How Thick Is The Ice Of A Hockey Rink?

How Thick Is The Ice Of A Hockey Rink

Unlike sports that play on grass or turf, ice hockey and various other winter sports are played on ice. As with any sport, everything becomes standardized, especially at the most professional levels. Listed below are the standard thickness, markings, and general maintenance of hockey rink ice.


Ice Thickness and Markings

ice hockey rink

Despite the incredible amount of player weight a hockey rink can bear, the ice is on average anywhere from ¾ of an inch to one and a half inches thick. That is about the same or smaller than the hockey puck used during standard play. The thinner the ice, the faster players can skate, and the quicker the ice will freeze. Keeping the rink at around 16 degrees Fahrenheit keeps the rinks from becoming either too thick or thin. If the ice becomes too thick, it will be too soft and slow for maximum playability in a game as fast-paced as hockey.

In order to maintain standard gameplay of what is out of bounds, where the goals are set up, where players start, etc., colored markings are painted onto the ice. After a concrete floor with embedded frozen pipes is covered with a half-inch thick sheet of ice, these lines, circles, and creases are painted on top. Afterward, an additional coating of ice is applied to secure each marking and build up the ice to whatever thickness is prescribed.

NHL Standards

According to NHL standards, all ice used to play a professional game during a regular season must be approximately ¾ of an inch thick and be chilled at 16 degrees Fahrenheit. If the ice is thicker or thinner, gameplay will be affected and could result in a postponement or cancellation of any planned game. All rinks used by NHL franchises must adhere to these rules on thickness, temperature, and marking sizes just as they do with all other equipment and puck size so that play can be equally standardized.

Rink Maintenance

As implied earlier, hockey rinks are made by layering the ice. A first extremely thin layer of about half an inch is sprayed onto the cold concrete by certified rink staff. Once that layer is frozen, increasing minuscule layers at a fraction of an inch are sprayed on top of the previously frozen layers. It is also common practice that one of these layers, usually the second, is painted white so that both fans and players can most easily discern where the puck in play is at all times. After that white layer, the other markings are applied according to regional standards. This process generally takes over 10,000 gallons of water to create a standard NHL-sized rink to be played upon.

Though many rinks, such as those used by NHL franchises, are only used for hockey, others must change their design and thickness so that other sports or mass events can occur. In these instances, the ice can be melted, removed, and recreated in an often 48-hour process for optimal results. If this is not possible, such as for public events or basketball games, most arenas have a special flooring laid on top of the ice so that the ice goes undisturbed.