Natural ice makes way for artificial ice at skating rinks


Skating on artificial ice is the best choice both from an economic and ecological perspective. This translates into the growing number of skating rinks of this type that emerge over the Christmas period in Belgium.

When we think of Christmas and the New Year, we traditionally think of groups of people with rosy cheeks huddling together in the cold, cheering skaters on a mirror-smooth ice rink. Various stalls and a winter bar for the obligatory doughnuts, bratwurst, hot chocolate and mulled wine are within easy reach.

But with our milder winters, the option to use natural ice is becoming increasingly rare. Fortunately, artificial ice provides a solution, whether outdoors or in an indoor space. Skating can then continue, even at temperatures above 0°C. Technically, it boils down to the following. A cooling floor consisting of interconnected tubes is laid on a flat, hard surface. The closed network is then filled with a mixture of water and antifreeze at about -10°C. Finally, a hose sprays water onto the cooling floor, which immediately crystallises, until eventually there is a 7 cm layer of ice on top.

Sustainability and ease of maintenance are the two main strengths of this synthetic attraction. Opinions differ on the gliding characteristics compared to natural ice and the effort you have to make to move forward as smoothly. But one thing is certain: fake ice does not dampen the winter fun. At least, that's what the growing number of artificial ice rinks here and around the country seem to indicate.