Ice skating is a fun and enjoyable winter activity, but it is important to take care of your ice skate blades in order to ensure that you have the best possible experience every time you hit the ice.
If you're like most ice skaters, you want your skate blades to stay sharp throughout the year with limited signs of wear on the blade profile or boot.
Dull blades can impact your overall performance and to a certain degree actually be dangerous.
This is why we would like to highlight some good practices and habits that you should use to make sure your ice skates stay in the best shape all year long!
In this article post, we will discuss the seven best ways that you can protect your ice skate blades throughout the season which can kind of serve as your checklist and become part of you regular "preventive maintenance program".
A little bit of preventative care now will save you from having expensive repairs down the road!
Ice skate blades are razor sharp and should only be handled and maintained by a qualified adult that is schooled in blade maintenance. Children or inexperienced adults should NOT be relied on to perform any type of skate blade maintenance as they could be seriously injured if the skates are not properly handled.
Understanding Your Edges
For any skater, having a properly maintained skate blade edge is critical for them to perform at a high level and grip the ice.
Skate blade edges are impacted with every skating maneuver and are ever so slightly worn down with every inside and outside movement during workouts and skating elements.
This is important to keep in mind in when training and working on different drills as you get to understand how each movement directly impacts your edges.
Edges that are frequently worn on the same side can sometimes bring to light a skating flaw, bad habit or weakness that needs to be addressed or worked on.
So make it a point to "Read Your Edges" and get to know them a little better as probably the most important gear in your bag!
Skate Blade Maintenance
The name says it all as the purpose of your Skate Guards are to protect your skates blades from damage while walking.
Skate guards are in no way a permanent cover to be used while storing your skates (we'll get into that later).
Think of your skate guards as "foot / travel guards" to help you get from "Point A" (the ice) to "Point B" (your skate, hockey bag or home storage).
Storing your skates with the skate guards on will trap moisture which will damage and rust the blade over time.
Be sure to check your skate guards from time to time and replace them if they show any signs of wear or cracking.
One way to protect your ice skate blades is to always dry them off after skating as this will help prevent rust and corrosion from setting in.
Simply take a dry rag or microfiber cloth and carefully wipe down the blade until it's completely dry.
If by chance you don't have a rag or cloth simply use a paper towel or keep and extra pair of socks in your bag to wipe down your blades.
Remember, metal blades will corrode at a high rate if exposed to humid conditions for a prolonged period of time so this is a very critical first step in properly maintaining your blades.
This is now the perfect time to inspect your ice skate blades after they have been completely dried-off.
First examine both the inside and outside edges to make sure that the blades are not chipped or damaged in any way.
If you notice any such damage, you will need to get your ice skate blades professionally sharpened before hitting the ice again.
The next thing you will need to check your edges to make sure they are level and don't favor one side or the other.
This can vary after every time you skate depending on what type of drills or skills you were working on or what skating habits you have developed, good or bad.
For instance, if you favor turning or stopping towards the right then your left inside edge and right outside edge may wear quicker each time you practice.
If you want to check your blades with the naked eye it's quite hard though laying a flat coin across the edges can help train your eyes until you get good at it.
Investing in an edge checker and keeping it in your bag is a great way to insure you stay on top of your edges (pun intended) after every workout.
Think of your ice skate blades as an expensive pair of knives, (which is really what they are) and running a hand stone across the flat side of your ice skate blades will help remove any unwanted burrs or small nicks.
Typically, after every sharpening your skate technician will perform this procedure once the skate is removed from the sharpener.
In the meantime, keep a stone in your bag as it's also a good habit to get into between sharpenings as this will not in any way dull your blades and only help hold your edge that much longer.
Once you've honed your edges be sure to wipe them down once again to remove any debris from the hand stone.
Blade Wax & Conditioner
Skate sharpening wax or blade conditioner adds another layer of protection by coating your blades with oil agents that will help prevent rust.
Simply apply a thin coat to both of your skate blades before preparing your skates for storage.
These are all good habits that will help you better understand the importance of blade maintenance and if done properly on a regular basis will in the end help the skaters overall performance.
Your ice skate blades don't have to wait to reach the technician to be shown a little "love" in between sharpening's.
Think of the Skater, Athlete or Parent as the "Skate Keeper" in between games or performances and you'll be sure to get the most out of every pair of blades.
Before placing your skates in your bag for travel be sure to wrap them in a Terry Cloth sport towel to keep them dry until you get them home.
Once home, take them out of the bag and into open air to help thoroughly dry them out.
Skate wall hangers or hooks are relatively inexpensive and work great in helping you air out your skates.
Be sure to pull back the skate tongue far enough to help air flow into the boot while in storage.
You can also help speed-up the process with a hair dryer or dryer rack if you're between games or events and don't like the feel of lacing-up into a damp pair of skates.
Now it's time for maintenance and to get your skate blades sharpened and if by now you don't have a favorite skate tech to rely on ask around to see who your friends or teammates may be using.
Skaters and hockey players are always very particular and superstitious when it comes to who handles their skates for sharpening and profiling.
Everyone is different and has their own personal preferences and opinions when it comes to sharpening their ice skates.
This goes to show you just how much of an important aspect of your game or performance your skates provide.
Some skaters love an extra sharp pair of skates while others can go weeks on a dull pair and are totally happy.
It's important for each skater to communicate their preferences to the skate tech and develop that relationship of trust that they will provide a well profiled, sharp skate with each pass of the grinder!
Side Note: Synthetic Ice Skate Blade Tip
Here's just a quick tip we have received from customer feedback over the years with regards to the skate blade "hollow" preference for when you plan on skating on synthetic ice.
For those who don't know, the skate blade "Hollow" is the cavity at the bottom of your skate blade between the outside and inside edges on both blades.
Most techs provide a rounded-out hollow cut while others go with the "Flat Bottom V" method depending on the skater's preference.
Many skaters with the rounded hollow have shown a preference for a deeper hollow when skating on synthetic ice that seems to hold their edges a little longer between sharpenings.
For example, if you currently skate with a 1/2" hollow on your blade you may want to opt for a deeper 3/8" hollow if you own or will be skating on a synthetic ice surface.
If this is the case we recommend keeping a separate set of skates for your synthetic ice training and keeping your "gamers" or "performance" set ready for natural ice.
When it comes to ice skating, having well-maintained blades is key to maximizing your potential with well kept gear.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced skater, getting in the habit of taking proper care of your ice skates is vital in making sure you get the results you deserve from all the hard work and training you do in becoming a better skater or athlete.
Performing on ice skates as an Skater or Hockey Player requires a high level of skill developed through many years of practice and it's imperative that your skates are always up to the challenge!
We briefly reviewed these 7 steps throughout this article and recommend that you take the time to continue researching each step to become the ideal "Skate-Keeper" we know you can be!
Keep on Skating!!