Making the Ice

Making Natural Ice

  • Several days (1 week +) of ambient temperature below - 10 Celsius are required to develop the needed strong and thick base layer of ice.
  • The colder the weather, the more water that can be put down – as each layer needs to freeze before adding the next.
  • Multiple layers (1/16”) are applied to ensure the water freezes thoroughly.
  • A minimum of 5” - 8" of ice creates the base layer.
  • Without a built-in chiller unit, the NBRA must rely on direct air contact to cause the freezing of applied water. A chiller unit freezes water from the ground up, whereas natural ice freezes from the top downward.
  • Once a thick base layer is established the Zamboni can then be used to flood the ice, which enables flooding with hot water to improve the quality of the ice.
  • Temperature and sunlight are two of the most important factors in controlling the ice making process.

Maintaining Natural Ice

  • The east-west position of the NBRA hockey and pleasure skating rinks severely affects NBRA ice conditions, because of the reflection off the south facing boards.
  • The reflection causes the ice to melt much faster than the rest of the rink, especially in the corners. To the eye, it may appear that 90% of the ice looks useable, however; the melting that occurs in the north corners becomes a major safety concern.
  • With the safety of patrons top of mind, the NBRA rinks will be closed for operations when unsafe skating conditions exist.
  • Once a substantial amount of ice has been lost, the weather forecast is monitored regularly to determine when the ice can be reopened. Depending on how much ice is lost, several days of -10C or colder weather (day and night) is needed to rebuild the ice to skateable conditions.

Season Closure

  • The duration of the NBRA ice rinks being open is directly affected by both current and future weather conditions. Each year, the NBRA team carefully reviews the quality of the ice in relation to upcoming weather conditions.
  • If warm temperatures are predicted for an entire week after the NBRA has lost over 50% of the rink ice, it is unlikely that the rinks will be reopened for the season.

For any other questions or concerns regarding the making/maintaining of the NBRA ice rinks, please contact the General Manager at or 403.781.6608.