What is Synthetic Ice?

synthetic ice

Within the last several months there has been a significant amount of people inquiring about synthetic ice. Because of the pandemic and everybody having to stay home more, hockey players and ice skaters have been building their own ice rinks at home out of this amazing invention. What a great way to have a way to practice whenever you want, at any time of year without having to keep up with the costs of refrigeration and upkeep. But, what is it? Keep reading and you will soon know the answer to this mysterious question.

Polyoxymethylene Plastic

Yes, this is a big word. Back in the 1950s a group of people got together and figured out a way to create an ice-like flooring. Of course, there was a lot of learning curves and let downs in the process, but they got the ball rolling on an indisputably terrific idea. This type of plastic had its flaws. For starters, you could not get true ice feeling on it unless you added a lubricant to the flooring to make it slick enough for the ice skating blades to correctly travel across it. The idea of synthetic ice was in the makings, and on its way to stardom.

Polyethylene Plastic

In the 1980s a new type of plastic which was deemed high-density polyethylene came into the picture. Although it was not the high tech synthetic ice that we see today, it was a few steps up from the older version. With this new type of synthetic ice you had to apply a gliding agent on the surface once every thirty days in order to keep it slick. You also had to take good care of it and regularly clean it in order to keep buildup from forming on it. Yes, you still have to maintain your synthetic ice flooring today, but you don’t have to apply gliding agents on it and continually clean it every few weeks.

Modern Synthetic Ice

Now, in the late 20th century, we have a brand new kind of synthetic ice that works so well that many people even prefer it over real ice. They are still made of durable polymers that can withstand the abuse of ice skaters and skating blades and can be made with their own special ingredients that allow for it to be able to remain slick and smooth without adding anything to it. Synthetic ice that is made today comes in various sizes, from one foot by one-foot squares to two-foot by four-foot panels. Both sizes come with easy to install interlocking tabs on each side so users can place them on a hard, flat surface and lock them tightly together in order to form a tight, strong bond that makes a flooring without flaws or seams. Yes, you can see where the seams are, but you can’t feel them because of the way they are manufactured. This flawless surface allows people to skate across them without bumps and crevices and allows for the pucks to slide easily over the top as well.

Skating on Synthetic Ice

The biggest difference between synthetic ice and real ice is, of course, the temperature and the fact that synthetic ice does not melt. When you skate across it, it is a lot like real ice, but not quite. There is a bit of a difference in the drag of the flooring so that it takes an extra amount of energy to skate on. It takes a bit more muscle power to push yourself and maintain a good speed. Once you get used to the difference, it is not such a big deal, but it takes a few minutes to get used to. The good thing about the extra force is that it builds strength and stamina so that when you go back to the real ice, it will seem like you’re skating on air.