We are investigating the transmission of low energy ions (<10 eV) through ultrathin films of condensed rare gases. Our goal is to address the issue of the depth of origin of secondary ions that desorb from solid surfaces under the impact of ionizing radiation, such as electrons, photons, or through ion sputtering. The secondary ions are produced by electron stimulated desorption (ESD) from a suitable substrate, such as an oxide or an adsórbate on a metal single crystal; the overlayer gas is condensed onto this substrate. The yield, energy and angular distributions of the ions are measured as a function of overlayer thickness. We find that 7 eV oxygen ions can be transmitted through rare gas films (Kr, Xe) several ML thick. In contrast, O+ is completely suppressed by 0.5 ML of H2O. Surprisingly, we find the F− yield to be 4 times higher in the presence of 1 ML of Xe, compared to the clean surface value, accompanied by a dramatic change in the ions’ angular distribution. We discuss a model which considers elastic scattering and charge transfer of the ions with rare gas atoms, as well as the structure of the surface and the electronic properties of the solid-vacuum interface.