The Physics of Synthetic Ice

Molecular Weight & Coefficient of Friction

Molecular weight is defined as the total mass of all atoms making up a molecule. When you ask “what is the molecular weight of EZ Glide, you are implying that an EZ Glide skating surface is made of one single molecule, when in fact it is a proprietary mixture of different components and as such has no single molecular weight. 

Between two touching surfaces, there exists a Static coefficient of friction and a Kinetic (or dynamic) coefficient of friction. The Static coefficient refers to force needed to start one object moving across another. Kinetic friction refers to the force needed to maintain movement. These values are empirical measurements. They must be measured experimentally, and cannot be found through calculations. To obtain either one of these values, you must perform and record the results of a controlled experiment, which will be affected by all relevant parameters: 

  • Percentage of EZ Glide Enhancer™ solution
  • What grade of steel the skate blades are made of
  • Percentage of skate blade in contact with EZ Glide 350 surface
  • Rink location – indoor or outdoor
  • How clean is the synthetic ice / How much foreign matter or abrasive is on the surface
  • Experience level of skater
  • Weight of skater
  • Concave of the blade / Depth between the inner and outer edge of each blade
  • Sharpness of the blade edges (penetration into surface)
  • Angle between skate blade and surface (straight line or radius blade movement)
  • Temperature of the surface and the skate blade at time of testing / variable created by speed of blade and weight of skater
  • Speed of the skater

The coefficient of friction of EZ Glide 350 can only be measured for a given moment in time for a specific skater, in specific skates, under specific conditions. Once any of these change, the coefficient of friction changes; therefore, it is impossible to quote an accurate coefficient of friction for any synthetic ice skating surface. Refrigerated ice surfaces face the same issues, and as such, an accurate or consistent coefficient of friction cannot be quoted for refrigerated ice rinks either. 

The physics of synthetic ice are very complex, far more than refrigerated ice. The basics about synthetic ice that you need to know are: 

  • Yes, you can skate on synthetic ice
  • No, the glide properties are not 100% identical to refrigerated ice
  • Keeping the surface clean results in faster skating
  • Keeping blades sharp results in faster skating
  • Using EZ Glide Enhancer will dramatically increase the glide ratio of any synthetic ice product.

It is recommended that in order to best determine the true skating performance of a synthetic surface that you try it out prior to investing.

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