Frequently Asked Questions

Featured Question: Where does the air go?

The REALice system is powered by water pressure only and spins the water like a tornado to remove the air bubbles. It uses pressure instead of heat to remove the air from the water.

The un-dissolved micro air bubbles in the water are pulled into the extreme low-pressure zone that is created by the forces inside the REALice system.

This low pressure causes the air bubbles to expand, gather into larger air bubbles and escape into the atmosphere through the resurfacing machine’s fill hole because air is lighter than water.

Find out more about the REALice technology

How is the quality of the ice?

Laying the ice using REALice® treated water gives you an optimal foundation for high-quality ice. REALice® treated water produces ice which is hard and more resilient than traditional ice. As micro-bubbles, that normally are in the water have been removed, the ice obtains greater clarity so that advertising and lines become more clearly visible through it.

Watch these operators talk about their ice with REALice

 

How does REALice® work?

REALice® removes micro-bubbles from water that’s used when laying and resurfacing the ice. The ice-sheet can be resurfaced with REALice® ambient temperature water, which eliminates the need to burn natural gas to heat the water. By removing micro-bubbles, the ice sheet becomes a more compact sheet of ice. Learn more about the REALice® technology

What are the benefits of using REALice®
  1. Reduced energy usage (natural gas) from not heating up the water
  2. Save CO2 emissions, due to less usage of kW and gas
  3. Decreased energy usage (kW), due to raising the brine temp (ice sheet is more compact)
  4. Less usage of the compressor(s), due to raising the brine temp
  5. Reduction of usage of de-humidifier, due to less evaporation by using cold water
How much energy, GHG emissions and money can I save with REALice®

The average savings per ice sheet (160 gallons/ resurfacing, 10/d, 48 weeks/y) are:

  • Natural Gas: 400 GJ – 600 GJ
  • Electricity: 50,000 kWh and up
  • Emissions: 20 -50t of CO2 and up (depending on the source of electricity)

The amount of money you can save with REALice® depends on the rink size and price for gas & electricity. Our references have shown that they save anywhere between $ 1,000.-  to $ 1,200.- per month on a single pad. This results in annual savings between $ 12,000.-  to $ 14,400.-

What is the return on investment (ROI) on REALice®

The return on investment is between 2-3 years.

This depends on the size of the arena, the amount of water, resurfaces of the ice per day, the temperature of the water applied, and the current ice thickness.

With additional support from local utilities or if applied in a twin pad rink, the return on investment can be less than one year. See here for funding sources

Is there funding for REALICE® IN CANADA?

Yes, there is funding available for REALice across Canada. Find out more about funding sources here.

Does the system require any maintenance?

REALice® is 100% maintenance free, no additional energy sources systems needed

What is the warranty on the system and expected life?

The manufacturer’s (Watreco in Sweden) warranty is 5 years, the expected life is 25 years plus.

 

Who is using REALice®

REALice® is in use in over 600 ice arenas worldwide:

Among these are arenas are:

See more famous arenas

As of summer 2020 – The City of Calgary equipped all of its City-owned and operated facilities.


Here is a map of installations across North America

How is REALice® installed?

Installation is simple and takes between 1-2 hours (certified plumber):

 

  • The system is installed downstream of the final cold and hot water mixing line after any others systems (filtration, water softener or RO)
  • Coldwater can be used, however, it’s recommended to install on a mixing valve
  • It’s very important that 100% of the resurfacing water is treated by REALice.

 

REALice is installed next to the ice resurfacers’ water filling station. The hose for the ice resurfacer is connected directly to the REALice system.

 

We recommend installing a mixing valve (or ball valves) and a backflow preventer so all water used in the Zamboni room is treated through the REALice wall unit. The mixing valve helps to add a little bit of warmer water (max. 68°F).

 

This will be needed, if the arena isn’t well insulated and there is a possibility of the ice freezing from the top down when it’s extremely cold outside. A bit warmer water might also be needed during the transition to REALice (when applied to an existing sheet of ice) or when larger gouges from heavy user groups on the ice are observed. As the ice settles the gouges will get smaller over time.

 

We know there is usually a need for warmer water for general maintenance purposes and adding a mixing valve ensures that no non-treated water makes its way onto the ice.

 

More information on the installation

 

 

Watch Scott Fusco talk about his experience installing and getting started with REALice

How do I make ice with REALice and can I apply REALice® on existing ice?

Yes, you can. Start by planing down the ice approximately  0.59″ – 0.79″ (15-20mm), or to the point where any advertisement and other graphics show.

Afterward, start to rebuild the ice with REALice® treated cold water only.  It is important to apply the new ice in thin layers that gets time to freeze in between refurbishing the ice. It is sufficient enough to add 0.59″ (15mm) of the new ice since it will be considerably stronger than the old one. Important: raise the ice temperature gradually and overtime!

Learn more about making ice with REALice or download our training notes

What are Best Practices when using the REALice® Technology
  • Always ensure that Blade is good & sharp
  • Shave the Ice with each Flood in addition to collecting snow
  • If needed, add Tempered Water (max 68°F) to Resurfacing Water
  • Use Tempered Water for the Wash Water
  • Take the Time to do the Ice & drive the Ice Resurfacer slowly:
  • NHL size: 8-10min, Olympic size: 10-12min
  • Use Hand-Held Device to build Ice, perform maintenance & repairs
  • REALice® Water and Normal Water cannot be mixed. Do not Bypass the System!

Do you offer any support with installing and using REALice®?

Yes, we offer support for any arena installing and using REALice®:

    • A comprehensive manual, guide, and tips
    • Connecting ice makers with ice makers already using REALice®
    • Phone support from Canada and from the manufacturer in Sweden
    • Site visits as needed

 

IS REALICE® SAFE TO USE?

Yes, REALice® is safe. The technology has been tested in ISO 17025 accredited labs for pressure (up to 98.1bar), temperature (up to 284ºF/ 120°C) &  food safety.

WHO CAN I CONTACT ABOUT REALICE® IN CANADA?

You can contact SWICH SERVICES Inc. at info@realice.ca or toll-free at 1 888.542.92.92.

SWICH SERVICES is the technology transfer partner for REALice® for Canada and based in Vancouver BC. Contact us

Questions Around Ice Maintenance
GETTING STARTED WITH REALICE®, WHAT DO I DO IF NOW THE COLD WATER FREEZES TOO FAST AND THE ICE GETS BRITTLE?

Starting with REALice® you have to adjust your brine temperature up (warmer) right away. As you lower the temperature of the resurfacing water you go up (warmer) with the brine temperature. Observe the snow produced on the ice. Best ice produces powdery snow. Start using the wash water with every ice clean. The wash water will fill the gouges. Operators using REALice end up resetting their brine temperature 3-5°F warmer.

We use a... (paint skid, spray boom or elevated spray boom) to build our ice – can we continue to use that to make ice?

Yes, just ensure ALL water is treated through the REALice system. However, we strongly recommend that you make/rebuild ice using the REALice handheld with the misting adaptor – you will be surprised at how quickly you are able to build your surface up. 

How do I mix the paint with REALice?

If using ice paint, mix the ice paint using REALice- treated water at full water pressure through either the wall unit or the handheld device. Apply as per the manufacturer’s directions.

How quickly will we be able to get the ice resurfacer on the new ice?

That’s up to you as to when you begin flooding using the resurfacing machine, but since the REALice system delivers stronger ice, you will be able to use your ice resurfacing machine to build up ice faster than what you did in the past. You will not, in most cases, get spider cracks from the weight of the machine once you put it on. Important Note: If the ice resurfacer has studded tires, make sure the studs are shorter than the depth of the ice you have before you put it on the ice. 

How warm should the water be and IS IT POSSIBLE TO USE COLD WATER TO FLOOD THE ICE?

With the REALice® technology cold water can be used to flood and resurface the ice. Depending on the conditions some ambient temperature water needs to be mixed in. This could be after heavy user groups or if the temperature inside the facility drops significantly and there is a chance that the water would freeze from the top. The temperature of the water although should never exceed 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius).

HOW CAN I MELT ALL THE SNOW LEFT IN THE GOUGES AFTER HEAVY USER GROUPS HAVE BEEN ON THE ICE?

In that case, the wash water cannot get all the snow out of the gauges, therefore when you have a heavy user group on the ice add a little warm water into the wash water max 68°F (18-20°C). Important: Use all water through the REALice® system.

If your ice resurfacing machine doesn’t have wash water capabilities, then add a little bit of warm water, max 68°F (18-20°C) – to your resurfacing water, when dealing with heavy user groups.

WHY IS THERE SNOW BUILD UP ON THE ICE?

Snow build up on an ice sheet is created if the temperature is either too high (creates more snow, slash/wet snow), too low (creates more snow, chippy/dry snow) or the humidity in the rink is not correct. Ideal humidity in the rink lies at 53% – 57%.

To find the optimal temperature you can perform the snowball test.

CAN LACK OF WASH WATER RESULT IN MORE SNOW ON THE ICE?

NO, what happens is, when you drive too fast with the machine, the snow in the gauges will jump up and give a rough surface. If the driver follows standard instructions for how long they need to resurface the ice, (NHL size 8-10 min) there will be no problem. REALice® creates fewer gouges and even without wash water, there will be no problem getting a great sheet of ice.

WHAT IS THE WASH WATER USED FOR AND DOES EVERY ICE MACHINE HAVE WASH WATER?
  • Older machines, no wash water installed
  • Yes can be mounted after, sled needed to be changed and tank need to be mounted
  • Wash water tank, +/- 100L
  • Purpose of wash water, to clean gauges
  • As REALice® creates fewer gauges, less wash water will be needed
  • We recommend using wash water
  • Wash water needs to have some temperature, approx. 20 degrees Celsius
HOW MUCH TIME SHOULD I ALLOW TO RESURFACE THE ICE?

To resurface the ice, allow at least 8 minutes and 3-5 minutes to let the ice dry. Drive the ice resurfacer machine slowly, especially in the corners.

Read more about our best practices for making ice.

THE ICE LOOKS WAVY - WHAT COULD BE THE CAUSE?

If your ice looks wavy your blade might not be sharp enough. Another reason could be that your ice is too hard. This means it’s running too cold and needs to be set warmer.

IS THERE AN EXTRA BENEFIT IF SOFTENED WATER IS USED THROUGH THE REALICE SYSTEM?

The better the incoming water is, the better the ice REALice will provide. If the water softener is there to avoid scaling only, REALice can replace it as REALice will crystallize the lime particles and they will no longer cling to each other – or to metal surfaces (and clog up the nozzles on your ice resurfacing machines).

CAN REGULAR WATER BE MIXED WITH REALICE® TREATED WATER?

No. Regular water cannot be mixed with REALice® treated water even as little as washing the ice rag. Mixing the water would immediately aerate the treated water again. Once on REALice® water, it has to be exclusive.

Does REALice work together with Reverse Osmosis or other filter system?

REALice works on its own or in conjunction with a reverse osmosis system or other filter system.

More Frequently Asked Questions
DOES REALICE® HELP TO REDUCE LIME SCALING and with hard water issues?

In untreated water, limescale appears in the form of calcite, which has an angular shape on the limescale crystal. This means that it easily attaches to other limescale crystals, pipes and nozzles, forming limescale deposits.

These limescale deposits obstruct the water supply and routinely have to be removed. In water treated using the REALice® System, calcite is transformed into aragonite, which has a more rounded shape and consequently does not attach itself to other limescale crystals, pipes or nozzles. Learn more about the effects on hard water.

 

“In Williams Lake we have very hard and mineralized water and we have found that the ice is as good as before the Real Ice installation if not better. We have also noticed our ice stays much clearer than before. We flood with 57-60 degree F water and have not had any problems at all since the system was installed. The cost savings on our utilities is also quite noticeably better and this is a big positive when you deal with your politicians or directors.” Garry Breck, Facility Maintenance Manager, Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex.

 

 

WHAT IS A MECHANICAL RINK DE-AERATOR or Air Separator?

Adding mechanical rink de-aerator or air separator to a hot water system helps remove micro air bubbles and increase heat transfer. In a pilot program by FortisBC testing the REALice technology, indoor ice rinks could use lower water temperatures for ice resurfacing, saving energy and creating a harder, smoother ice surface that requires less maintenance.

ARE THERE independent STUDIES CONDUCTED ON REALICE® IN NORTH AMERICA?

Various independent 3rd parties have evaluated the REALice technology:

The Polymer Technology Group Eindhoven BV (PTG/e) of the University of Eindhoven, measured the decrease in viscosity due to the removal of microbubbles between 3 and 17 percent, depending on water quality and temperature.


Southern California Edison
performed a test using a Schmidt Hammer to show an improvement in hardness by over 40%. Håkan Grönlund referred to this test during the presentation that REALice treated cold water (max 60°F) is about 40% harder than the ice made with traditional methods.  ICE RINK WATER TREATMENT SYSTEM ASSESSMENT


Lulea University in Sweden
performed an ice crystal comparison showing that the REALice treated crystal are formed stronger


FortisBC
ran a large scale pilot in 2013 evaluating 10 arenas across British Columbia, showing an average of natural gas reduction of 330 GJ.

Summary: 

  • 90% of the pilot participants successfully adapted their operations to REALice® technology.
  • The achieved ice quality was evaluated from acceptable to excellent.
  • Fortis quantified the average savings across the participating pilot arenas at 330 GJ in Natural Gas per year
  • Across the pilot arenas, an increase of the slab temperature was required at all sites and an average increase of  3°F was observed. A reduction in the ice slab thickness on average by 0.25 – 0.5 inch was noted also.
  • Electricity savings through increasing the slab temperature (approx. 20,000 kWh per 1.8°F) and reduction of the ice thickness (according to SaskPower and Manitoba Hydro) are significant and can be added on top of the calculated electricity savings from the Fortis report. Please refer to Ice Rink Resurfacing Efficiency Pilot – Summary of Study Results.pdf to see internal results and estimates from some of the arenas also.

 

In addition, 15+ electric utilities across North America have vetted the system for multiple sites for energy incentives.

WHAT IS THE FORTISBC DE-AERATOR PILOT PROGRAM?

FortisBC completed a pilot project investigating into vortex mechanical de-aerator technology during 2014 ice season. 10 arenas in British Columbia were chosen to evaluate REALice® in their arenas.

See Study Results from the FortisBC pilot program

What are WAYS TO MEASURE / CALCULATE SAVINGS WITH REALICE®
  • Comparing current to previous utility bills (monitoring kWH, GJ/therm / m3 of natural gas usage/oil usage)
  • Monitoring compressor loads and running time and comparing with previous logs
  • Install separate sub-meters on compressors and logging the run time and kWh usage, i.e with Eyedro Business Electricity Monitors (http://eyedro.com)
  • Calculate savings by entering the temperature difference for resurfacing water & increase in brine temperature: www.realice.ca/calculate
WHAT ARE QUALITIES OF REALICE® TREATED WATER?

Besides removing the micro air bubbles from the water, the vortex generator has a big influence on other aspects of the water, such as increased heat transfer capacity, lowered viscosity, increase in electrical conductivity.

What is the reduction in pressure due to the equipment?

The pressure reduction in the water fill line through the vortex process is 7 PSI.  

How is the fill time of the ice resurfacer impacted?

The fill time of the ice resurfacer will be increased by 10% – 15%. This is due to the pressure reduction in the water fill line through the vortex process. The reduction is 7 PSI. 

WILL REALICE® HELP TO INCREASE THE LIFE SPAN OF THE COMPRESSORS

Yes. Due to the reduced compressor loads by using REALice® the service life of the compressors can increase by about 10 % or 2.5 years.

DOES REALICE® AFFECT WORKPLACE SAFETY?

Yes, using cold water to flood the ice eliminates the need to operate with hot water 60ºC/140ºF to 71ºC/160ºF takes away the risk of burn injuries for anyone involved in the ice-making process.

Why are some rink operators reluctant to making the switch to REALice?

The REALice technology brings a paradigm shift, removing extremely hot water from traditional ice making. Change can be hard, especially when operators have been trained to use hot water for decades. Many operators also have tried cold water to resurface the ice with bad results to ice quality, due to the number of air bubbles in the ice. REALice simulates hot water by mechanically removing the micro air bubbles through pressure instead of heat. Seeing is believing and operators starting to use the REALice system soon witness the results and do not look back on their old practices See our success stories.

 

We require our best practices to be followed, but they are reminders of best practices for any ice maker. There are no major operational changes except for the higher brine temperature reset.

 

“REALice works and making great ice comes from good ice maintenance. There’s nothing else out there that we could put in so easily and save the money we’re saving.” Fred Kilner, Fuller Lake Arena, Chemainus, BC.

CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE INITIAL COST OF THE REALICE® SYSTEM?

The REALice® system is a complete solution, developed, applied and tested to the highest standards of engineering, executed (3D printing) and quality controlled in Sweden. The system is priced on an ROI of  2 – 3 years on a single sheet of ice (depending on the arena and prices paid for gas and electricity) and enables you to fundamentally change the operation of your arena by using cold instead of hot water to resurface the ice. Besides creating excellent ice, saving energy and costs these are the additional benefits:

  • less humidity in the arena – less draw on de-humidifiers,
  • less draw on compressors and therefore extended life,
  • reduced load on hot water boilers,
  • reduced limescale build-up,
  • less ice cleans and less water used
IS REALICE® HARDER, STRONGER AND MORE RESILIENT THAN TRADITIONALLY MADE ICE?

Yes, it is. Studies have shown that the overall uniformity of ice strength is much better after the installation of the REALice® system. This means that the ice was more consistent in hardness across the entire rink.

WHO IS A PARTNER OF THE REALICE® TECHNOLOGY?
  • International Ice Hockey Federation
  • Swedish Hockey Federation
  • Finish Hockey Federation
REALice vs. Hot Water