Depending on the weather, different kinds of ice form on the Rideau Canal Skateway. There are two main types of ice: white ice and clear ice.
White ice or “snow ice” forms when fallen snow becomes soaked with water and freezes. White ice is opaque and milky, and contains many air bubbles.
There is also a type of white ice that can be made through a mechanical process. White ice is made by flooding the snow that covers the surface of existing ice. With this process, the thickness of ice needed for skating can be created more quickly. This process is used primarily at the beginning of the season.
Clear ice is colourless, though it may look blue, green or even black from above. This type of ice forms naturally when temperatures are cold enough and crystals form below the frozen surface.
Just removing the snow is not enough to turn the Rideau Canal into the world’s largest skating rink. In the winter, the snow is cleared away, and the ice surface is swept and flooded to smooth out the cracks. This process is repeated each night that the weather conditions permit. This creates a safe skating surface, ready for early morning skaters.