If you enjoy ice skating but don’t like waiting in lines or having to go in public so you can get a good skating session in, you’ve probably wondered about making your own skating rink. If you live in the right part of the country, all you really need to do is wait for winter then find a nice frozen pond and you can skate to your heart’s content, but other parts of the country are a little trickier to get your skating fix. If you don’t live in a part of the country that gets that cold, you may want to look into getting some synthetic ice so you can create your own skating rink.
What Exactly is Synthetic Ice?
Synthetic ice is a relatively new product, and many people may still be unaware of it. So, what exactly is synthetic ice? Well, the simple answer is that it’s a synthetic material that emulates ice and allows you to skate on it using regular metal skates. It’s used by hockey rinks all around the country because it doesn’t melt, so they don’t have to worry about keeping the rink at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0 degrees Celsius, for those readers that don’t live in the United States.
The less simple answer is a little more involved. Synthetic ice is a solid polymer panel that is specially designed for skating. Rinks are created with interlocking tiles, and because of this, the entire rink is modular. If one tile somehow manages to get broken, all you need to do is replace that single tile instead of having the entire rink serviced.
Synthetic ice has been used in some form since the 1960s. The first synthetic ice that was used wasn’t very good for skating, and it was made from polyoxymethylene plastic, as well as a few other materials. This didn’t allow for skaters to glide as easily as ice and it got a buildup of dirt and debris, so it made things even more tricky for those that were trying to skate on it.
In 1962 someone else tried using this first form of synthetic ice, but this time with some added gliding spray. The gliding spray actually worked out great, but the rink did need to be resprayed at least once a month to keep things running smoothly, but when the rink wasn’t sprayed down it was usable for other sporting activities.
In the last 60 years, there has been a lot of improvement. New specially designed polymers were designed and created specifically with ice skating in mind, and new kinds of lubricants were invented to go along with the new polymers to help keep the rink clean and in great shape for ice skaters. At this point in time, many people estimate that synthetic ice allows skaters to glide with 90% of the efficiency of real ice.
Is Synthetic Ice Better Than Real Ice?
Now, synthetic ice and real ice are two very different things. Synthetic ice was designed in a lab specifically with ice skating in mind, and ice is, well. Water that is below the freezing temperature. Both synthetic and natural ice have their pros and cons and deciding which one is better really depends on what your needs are.
For example, if you want the maximum glide factor, you’re gonna want to go with real ice. The reason for this is that natural ice melts a little bit from the friction of your skates. This provides a small layer of water that keeps you gliding along and skating to the best of your ability. There’s also a lot less resistance when you’re gliding on natural ice. If you’re seeking peak performance and nothing else matters, natural ice is going to be your best bet.
If you’re willing to take a hit on performance for convenience, synthetic ice is going to be your best bet. It’s not quite as good as regular ice, and it could take another ten years at least for it to get to that point, but it gets the job done and it doesn’t require a freezing room for it to be stored. It also takes a bit more effort to skate on synthetic ice than natural ice, but that could be exactly the edge that your training needs.
Really, if you’re hosting a big event, you might want to spring for real ice. It will make sure that all of your skaters can skate to the best of their ability, which will allow for much more interesting competitions. However, if you’re just looking to turn your basement into a skating rink, you’ll probably want to go with synthetic ice. The only real alternative is to flood your basement intentionally then keep it at freezing temperatures, and none of that is feasible for the most part.
Flooding your basement can damage a lot of the sensitive systems in your house, so that should be avoided at all costs. Synthetic ice allows for easy installation because it’s just like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, but it adds the ability to remove it whenever you like. In a home setting, synthetic ice also requires less upkeep.
Why Would Someone go Through the Trouble of Creating an Indoor Skating Rink at Their House?
If you stumbled onto this article by chance, there are good odds that you’re wondering why someone would go through all the trouble to create their own indoor skating rink in their house. After all, there are a lot of year-round skating rinks that allow anyone to practice as long as they have the money to enter. To many, creating a home skating rink may even sound a bit frivolous, especially with the existence of skating rink businesses.
There are many reasons why someone might find a home rink appealing. One of the biggest reasons is that it actually saves money in the long run. Let’s say that it costs $15 per person to go to the skating rink, but your indoor skating rink would cost roughly $3000. In just 200 uses it’s already paid for itself, assuming that you’re the only one that’s using it. If you let your friends and family use the rink you built as well it will pay for itself a lot faster.
Another big reason why people go through all the trouble is because of the hours of operation of skating rinks. If you’ve ever had trouble sleeping and wanted something to do to kill some time you probably already know all about how it feels when you can’t do the one thing you want to do. Having your own rink means that you can go skating whenever you want, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
That also means that if something big like a pandemic happens that forces all of the rinks to close, you’d still have a place to practice without having to worry too much about the availability of rinks. If someone is a competitive ice skater, they can’t really afford to go months or even years without practicing. They want to be sure that they stay in their tip-top shape when competitions resume.
Some people also enjoy the wow factor that it brings to their home. Many people visit and will be amazed at the skating rink that the person owns, and might even have some fun skating on it themselves. For those that want to impress their friends and loved ones, owning their own rink can easily accomplish that goal.
On top of everything else that we’ve already mentioned, it brings a sense of wonder into your home that is hard to capture otherwise. You might remember being a kid and how exciting it was to go to the ice rink and skate around with your parents. Owning an ice rink in your own basement, garage, backyard, or anywhere else you might want to put it allows you to capture that magic again, and carry it with you for as long as you live in that house.
Really, the only reasons why you might not want to get your own skating rink are that you don’t skate so it wouldn’t make sense, you can’t afford it, or you don’t have a space to put something like that. A good at-home skating rink is a great investment for just about anyone that enjoys ice skating.
Ice Skate at Your Leisure
Most people are looking for some level of control in their lives. We do, after all, live in a very chaotic world. When people want to practice their hobbies, whether they’re a musician, stamp collector, or ice skater, they want somewhere they can hone their craft in peace. Synthetic ice has made this a much easier task for ice skaters. You can make your very own synthetic ice skating rink just about anywhere in the world, then you can skate to your heart’s content practically any time you could want to.