A curling stone, the puck used in curling, is made of granite, but it is not just any granite – it is blue hone granite that can be found only off the coast of Scotland on an island known as Alisa Craig. Although blue hone is the first choice of top curling teams, Alisa Craig Common Green is the second choice. Thick pieces of granite from the island are cut and polished into pucks that weigh between 38 and 44 pounds. The World Curling Federation (WCF) uses only stones from Alisa Craig granite. Although the island has a lot of granite, it is not accessible because of environmental concerns.
The British government stopped all blasting for granite in the 1990s when scientists discovered that puffin, birds that once used the island as a breeding ground, were nowhere to be found. Rats brought to the island by miners had been eating the birds’ eggs, causing the birds to move to another location. The government then grew poisonous wheat to kill the rats, and the birds returned for breeding once again. The Royal Society for the Protection of the Birds now manages the island as a bird reserve, and the company who owns the rights to the blue hone granite is no longer allowed to blast for granite.
This company, Kays of Scotland, claims to have enough granite to last for a long time. In the meantime, a Canadian company has been manufacturing curling stones made from Welch granite since there is no other known source of the blue hone granite. This granite is usually in shades of red and brown as well as blue and gray, and is called Trefor. These stones sell for about $600 when new. Blue hone granite stones are used by elite teams, and these stones can cost around $30,000 for the team’s stones.
Anyone interested in buying curling stones can find them at several online websites who specialize in curling supplies. A new official competition curling stone sells for $450.00, while a used stone sells for around $295.00. There are also used decorative curling stones for sale and antique blue hone curling stones. With a little bit of searching, curling clubs who are just beginning can find deals, such as a complete set of used curling stones, a total of 16 rocks, for around $4,000.00. Of course, buying heavy stones online, especially 16 stones, can cost a lot in shipping fees.
Curling stones have a very shiny, polished surface that helps them glide over the ice. Curling stones are thick discs that have a handle attached at the top. There are official dimensions for curling stones, including a maximum circumference of 36 inches. They must be at least 4.5 inches high. The only part of the stone that touches the ice is the ring that runs around the circumference of the disc. Blue hone granite stones are preferred because they do not absorb moisture, so the freezing and melting water does not easily erode the stone.
Sometimes an electronic handle is placed on the curling stone to see any hog line violations. It is known as the eye of the hog, and it can tell if the thrower’s hand is touching the handle as it passes the hog line. The eye of the hog has a light at its base that goes off if this violation occurs. These are required in most competitions on the national and international levels. They add another $650.00 to the cost of the curling stone. The high cost of curling probably keeps many of those who would love to take part in the sport from playing since it is an expensive sport due to the high price of equipment.