In many ways, hockey pucks are the unsung heroes of the hockey game. We spend lots of time finding the perfect hockey sticks and skates, but the humble puck is often taken for granted. Actually, many technological advancements went into the creation of the modern hockey puck. If you’ve ever wondered, “what is a hockey puck made of?” you’ve come to the right place.
We will go into the process of how hockey pucks are made, as well as their composition. Interestingly, the debate over the origins of the word “puck” is still not settled. Some say it is named after the character Puck in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Others say it comes from the Gaelic word puc, meaning to poke or punch. Either way, pucks are essential for all ice hockey games, from playing in the basement with friends to the National Hockey League games.
Today, hockey pucks are generally made of vulcanized rubber. Vulcanization is a process by which sulfur is applied to rubber in a chemical treatment process. The effect is to turn soft rubber into hard rubber and reduce its elasticity.
However, not all pucks are created equal – let’s compare the production process for an official hockey puck for NHL games, and those made for practice.
- Practice pucks: a practice hockey puck is made from a 40 foot long rubber tube, which is sliced into 4 inch pieces. These are then dropped into a heated mold and compressed.
- Game pucks: NHL game pucks are made by mixing granular rubber with a bonding material, then compressing this mixture in a room temperature mold. League logos are added later using rubber based ink. While pucks made for practice can be knocked out at a rate of 10,000 a day, only about 5,000 regulation pucks can be made a week.
The average NHL game goes through approximately a dozen pucks! This is because they are frozen to prevent them bouncing, but they thaw quickly.
What Are Hockey Pucks Made Of
Learn about the material used to make pucks…
It is believed that the first hockey puck was just a rubber ball sliced in half. But throughout the 1800s, frozen cow dung, rubber balls and blocks of wood were all used as ice hockey pucks! Rubber pucks gained popularity in the 1900s. These were made from two pieces of rubber glued together, and often came apart during games. Today’s modern puck design emerged in 1940.
Hockey puck dimensions vary, as does hockey puck weight. A standard hockey puck for the NHL is 3 inches in diameter (75mm) and weighs 5.5 – 6 ounces (156-170g).
Youth hockey pucks, designed for children’s hockey leagues, are only 4 ounces (110g). There are also heavier pucks that are used by players for strength training.
In 1995/96 the league developed a smart puck that contained a tiny battery and computer board as well as infrared emitters. It was called the “Foxtrax Puck” as it allowed television viewers to track the movement of the puck.
However, the league stopped using them after the 1998/99 campaign as they were designed specifically for Fox Sports, and the network did not renew its contract with the NHL.
Modern hockey pucks can reach a speed of over 100 miles per hour of a slapshot!
Frequently Asked Questions
Hockey pucks are made of rubber because this is the material that best allows it to glide easily across the ice surface. Rubber can also withstand shots with a hockey stick at over 100mph without becoming damaged. In the past, wood, cow dung and even stones were used when playing hockey. However, no material has performed as well as rubber (yet!)
The mineral of sulphur is in a hockey puck, as it is added to the rubber during the process of vulcanization. Other than that, a standard puck is just made from rubber. However, regulation NHL pucks are made from binding rubber with a bonding agent, as well as coal dust and antioxidants.
A hockey puck is extremely durable due to the vulcanization process. In 2014, a study by the University of Alabama found that a standard puck could withstand 80,000 pounds (40 tons) of pressure before it began to break apart. Although hockey pucks are replaced several times during a league game, this is due to them thawing. For non-professional use, you can expect a hockey puck to last at least two years before it needs replacing.
There is nothing inside a puck besides solid vulcanized rubber! The only experiment with adding tech elements to the hockey puck occurred in the season of 1995/96 when the NHL put a tiny battery and computer board inside a puck. These pucks had infrared emitters that allowed television viewers to see a red or green trail on the television screen when a hockey player made a shot.
What is a hockey puck made of? The answer is simple – vulcanized rubber. However, there are lots of interesting facts to learn about the origins of the hockey puck, how it is made, and variations between different kinds of puck today. We hope you have learned some things you didn’t know about this crucial element of one of our favorite winter sports!