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Making A Rink On A Lake
By Jeffrey Edwards
Every year for our New Years Eve bash, I take the daddy role and build an outdoor rink on the Clear Lake at my buddies place north of Huntsville Ontario. Every year the same thing happens, warm weather till about a week before Christmas, then bitterly cold weather and up here lots of snow. Ice-up happens quick and with the snow, I have to clear the ice fast to avoid slush. I haven't seen much info on doing rinks on actual lake ice, but I've learned a few things in the last few years. If anyone can help me in this regard, maybe some old fashioned advice, I would appreicate it. So here is what I've learned:

1. Lake ice is level. Thats the good news.

2. Lake ice is subject to slush, differential freezing and whacks of other influences you haven't thought of. 

3.If you have slush, watch out.

4. If you have lots of slush, give up at least till later.

5. If after clearing snow off the ice everything is pretty much smooth, you're in luck, follow these steps:

  • clean every last smidge of snow off the ice before flooding (shovels then push brooms)
  • using a small amount of water, flood your edges
  • whether you have a pump or use a bucket, add light water application, when air temp is cold, and little wind (blowing snow is bad)
  • hope that after two or three floodings you have a good patch of ice.
  • enjoy and don't whine about the cold or occaisional bumps
  • large bumps or high spots can be taken out with a hatchet then lightly flooded.
6. With lake ice you cannot build up the surface too much. I found with a commercial pump even in a cold climate that I never could build up low spots, because I think of water bleeding out the sides of the rink. Start with a smooth surface and you should be okay.

7.My buddy tells me that ponds, because they are not as subject to wind and the big changes that lakes go through are better for rinks. Cosier too.

8. Water is a problem because out on a lake or river you are usually far from a tap and hose. I prefer the laborious bucket brigade so far. I found a gasoline pump generated too much pressure and water to work well. 

Thats about it, best of luck all you dedicated hosers out there - remember to actually strap your skates on and keep yer stick on the ice eh?

Email Jeffrey with your "Lake" tips or comments.