There have been some remarkable advancements in technology over the years. Everything from being able to order a pizza to your front door without ever speaking to another human being to humans going to space. Somewhere in between those two incredible things lies the invention of synthetic ice, or as some people might call it, artificial ice. There’s a lot to know about this subject, and even if you own some artificial ice there’s a good chance that you still have a lot to learn about it.
The chemistry and history of artificial ice is just as complex as it is diverse. You could easily spend hours and hours pouring over the specific information available on the subject and still be missing out on some details, it’s really that expansive. If you already own some artificial ice and want to know more about it, or you’re just doing your due diligence before you make your purchase, you’re in the right place. Today we’re going to go over seven of what we consider to be the most interesting facts about artificial ice so you can feel more confident about your knowledge on the subject.
1. Artificial Ice Originated in England
When it comes to unlikely origin stories, artificial ice takes the cake. The first known use of artificial ice was actually in England in the late 1800s. Two men created the ice in hopes of it granting them weather beyond their wildest dreams, and they used chemicals to make it. In fact, this first version of artificial ice was the direct inspiration for the type of artificial ice that we use today. It’s kind of incredible if you think about how far we’ve come with this incredible substance, and it will be interesting to see where we go in the future with it.
The two men, if you were curious, did find a little success but not as much as they had hoped for. They had a total of three rinks over the course of the year, two of them were open to the public. Unfortunately, their dream of having a skating rink that was open year-round was short-lived. For about one summer they were able to get a rink up and running in a populated market area, but the public’s interest in being able to ice skate in the summer dwindled after a short amount of time. The public can be fickle at times and considering they had done this before the advent of hockey it only makes sense that they only had limited success. Truly men that were thinking ahead of their times.
2. You Can Use Your Ice Skates on Artificial Ice
There are a lot of positives to using artificial ice, and there are fewer benefits than being able to actually skate on the ice even if there’s sweltering heat outside. Many people wouldn’t see the point of something being called artificial ice if you couldn’t use your actual ice skates on it, so it’s a good thing that it is the case. That means that once you own some artificial ice, you could realistically go skating whenever you want to. It doesn’t matter if it’s day, night, raining, or sunny. With that kind of flexibility, it’s no wonder that so many people enjoy this substance.
Artificial ice also gets grooves in it from skating on it, which might sound like a bad thing to many people, but it actually enhances the experience over time. It helps you feel a similar feeling to ice that’s already been skated on, which makes for better practice. After all, ice doesn’t stay pristine for long once the ice skaters or hockey players get on it. You might experience a bit more drag on artificial ice than you would on true ice, but that just helps you by giving you a little bit extra resistance training, which could end up helping you out more than you realize.
3. Artificial Ice is Highly Portable
If you already own some artificial ice you may already be aware of this, but if you’re still in the research phase it may catch you a bit off guard. Artificial ice is actually very portable, to the point that you could even break it down and move it to a friend’s house if you want to practice together. Of course, most people would prefer if their friends came to their house to save them the effort, but it’s still entirely possible to do should the need arise. There are some cases where it could be easier for everyone if you put in the effort to get it to your friend’s house for some training.
The reason it’s so portable is that it’s made up of tiles that interlock together. To assemble the artificial ice rink, you just need to line up the tiles and lock them together. To disassemble them, you just need to take them apart. Most people find it to be the most convenient if they stack them, but depending on the size of your rink you might come up with a better solution. Regardless of how you find to be the best way to go about this, it’s still relatively easy to move your rink around, and definitely a lot easier than trying to move a rink made up of true ice.
4. Even the Pros Use It
Everyone needs to get some practice in, no matter their skill level. That can be hard with the changing seasons and a lack of natural ice forming, as well as the challenges that practicing at a normal ice skating rink brings up. That’s exactly why you can even find some pros that use artificial ice in their own homes so they don’t have to worry about any of that kind of stuff. It’s even easier for the pros than for us normal folk to set this up because, well, professional hockey players are usually compensated well for their skills and can afford rather large houses.
5. Artificial Ice Isn’t Made of Water
It may come as a shock to you, especially if you thought that artificial ice is made out of water that is chemically frozen, that artificial ice isn’t made out of water. Of course, some people do use the term artificial ice to refer to water that was frozen with chemicals, but that’s not a hard and fast rule for use of this word. In reality, artificial ice is typically made up of special kinds of plastic. The plastics that are used for this are incredibly complicated on a molecular level, usually either high-density polyethylene or ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene.
These materials are used because they provide the closest glide factor to real ice, meaning that you can expect a much better skating experience by using them rather than other materials. The materials that have been used over the years have been changed to ensure that skaters can always have the best possible experience while skating on artificial ice.
6. You Can Leave Your Artificial Ice Out in Most Weather Conditions
For those of you that are planning on just getting artificial ice and putting it in your backyard while taking it down for bad weather, we have good news. Most artificial ice manufacturers make sure that their products are made to be weather resistant to most of the elements. That means that you could reasonably leave them out in your backyard year-round without having to worry too much about them getting messed up in the elements. Many people the world over enjoy this feature because most places have at least one season out of the year that is especially harsh. Whether that’s Arizona with its blistering summers or Alaska with its months of snowy night.
7. Artificial Ice Wears Down Your Blades
We can’t talk about artificial ice without mentioning this fact. On average, artificial ice users notice that their blades are worn down about twice as quickly on artificial ice than if they were skating on real ice. It’s an important fact to note and could end up swaying your choice if you don’t like sharpening blades or you don’t want to spend that much time taking your ice skates to the blade sharpener. With all of the perks that come with using artificial ice, this seems like a fair trade-off, but many other people may not feel the same way.
Learning More About the Tools of the Trade
There are a lot of things that go along with hockey. Basic things such as pucks, sticks, and protective gear as well as more advanced things like training pucks and synthetic ice. No matter how familiar you are with the sport, your skill level, or even how often you play you deserve to have as much information as possible on the subject. That will allow you to make better choices about the direction that your training takes you, as well as provide you with some much-needed tools for the future.