How Do Warmer Locations Keep Ice Skating Rinks Cold?

Written By: Riedell | October 15, 2021

Each year as winter approaches, outdoor activity and skating enthusiasts alike lace-up with ice skates and head to the outdoor rinks. Ice skating is a well-loved winter activity for many people around the globe – even in the warmer countries. However, when we think of ice skating locations, our minds likely gravitate toward colder weather climates rather than places like Florida or California. But despite being warmer than northern regions, warmer weather locations are also able to have outdoor ice skating rinks during the winter months. How exactly? Let’s take a look!

Keeping Outdoor Rinks Cold

In many warmer countries, winter temperature averages can be as high as 70 degrees Fahrenheit – a far cry from Minnesota’s 25 degrees average. This might seem like too high of a temperature to prevent ice from melting, so how do they do it? It all boils down to three main factors: humidity, wind, and heat. 

Heat, surprisingly, isn’t the biggest challenge of the three. Humidity is, in fact, the biggest challenge when it comes to maintaining ice in warmer temperatures. Humidity results in dew atop ice when a rink isn’t being used overnight. Small amounts can create frost, but in areas with even higher humidity, a layer of water can form on the ice. Pushing the pool of water off the ice requires a lot of manual work, but it is important because the more water sitting on the ice, the harder it is for the liquid to solidify. 

How do places like Florida and California create ice skating rinks, to begin with? Well, they use a substance called propylene glycol. Glycol runs through pipes pumping coolness throughout a system underneath the ice. It takes about three days to create the ice itself. Most outdoor rinks will use a chiller set at minus five degrees, which is essentially a large refrigerator, running 24 hours a day to keep the ice frozen. 

Does Ice Temperature Impact Skating?

Now, let’s get to everyone’s burning question: Can the temperature of the ice impact skating? The short answer is yes, it can! The temperature of the ice can have an effect on your overall skating experience. Many rinks try to keep the temperature of the ice around 24 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit, however, in the warmer climate outdoor rinks it can vary significantly and, depending on what a rink it mainly used for, the temperature might change.  

For example, figure skating is best done on ice that is around 24 to 29 degrees compared to hockey, which is ideal around 17 to 23 degrees. This is considered “soft” ice, which is preferred for figure skating because it allows softer landings, better grip for jump take-offs and overall softer and smoother glide. Because of this, sharpening a slightly larger radius onto the blade will help reduce friction and increase speed on “softer” ice. Also, all the major competition events held by the ISU such as the World Championships, European Championships and Winter Olympics have specific regulations concerning the ice temperature, so that the ice surface feels similar for top skaters in every event.

Skate Outdoors in Comfort with Riedell Ice Skates

With winter just hiding around the corner, outdoor ice skating rinks will soon be booming with skaters. Are you an avid wintertime skater? Avoid needing to rent your skates this year and opt for high-quality and comfort with figure skates from Riedell! With our vast collection of skating boots and blades, you’ll be able to find the perfect pair for your skill level, keeping you on the ice longer with increased comfort. 

We also offer customized figure skates for even more comfort. Our master craftsmen can customize your boots to fit your exact specifications and features. We are able to make allowances in boots for prescription orthotics, high or low arches, toe room, heel spurs, foot irregularities, bunions, and more. We offer customization of color, leather temper, firmness, heel height and so much more. With a customized boot you’ll be able to show off on the ice with increased comfort. 

Whether you’re in need of customized boots or you’re just starting out, skaters of all levels trust Riedell skates – contact us or head to one of our authorized dealers today!