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How Ice Rinks Work


Painting the Ice
The Hurricanes are one of only a few NHL teams with a paint truck.
The Hurricanes are one of only a few NHL teams with a paint truck.

The Hurricanes use Jet Ice water-based paint for the ice surface, lines, and logos. The white paint used for the ice surface comes in 40-pound bags of powder that have to be mixed with water. The blue, black, red and yellow paints used for the lines and logos come in pre-mixed containers.

The Jet Ice paint truck that spreads the water-based paint is the same one that spreads the thin layers of water that make up the skating surface. "Not many teams have these paint trucks," says MacMillan. "It certainly makes the job easier." The paint truck resembles the first-aid carts that many major league football and baseball teams use, with the driver's seat in front of a flat bed. The flat bed carries a 300-gallon tank that can be filled with either water-based paint or water. The tank is hooked up to pump that drive the liquid out and through the pipes to the sprayers.

Sprayers ensure even coats.
Sprayers ensure even coats.

At the back of the machine, you'll find a piece of detachable, hollow copper pipe, shaped into a long, rounded rectangle. Along the bottom side of the copper pipe, you'll find the sprayers -- plastic, removable nozzles attached to the hollow copper wand. The pipe fills with paint (or water) and allows each sprayer to spread a fine mist so that the paint (or water) will set-up quicker.

"After the first layer of ice is put on, we paint the entire rink white, using 300 gallons (about 1,100 liters) of water-based white paint, then another layer of ice," says MacMillan. The lines are painted by hand, and we use stencils for the Hardee's star and the Hurricanes logos. Then we put a third layer on to seal the paint, and then the rest of the ice surface is spread."