really dig into the science behind how ice freezes, but for me I was trying to find the bottom line answer. There were two charts that I found that break it down pretty simply. The first showing ice growth over a day and the other over a week. Since for the most part people are trying to freeze a minimum of 4 inches you should be able to do that over a weeks time.

As you can see from the charts the temperature is relative to the growth of ice. There can be other factors as well such as depth, wind and snow or rain fall.

Once you have your base ice frozen, you may want to build more depth through base building/flooding/resurfacing/watering (there are many ways people refer to this process). The same science from above applies to building ice or resurfacing, but since you are only laying down a very thin layer of water it should freeze relatively quickly with the right conditions. The below chart should guide you when trying to determine the right temperature for resurfacing or base building. I found this chart in the literature from my NiceRink Resurfacer.

Degrees (F)Degrees (C)ResurfacingBase Building
350 to 3MarginalNot Advised
25 to 15-4 to -9FairMarginal
15 to 0-10 to -17GoodGood
0 to -10-18 to -23ExcellentVery Good
-15 / Lower-24 / lowerGoodExcellent

Now I will put a disclaimer on this, as I am no scientist but someone who is merely interpreting what I read. With science there are many variables, but I do hope this helps you get the general idea of how long it will take to get your rink up and running.

Filling Your Rink

So you have built your rink. Your neighbors or loved ones might think your crazy, but that’s just because they haven’t caught rink fever yet. Filling your rink and laying your liner down should go hand in hand. You don’t want the liner down for a long time without water in it, as you could be inviting problems like animals running across it, or worse the wind!

The key to this process is obviously the weather. You need to watch it like a hawk. You are shooting for a time frame where you have a minimum of three days of both daytime and nighttime temperatures below freezing, preferably well below freezing and not just on the cusp of it. In addition you want little to no snow and wind if possible. These are the keys to a successful fill of the rink.

The reason for no snow is that the snow will just mess with the ice trying to freeze. As we know snow is an insulator and can cause the ice to melt. With regard to wind, this is for trying to lay a liner down easier.

Trust me on the wind issue. My rink is 30×60 and the liner is a huge pain to manipulate while you have wind consistently lifting it.