According to the National Hockey League (NHL), "Ice is approximately 3/4 of an inch thick, and is usually chilled at 16 degrees Fahrenheit. The thicker the ice, the softer and slower it becomes." This is the equivalent of 1.9 cm thickness at a temperature of - 8.9 degrees Celsius. Whilst the ice may seem thin, it is strong enough to cope with the weight and speed of the players. It is likened to the thickness of plexiglass, which is thin but strong.

Beneath the ice is a concrete layer, which is heated to 32 F (0 C). This prevents the ground from expanding and cracking the ice on the surface. To create the ice, a refrigeration system pumps freezing salt water through pipes contained within the concrete. The salt in the water prevents it from turning to ice and bursting the pipes. When it is cold enough, water is gradually poured on top to form the thin layer of ice.

Depending on the size of the rink, it takes between 12,000 and 15,000 gallons (54,553 to 68,191 litres) of water to form a hockey rink surface. Public ice rinks tend to have thicker ice than hockey rinks to cope with the number of people using the rink at one time.

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