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Warm-weather 'ice' rink

Big ball o' wax
  [vote for,

I wonder if there is any type of wax which would make a good surface to skate on? I know ice skating works by the pressure of the skates slightly melting the ice - would there be enough pressure to do the same to wax? If not, then place inductive heating coils[1] under the surface and heat up any metal within an inch of the wax, so that you are always skating on hot blades :-) (patrons would have to remove any other metal that might come in range of the heaters, such as wedding rings if they fell on the 'ice' and held their hand there for some time; and be careful taking their skates off!)

At the end of the day a conventional heater (or even perhaps a flame-thrower?) would melt the wax, and the surface would be melted and re-formed smooth just as with ice; we could even keep the Zamboni.

Paraffin wax looks like ice; and it scrapes and cuts like ice, which should allow you to corner and perhaps even figure skate.

I tried a small experiment standing with one foot on a tray filled with kitchen-grade paraffin wax - which was mildly encouraging - but I didn't have the guts to buy half a ton of the stuff and pour it over the garage floor :-) Anyone crazier and richer than me is welcome to try this.

One thing that that may scupper this as a commercial proposition is whether paraffin wax on that scale would be considered a fire risk and not be permitted in a public arena. Anyone know if there is such a thing as non-inflammable wax? We wouldn't want people falling on the wax and turning into human candles.

Graham. [1: these had a very short vogue in electric cookers about 20 years ago then disappeared because too many people burned their fingers when wearing rings. It seems that however they are coming back into fashion. Was the burn problem licked or has everyone just forgotten about it?]

gtoal, Jan 10 2006

Viking Ice synthetic skating surfaces http://www.vikingice.com/default.asp
One of a few I found. This surface uses a plastic called "polymer ethylene." [bristolz, Jan 11 2006]

Ice = vibrating molecules? http://www.explorat...ockey/skating1.html
[hippo, Jan 11 2006]

Hot ice http://www.newscien...tals/mg18825311.800
From new scientist [squeak, Jan 11 2006]


       I know that there are synthetic "ice skating" surfaces but I think they're not wax.   

       Paraffin can be really explosive but I'm not sure under what conditions.
bristolz, Jan 10 2006

       Rub a candle against your hand. Candle wax has high friction. Unless used in conjunction with a liquid; then it has low friction.
DesertFox, Jan 11 2006

       Why wouldn't you just use a big slab of polypropylene, just like they use to make kitchen cutting boards? It's a translucent white surface that certainly looks similar to ice; it is hard, yet will yield to a blade, much the same way ice will yield to a skate blade; when skaters fall on it there is the likelihood that they will suffer a few superficial abrasive burns and contusions, but little likelihood that they will become human candles and burst into flames. The biggest problem may be finding the proper sort of Zamboni to resurface the rink between periods. Sounds like the perfect warm weather ice rink substitute to me. [EDIT: I see that bristolz' link has already covered most of these considerations in a proven product.]
jurist, Jan 11 2006

       //I know ice skating works by the pressure of the skates slightly melting the ice// - I think there's some debate over this. It sounds plausible, but the argument is, I think, that the skate just isn't in contact with a given bit of ice for long enough for pressure to melt it. The alternative theory is that the ice is melted by friction but (see link) there's some debate and really, nobody knows.
hippo, Jan 11 2006

       I've seen polypropylene-like slabs sprayed with glycerine solution used as "ice".
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Jan 11 2006

       In the December New Scientist there was something about making ice at room temperature using electric currents. Exactly how safe this would be to skate on, I don't know. Water, electricity and people is not usually a great combination.
squeak, Jan 11 2006

       Is this not widely known to exist? We had an artificial "ice" rink in our town when I was a kid. It was made of some kind of waxy plastic tiles. It was not nearly as good as real ice, but I guess it was cheaper to run and maintain, and you did not get a wet bottom when you fell over.
Minimal, Jan 11 2006

       Teflon sheets about 1/2" thick are used in industry for a variety of applications where sliding things along is useful. I'd suggest those instead. Much more durable, and certainly more effective than wax. Then again, we could invent a little thing called "roller blades" -- oops, that's done already.
zigness, Jan 12 2006

       Guys, half the fun of the wax suggestion rather than a hard sheet as per other followups is that you can cut it up with your blades and spray it around as you skate; when your buddies fall over you can kick your toe in the ice as you pass them and kick up ice in their face in the universally recognised skaters gesture for "Loser!" :-) It adds a whole psychological level of realism that's missing from all these high-tech floor coverings.
gtoal, Jan 12 2006


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