Ice farming help


Original Post
Eric K · · Washington · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 45

I work at a camp where we farm Ice for climbing in the winter. This is the third winter doing this and I just took over the project. The previous people who worked on this are no longer around so I cannot ask them for help so I come to you all for advice. The tower is about 30' tall and 12' wide. There is rebar dripping down the face to collect ice and the bottom is wrapped with chain link fence. The current setup is a watering bar at the top with several spouts with adjustments that allow you to control the flow form a drip to a fine mist.

Sorry about the photos being sideways. For those who have farmed Ice or know a lot about it, what is the best way to get the ice to grow from the base upwards? I hear that it has grown from the top down in the past and that just seems like a bad situation. What would you do to this set up to encourage quicker Ice growth, more rebar, more chain link fence, hanging chains? Would putting a bunch of block ice at the base help seed the ice to start growing?

Thanks

ice wall

waterbar

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,755

Add something with lots of surface area for the ice to form on. Free-falling water is the slowest type of formation, so either get it running down a flat surface (this doesn't have to be strong; even hanging an old bedsheet off the top would suffice) or hang something like fine screening.

Here's my backyard ice wall in its early stage. The plywood was maybe 80-85 degree angle, so no free-falling water drops.

After one cold night. The cooler up top as the water source was later replaced with a small hose.

Woodchuck ATC · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 3,110

Just caught your thread today. agree you need surface to work with for the best, fastest results and plywood sheets would probably be the cheapest for you to add. IF you have another big solid structure to use on the property, I'd move over to that if the water supply allows. I'm not on Facebook anymore, ( got threats and hate there)....but find a group called 'Nice Ice' or member 'Juggler' . Our group has farmed ice on an old concrete silo for over 7 years now and we run water down from top with a variety of sprayers, soakers, drip adjustments to our top water ring. When it's a constant 22 or colder, we can run that and build it to over a foot thick in 3 days and nights easily. Plus we only try to build it on north facing, or slightly to east or west surfaces. South side, even with limited winter sun just melts away and has had no chance of a thick build up. Good winters we have stayed solid for 3 weeks or more in a row with no meltdowns, and up to 7 ft. thick at the base of our climbs. Check the face book page for pics and ideas. Best of luck.

Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 340

I was at a man-made wall in Vermont. They put up layers of chicken wire to catch the water and form the ice. It involved a lot of spraying.

Woodchuck ATC · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 3,110
Gunkiemike wrote:Add something with lots of surface area for the ice to form on. Free-falling water is the slowest type of formation, so either get it running down a flat surface (this doesn't have to be strong; even hanging an old bedsheet off the top would suffice) or hang something like fine screening. Here's my backyard ice wall in its early stage. The plywood was maybe 80-85 degree angle, so no free-falling water drops.
Looks nice, just add a whole lot more water flow. It's pretty tough to not have a massive flood area all frozen up at the base, but you need more flow to get more ice when the cold temps are just right. Sprayers, soakers, drip holes in PVC pipe across the top, etc. Just keep trying and adjusting that flow pressure so enough runs down and doesnt' just spray out 6 ft from the wall. Looks very good for growth the way it has started in this pic.
Nick Weicht · · Valdez, AK · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 13,369

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hd8et-2qVVI

Jon Nelson · · Bellingham, WA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 4,670

I've never tried making a large chunk of ice, but I imagine that having a very heat-conductive surface would help a lot. When water turns to ice, it heats up to the melting point, so if you can conduct that heat away, the water should freeze faster.

So, the more metal you have, the better you might be.

Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 165
Gunkiemike wrote:Add something with lots of surface area for the ice to form on. Free-falling water is the slowest type of formation, so either get it running down a flat surface (this doesn't have to be strong; even hanging an old bedsheet off the top would suffice) or hang something like fine screening. Here's my backyard ice wall in its early stage. The plywood was maybe 80-85 degree angle, so no free-falling water drops.
did you get a decent amount of use out this (im assuming its around 10' tall)? looks like something i could set up so im curious.

also, the cooler drip tank seems like a simple solution. is it a decent method, even though its less effective than a hose?
Craig Childre · · Lubbock, Texas · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 4,950

Not sure if this is common knowledge. Know that hot water freezes faster than cold. Hot water also forms better quality ice than cold. Don't believe me. Call up your local ice rink, and ask them what's the temperature of the water used in their zamboni? I would rig up a hanging cooler, with an electric water heater to drip a vertical section for a night. Work across the face.

I think to hang a couple of old sheets up across that rebar is the best advice I've read. Tie a few old towels on for some nubbins and sickles.

Interesting topic.

yukonjack · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 15

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mpemba_effect

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,755
Jake wander wrote: did you get a decent amount of use out this (im assuming its around 10' tall)? looks like something i could set up so im curious. also, the cooler drip tank seems like a simple solution. is it a decent method, even though its less effective than a hose?
I gave up on the cooler reservoir after just a night or two. I went with a narrow plastic tubing from an inside sink to a perforated drip fixture up top. It spread the water out better and ran 24 hr/day. At least until it froze up, which happened fairly often, at which point I needed to take the tubing inside to thaw out. Still, when it worked, it worked well and within a week or so I had 6-8" thick ice.

Yes, it was about 10-12' tall. Certainly no big thrill to climb on. But it did serve two useful purposes: 1) I was able to practice placing screws with my left hand until I finally was as good on that side as I am with my dominant right hand. 2) I was able to dial in my screw sharpening technique, since my workbench is literally 20 feet from the ice sheet. More than just sharpening, having the test ice right there let me diagnose some odd screw behaviors due to bent teeth (symptom - "spidering" cracks and spalling of the surface as the screw is put in) and, in one unusual case, an inner "ridge" at the back end of the tube that prevented the core chips from exiting the tube.

Here's my wall in its full fatness:

ice wall
Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,755
Craig Childre wrote:Not sure if this is common knowledge. Know that hot water freezes faster than cold. Hot water also forms better quality ice than cold. Don't believe me. Call up your local ice rink, and ask them what's the temperature of the water used in their zamboni? I would rig up a hanging cooler, with an electric water heater to drip a vertical section for a night. Work across the face.
You're referring to the Mpemba effect. It is only seen under certain fairly narrow conditions, and I suspect in the context of ice farming that it is not significant. Moreover, I would recommend against using hot water for the simple reason that it will melt a channel into the top of the ice sheet. Been there, done that. One exception I can think of though - if the ice sheet is really tall and the ambient temperature is so low that the water never makes it to the bottom. In that case warmer water might be helpful (as would simply using MORE water).

As to the Zamboni, I'm pretty sure the reason is so that the damaged top layer of the rink can melt and level a bit before it refreezes. Simply adding a layer of cold water will leave unwanted chips and ridges in the renewed ice surface.
Tylerpratt · · Litchfield, Connecticut · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35
Gunkiemike wrote: As to the Zamboni, I'm pretty sure the reason is so that the damaged top layer of the rink can melt and level a bit before it refreezes. Simply adding a layer of cold water will leave unwanted chips and ridges in the renewed ice surface.
Craig Childre · · Lubbock, Texas · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 4,950

Nice link Yukon... so the freezing faster effect may or may not be applicable here... seems the difference is negligible. I do believe you still get better quality ice by using warm water. Understand, my knowledge on this matter revolves around ice hockey. In particular, when they first flood a rink to form the ice they use hot water. That's on an actively refrigerated floor, likely the crucial aspect. Cool to learn that effect is called the "Mpemba"

D-Storm · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2007 · Points: 265

Gunkiemike, that's a nice fattie you have next to your house there. I can't help but wonder what the drainage is like next to your foundation when the thing thaws—how do you deal with that? I imagine you must have a slope that drains it away from your house...and into your neighbor's yard? ;-)

Gunkiemike wrote: I gave up on the cooler reservoir after just a night or two. I went with a narrow plastic tubing from an inside sink to a perforated drip fixture up top. It spread the water out better and ran 24 hr/day. At least until it froze up, which happened fairly often, at which point I needed to take the tubing inside to thaw out. Still, when it worked, it worked well and within a week or so I had 6-8" thick ice. Yes, it was about 10-12' tall. Certainly no big thrill to climb on. But it did serve two useful purposes: 1) I was able to practice placing screws with my left hand until I finally was as good on that side as I am with my dominant right hand. 2) I was able to dial in my screw sharpening technique, since my workbench is literally 20 feet from the ice sheet. More than just sharpening, having the test ice right there let me diagnose some odd screw behaviors due to bent teeth (symptom - "spidering" cracks and spalling of the surface as the screw is put in) and, in one unusual case, an inner "ridge" at the back end of the tube that prevented the core chips from exiting the tube. Here's my wall in its full fatness:
Woodchuck ATC · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 3,110
Gunkiemike wrote: I gave up on the cooler reservoir after just a night or two. I went with a narrow plastic tubing from an inside sink to a perforated drip fixture up top. It spread the water out better and ran 24 hr/day. At least until it froze up, which happened fairly often, at which point I needed to take the tubing inside to thaw out. Still, when it worked, it worked well and within a week or so I had 6-8" thick ice. Yes, it was about 10-12' tall. Certainly no big thrill to climb on. But it did serve two useful purposes: 1) I was able to practice placing screws with my left hand until I finally was as good on that side as I am with my dominant right hand. 2) I was able to dial in my screw sharpening technique, since my workbench is literally 20 feet from the ice sheet. More than just sharpening, having the test ice right there let me diagnose some odd screw behaviors due to bent teeth (symptom - "spidering" cracks and spalling of the surface as the screw is put in) and, in one unusual case, an inner "ridge" at the back end of the tube that prevented the core chips from exiting the tube. Here's my wall in its full fatness:
That looks great! Up the water pressure if you can to keep the lines from freezing. We just use garden hose at enough pressure to keep spraying out even in very cold temps to keep it flowing. No freeze up then. Low 20s down to mid single digits works soo good for a foot of phat' ice overnight. Below zero is just too brittle and hard to adjust from freeze up. 28 is about the warmest we get ice to form good,,,,,too near thaw temps to count on thick build up. Keep going, freeze more on each available day and night. Cloudy cold days are your friend.
Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,755
D-Storm wrote:Gunkiemike, that's a nice fattie you have next to your house there. I can't help but wonder what the drainage is like next to your foundation when the thing thaws—how do you deal with that? I imagine you must have a slope that drains it away from your house...and into your neighbor's yard? ;-)
You're correct - the base sloped away from the house into a lower spot where there once was a pool. No worries about water coming back at the house to cause trouble.

And FWIW, I only had this "wall" one winter. We were about to replace the deck and my wife said she wouldn't be upset if the ice pulled the deck down. It didn't do anything, but our fancy-dancy new deck is strictly off limits icewall-wise.
Thomas H · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 0

Any ideas what kind of nozzles those are in the Ouray video?

Michael Schneiter · · Glenwood Springs, CO · Joined Apr 2002 · Points: 8,745

I think they're a type of shower head.

Morgan Patterson · · CT · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 8,712
Thomas H wrote:Any ideas what kind of nozzles those are in the Ouray video?
http://www.baltimorehardware.com/product/24963/ldr-502-1100-water-saving-shower-head-chrome?gclid=CMP31abl5NACFQ6NaQodwfAJ-A
Tylerpratt · · Litchfield, Connecticut · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35
Morgan Patterson wrote: baltimorehardware.com/produ...
This is seriously the best shower head for your home as well. I fucking love this thing so much.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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