How Does Hockey Ice Stay Frozen

How Does Hockey Ice Stay Frozen

Hockey ice stays frozen due to the combination of several factors. Here are 5 supporting facts explaining how this process works:

1. Temperature control: Maintaining a temperature below freezing is crucial for keeping the ice frozen. Hockey arenas are equipped with refrigeration systems that keep the temperature of the ice rink at or below 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit).

2. Insulation: The ice surface is insulated from the warmer air and ground temperature by layers of materials. Typically, the ice is built on top of a concrete or solid base, which acts as a thermal barrier, preventing heat from seeping into the ice.

3. Cooling system: Refrigeration pipes are embedded in the concrete or directly under the ice surface. A chilled coolant (often a mixture of glycol and water) flows through these pipes, extracting heat from the surface and maintaining a sub-freezing temperature.

4. Zamboni resurfacing: During breaks between periods or games, ice resurfacing is performed using a Zamboni or similar ice resurfacer. This machine scrapes off the top layer of ice, eliminating any rough patches or cuts, and then adds a thin layer of water. This process helps maintain the ice’s integrity and quality.

5. Humidity control: Managing the humidity levels in the arena is essential to prevent the ice from melting. The air inside the rink must be kept dry, as moisture can condense on the ice surface and cause it to soften or melt.


1. How low is the temperature in a hockey rink?
The temperature in a hockey rink is usually maintained between minus 5 to minus 9 degrees Celsius (23 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit). This range ensures that the ice remains frozen and provides optimal playing conditions.

2. Why is insulation important for keeping the ice frozen?
Insulation helps prevent heat transfer from the surroundings to the ice surface. Without proper insulation, heat from the air and ground could melt the ice quickly. By insulating the ice, the refrigeration system can maintain the necessary sub-freezing temperature more efficiently.

3. How often is ice resurfacing performed during a game?
Ice resurfacing typically occurs before the game starts and during the intermissions between periods. The frequency can vary depending on the specific league or event, but it is common to resurface the ice every 15 to 20 minutes of playing time.

4. What happens if the humidity levels are too high in the arena?
If the humidity levels are too high, moisture can accumulate on the ice surface, leading to a softer and slushier playing surface. Additionally, excess humidity can affect the visibility and performance of the players. To counter this, dehumidification systems are used to maintain ideal conditions.

5. Can outdoor hockey rinks stay frozen without refrigeration?
Yes, outdoor hockey rinks can stay frozen without refrigeration, especially in colder climates. The natural freezing temperatures can keep the ice frozen, but insulation is still necessary to minimize heat transfer from the ground.

6. How long does it take to freeze a hockey rink from scratch?
Freezing a hockey rink from scratch can take several days, depending on various factors such as temperature, humidity, and ice thickness requirements. Typically, it can take anywhere from 48 to 72 hours to create a suitable ice surface.

7. What materials are used in the construction of hockey arenas to support ice freezing?
Hockey arenas are constructed using concrete or similar solid materials for the base. These materials act as thermal barriers, preventing heat from penetrating the ice surface. Additionally, refrigeration pipes are installed within the base or under the ice to maintain sub-freezing temperatures.

Hockey ice stays frozen due to a combination of factors like temperature control, insulation, cooling systems, ice resurfacing, and humidity control. These elements work together to create and maintain a frozen playing surface in hockey arenas.