Frequently Asked Questions about REALice®

How does REALice® work?

REALice® removes micro-bubbles from water that’s used when laying and resurfacing the ice. The ice-sheet can be resurfaced with REALice® ambient temperature water, which eliminates the need to burn natural gas to heat the water. By removing micro-bubbles, the ice sheet becomes a more compact sheet of ice. Learn more about the REALice® technology

What are the benefits of using REALice®
  1. Reduced energy usage (natural gas) from not heating up the water
  2. Save CO2 emissions, due to less usage of kw and gas
  3. Decreased energy usage (kw), due to raising the brine temp (ice sheet is more compact)
  4. Less usage of compressor(s), due to raising the brine temp
  5. Reduction of usage of de-humidifier, due to less evaporation by using cold water
How much energy, GHG emissions and money can I save with REALice®

The average savings per ice sheet (160 gallons/ resurfacing, 10/d, 48 weeks/y) are:

  • Natural Gas: 400 GJ – 600 GJ
  • Electricity: 50,000 kWh and up
  • Emissions: 50t of CO2 and up

The amount of money you can save with REALice® depends on the rink size and price for gas & electricity. Our references have shown that they save anywhere between $ 1,000.-  to $ 1,200.- per month on a single pad. This results in annual savings between $ 12,000.-  to $ 14,400.-

What is the return on investment (ROI) on REALice®

The return on investment is between 2-3 years. This depends on the size of the arena, the amount of water, resurfaces of the ice per day, temperature of the water applied, and the current ice thickness. With additional support from local utilities or if applied in a twin pad rink, the return on investment can be less than one year

How is the quality of the ice?

Laying the ice using REALice® treated water gives you an optimal foundation for high quality ice. REALice® treated water produces ice which is hard and more resilient than traditional ice. As micro-bubbles, that normally are in the water have been removed, the ice obtains greater clarity so that advertising and lines become more clearly visible through it.

How is REALice® installed?

Installation is simple and takes between 1-2 hours (certified plumber): REALice® is installed next to the ice resurfacers’ water filling station.
The hose for the ice resurfacer is connected directly to the REALice® system. If needed, we recommend to install a mixing valve and a back flow preventer. The mixing valve helps to add a little bit of warmer water (max. 18 degrees Celsius). This might be needed, if the outside temperature drops significantly below 0 degrees Celsius or if during the transition, when REALice® is applied to an existing sheet of ice, larger gouges are being observed from heavy user groups on the ice. As the ice settles the gouges will get smaller over time. For more information on installing REALice®, please refer to the Ice Academy

Can I apply REALice® to existing ice?

Yes you can. Start by planing down the ice approximately  0.59″ – 0.79″ (15-20mm), or to the point where any advertisement and other graphics show. Afterwards start to rebuild the ice with REALice® treated cold water only.  It is important to apply the new ice in thin layers that gets time to freeze in between refurbishing the ice. It is sufficient enough to add 0.59″ (15mm) of the new ice since it will be considerably stronger then the old one. Important: raise the ice temperature gradually and over time!  Learn more about how to start using REALice in the ICE Academy

Who is using REALice®

REALice® is in use in over 500 ice arenas world-wide and by the NHL Winter Classic.

Among these are arenas are:

Many more – see references

Is REALice® safe to use?

Yes, REALice® is safe. The technology has been tested in ISO 17025 accredited labs for pressure (up to 98.1bar), temperature (up to 284ºF/ 120°C) &  food safety

How long has REALice® been on the market and is there warranty on the product?

REALice® has been in the market since 2008 and is now in its second generation. The first ever installed REALice® unit has been installed in 1998 in the Malmö Arena, was hand-carved and is still in use.

Life expectancy is > 10 years, warranty is 5 years.

Can regular water be mixed with REALice® treated water?

No. Regular water cannot be mixed  with REALice® treated water even as little as washing the ice rag. Mixing the water would immediately aerate the treated water again. Once on REALice® water, it has to be exclusive.

Why is there snow build up on the ice?

Snow build up on an ice sheet is created if the temperature is either too high (creates more snow, slash/wet snow), too low (creates more snow, chippy/dry snow) or the humidity in the rink is not correct. Ideal humidity in the rink lies at 53% – 57%.

How can I melt all the snow left in the gouges after heavy user groups have been on the ice?

In that case the wash water cannot get all the snow out of the gauges, therefore when you have a heavy load on the ice add a little warm water in to the wash water max 18-20 degrees and problem will be solved. Important: use all water thru the REALice® system.

If your ice resurfacing machine doesn’t have wash water capabilities, then add a little bit of warm water, again max 18-20 degrees – to your resurfacing water, when dealing with heavy user groups.

Can lack of a wash result in more snow on the ice?

NO, what happen is, when you drive too fast with the machine, the snow in the gauges will jump up and give a rough surface. If the driver follows standard instructions for how long they need to resurfacing the ice, (NHL size 8-10 min) there will be no problem. REALice® creates less gauges and even without wash water, there will be no problem to get a great sheet of ice.

What is the wash water used for and does every ice machine have wash water?
  • Older machines, no wash water installed
  • Yes can be mounted after, sledge needed to be changed and tank need to be mounted
  • Wash water tank, +/- 100L
  • Purpose of wash water, to clean gauges
  • As REALice® creates less gauges, less wash water will be needed
  • We recommend to use wash water
  • Wash water need to have some temperature, approx. 20 degrees Celsius
Getting started with REALice®, what do I do if now the cold water freezes too fast and the ice gets brittle?

Starting with REALice® you have to adjust your brine temperature up (warmer) right away. As you lower the temperature of the resurfacing water you go up (warmer) with the brine temperature. Observe the snow produced on the ice. Best ice produces powdery snow. Start using the wash water with every ice clean. The wash water will fill the gauges.

How much time should I allow to resurface the ice?

To resurface the ice, allow at least 8minutes and 3-5minutes to let the ice dry. Drive the ice resurfacer machine slowly, especially in the corners.

How about maintenance for the REALice® System?

REALice® is 100% maintenance free, no additional energy sources systems needed

What are Best Practices when using the REALice® Technology
  • Always ensure that Blade is good & sharp
  • Shave the Ice with each Flood in addition to collecting snow
  • If needed, add Tempered Water (max 68°F) to Resurfacing Water
  • Use Tempered Water for the Wash Water
  • Take the Time to do the Ice & drive the Ice Resurfacer slowly:
  • NHL size: 8-10min, Olympic size: 10-12min
  • Use Hand-Held Device to build Ice, perform maintenance & repairs
  • REALice® Water and Normal Water cannot be mixed. Do not Bypass the System! 
Ways to measure / calculate savings with REALice®
  • Comparing current to previous utility bills (monitoring kWH, GJ / therm / m3 of natural gas usage / oil usage)
  • Monitoring compressor loads and running time and comparing with previous logs
  • Install separate sub meters on compressors and logging the run time and kWh usage, i.e with Eyedro Business Electricity Monitors (
  • Calculate savings by entering the temperature difference for resurfacing water & increase in brine temperature:
The ice looks wavy - what could be the cause?

If your ice looks wavy your blade might not be sharp enough. Another reason could be that your ice is too hard. This means it’s running too cold and needs to be set warmer.

Where do the micro air bubbles go?

The micro air bubbles are released into the atmosphere. The REALice® technology separates the micro air bubbles from the water. The air and the treated water go into the resurfacer: water on the bottom, air on top.

Is there extra benefit if softened water is used through the Realice system?

The better the incoming water is, the better ice REALice will provide. If the water softener is there to avoid scaling only, REALice can replace it as REALice will crystallize the lime particles and they will no longer cling to each other – or to metal surfaces (and clog up the nozzles on your ice resurfacing machines).

More Frequently Asked Questions
What is the FortisBC de-aerator pilot program?

FortisBC completed a pilot project investigating into vortex mechanical de-aerator technology during 2014 ice season. 10 arenas in British Columbia were chosen to evaluate REALice® in their arenas.

See Study Results from the FortisBC pilot program

Is it possible to use cold water to flood the ice?

Yes, with the REALice® technology cold water can be used to flood and resurface the ice. Depending on the conditions some ambient temperature water needs to be mixed in. The temperature of the water although should never exceed 18 degrees Celsius.

Does REALice® help to reduce lime scaling?

In untreated water, limescale appears in the form of calcite, which has an angular shape on the limescale crystal. This means that it easily attaches to other limescale crystals, pipes and nozzles, forming limescale deposits. These limescale deposits obstruct the water supply and routinely have to be removed. In water treated using the REALice® System, calcite is transformed into aragonite, which has a more rounded shape and consequently does not attach itself to other limescale crystals, pipes or nozzles.

What is the adoption rate of REALice® in different countries?

The adoption rates of REALice® in Europe (as of fall 2012):

  • The Netherlands 50%
  • Finland 17%
  • Sweden 15%
  • Germany 5%
  • Switzerland 5%
  • France 2%

Italy, Russia, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Spain, currently feature 2-3 units per country. Thanks in large part to the strong support from the KHL, the number of systems in Russia is quickly growing and is on track to reach 10-15% in the near future.

What are qualities of REALice® treated water?

Besides removing the micro air bubbles from the water, the vortex generator has a big influence on other aspects of the water, such as increased heat transfer capacity, lowered viscosity, increase in electrical conductivity…

Will REALice® help to increase the life span of the compressors?

Yes. Due to the reduced compressor loads by using REALice® the service life of the compressors can increase by about 10 % or 2.5 years.

Where are REALice® installations in Canada and USA?
Who is partner of the REALice® Technology?
  • International Ice Hockey Federation
  • Swedish Hockey Federation
  • Finish Hockey Federation
Are there studies conducted on REALice® in North America?

Yes, the ice rink water treatment system assessment, by the Design & Engineering Services Customer Service Business Unit Southern California Edison, was conducted in Dec. 2010.

    • The study was conducted on a small arena (75 gallons per resurface, 8 x daily) in California, applying the first generation of REALice®.
    • Edison quantifies the electricity savings and estimates the savings on natural gas without quantifying it.
    • Edison mentions improved product as a result of using REALice®;  better, harder ice through elimination of impurities through the Vortex treatment process.
    • Edison also mentions the impact of REALice® on other applications such as preventing hard water scales build up. Preventing lime scale build up in the ice resurfacer machine for example extends its life span and reduces maintenance time.
    • Edison recommends REALice® to all their ice rink customers as an energy savings solution


Large Scale Study through FortisBC with 10 participating arenas across British Columbia


  • 90% of the pilot participants successfully adapted their operations to the REALice® technology.
  • The achieved ice quality was evaluated from acceptable to excellent.
  • Fortis quantified the average savings across the participating pilot arenas at 330 GJ in Natural Gas per year
  • Across the pilot arenas, an increase of the slab temperature was required at all sites and an average increase of  3°F was observed. A reduction in the ice slab thickness on average by 0.25 – 0.5 inch was noted also.
  • Electricity savings through increasing the slab temperature (approx. 20,000 kWh per 1.8°F) and reduction of the ice thickness (according to SaskPower and Manitoba Hydro) are significant and can be added on top of the calculated electricity savings from the Fortis report. Please refer to: Ice Rink Resurfacing Efficiency Pilot – Summary of Study Results.pdf to see internal results and estimates from some of the arenas also.
Does REALice® affect workplace safety?

Yes, using cold water to flood the ice eliminates the need to operate with hot water 60ºC/140ºF to 71ºC/160ºF takes away the risk of burning injuries for anyone involved in the ice making process.

Where is REALice® engineered, designed and manufactured?

REALice® is engineered, designed and manufactured in Sweden by Watreco AB in Sweden.

The trademark REALice® is owned by the Watreco Group in Sweden.  Watreco operates within the fields of limescale reduction and ice & snow.

The REALice® system is based on the processing and treatment of water in a natural, ecological and environmentally-friendly way.

Within the framework of REALice®, a complete system for treating water for artificially-frozen ice rinks has been developed, which delivers harder, better and more energy-efficient ice.

The Watreco/REALice® vortex generator is protected by an international patent. It is able to generate a well-defined vortex at a considerably lower pressure and flow than what can be achieved through other techniques.

Do you offer any support with installing and using REALice®?

Yes, we offer support for any arena installing and using REALice®:

  • Comprehensive manual, guide and tips
  • Connecting ice makers with ice makers already using REALice®
  • Phone support from Canada and from the manufacturer in Sweden.
Do you offer any support in capturing and documenting the savings with the REALice® System?

Yes, we offer to help you monitor and evaluate at the savings with the REALice® System.

Is REALice® a water filtration system?

No, REALice® is not removing anything out of the water except from air bubbles. By removing of the air bubbles, the properties of the water is altered – viscosity is decreased and the heat transfer capacity increased.

Can you explain the initial cost of the REALice® system?

The REALice® system is a complete solution, developed, applied and tested to the highest standards of engineering, executed (3D printing) and quality controlled in Sweden. The system is priced on a ROI of  2 – 3 years on a single sheet of ice (depending on the arena and prices paid for gas and electricity) and enables you to fundamentally change the operation of your arena by using cold instead of hot water to resurface the ice. Besides creating excellent ice, saving energy and costs these are the additional benefits:

  • less humidity in the arena – less draw on de-humidifiers,
  • less draw on compressors and therefore extended life,
  • reduced load on hot water boilers,
  • reduced lime scale build up,
  • less ice cleans and less water used
Can we still get significant savings with REALice®, even though we are using heat exchange systems in our arena?

Absolutely, the heat recovery only will affect the gas bill, since wouldn’t have to pay for heating up the water. Significant savings using the REALice® system will still occur for:

1.) compressors, less running time
2.) de-humidifer, less running time
3.) less maintenance in the building, due to less humidity
4.) less maintenance on the Zamboni
5.) without air bubbles, thinner ice and less energy used

Is REALice® harder, stronger and more resilient than traditionally made ice?

Yes, it is. Studies have shown that the overall uniformity of ice strength is much better after the installation of the REALice® system. This means that the ice was more consistent in hardness across the entire rink.

Who can I contact about REALice® in Canada?

You can contact SWICH SERVICES Inc. at [email protected] or toll free at: 1 888.542.92.92.

SWICH SERVICES is the technology transfer partner for REALice® for Canada and based in Vancouver BC. Contact us

REALice vs. Hot Water