Synthetic Ice Vs. Real Ice – You Might Be Surprised

Synthetic Ice vs. Real Ice

Ice Skate Year-Round Outdoor or Indoor 

Do you ever wish you could play hockey year-round at home, indoors or out? Perhaps you want to work on your moves to prepare for the season. You’ve tried inline roller skates on asphalt or cement but you just don’t get that glide that ice offers. Or maybe you just want to enjoy some recreational ice skating or figure skating. Synthetic ice offers the solution.

What is Synthetic Ice?

Synthetic ice is a strong and stable polymer made of polyethylene plastic formed into panels, sheets, or tiles. On natural ice, the glide is created by the friction of the skate blade on the ice which heats the microscopic top layers of ice which then melt to reduce drag. On synthetic ice, a liquid enhancement may exist on the surface, however, most synthetic ice types do not need a surface enhancement to provide liquid. 

Reduction of Drag

Drag may be eliminated or greatly reduced by using a sinter-pressed material which leaves little shavings or abrasions compared to an extruded-pressed material. This is because a sinter-pressed material uses a higher molecular weight which gives a far better abrasion resistance and has a lower coefficient of friction at only 10-15 percent greater than real ice. This reduction of drag makes it hard to distinguish real ice from synthetic ice but for the palpable difference in temperature. For the same reason, synthetic ice is also softer than real ice which makes for a less jarring fall which may be particularly welcome by beginners. This also gives more resistance for skaters who want a workout they can’t equal on the easier glide of real ice. 

Durability and Maintenance

The tiles and sheets of synthetic ice are more durable the thicker and denser they are. With daily use, the best tiles last about ten years. Skating on the material will leave shavings which can be swept away. The material can be effectively cleaned with a carpet cleaning machine filled with water and bleach or by broom and mop with a bit more effort. 

Eco-friendly

Synthetic ice also does not require water or electricity like created real ice which requires constant machine and compressor use to keep cold.

Global Use

Synthetic ice enables hockey and figure skating, as well as recreational skating to be used around the world no matter what the climate is. Synthetic ice rinks have been built from Connecticut to Singapore and from Hobart Australia to St George’s Bermuda to Azerbaijan Baku and the United Arab Emirates.

Training

Synthetic ice along with other products focused on training hockey players and improving their game are available from such companies as Sniper’s Edge which specializes in training devices such as hockey passers, slick surface ice, shooting pads, hockey stick weights, stick handling trainers, and shooting tarps. Using training aids like these can help develop and improve hockey skills. Hockey is a very competitive game with many talented players. These training aids can really make a difference in improving skills.

Costs 

The cost to install a synthetic rink or smaller practice area depends on the brand and size and supplemental pieces. There are all sorts and sizes of at home rinks that can be easily installed using tiles or panels. The costs vary from $300-$3600 for home setups and much higher for larger rinks. Professional rinks can cost hundreds of thousands but that is much less than the cost of and maintenance of a real ice rink.

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