It is the number one tool, and often the only tool a skater needs.
Their ice skates.
Today’s ice skates come in different fits, performance levels, and of course, different price points.
As you move up in level, you will need better skates and better blades.
You will also find yourself skating on different surfaces, like synthetic ice.
Synthetic ice is a product of engineering advancements that became an excellent alternative to conventional ice skating.
Thus, the big question is, "Can synthetic ice ruin your blades?"
There is no need for special blades or specialized ice skates.
You can glide flawlessly with your regular hockey or figure skates.
Synthetic ice cannot and should not ruin your skates.
However, the synthetic surface may dull the blade more than the natural ice.
Don't worry, you just have to sharpen your blades based on how often you skate.
Why do Your Skates Dull Faster on Synthetic Ice?
Regardless of the surface, blades and edges of ice skates tend to dull over time.
Friction happens when your skate hits the ice, every time you push off. That friction helps melt the ice ever so slightly, which allows you to skate.
For synthetic ice, that liquid needs to be added.
Some synthetic ice products come infused with a slip agent.
Others are non-infused, so skaters need to apply a slip surface conditioner first.
The liquid is not constantly renewing itself like conventional ice, so eventually, there will be more friction from the polyethylene.
Home synthetic ice rinks are usually small, so skaters, especially kids, use the edges of their skates more frequently than they do on a large surface with natural ice.
This causes the edges to dull faster.
The quality of the synthetic ice also differs from one ice rink to another.
There are different types you can buy online but they aren’t made of High-Density Polyethylene or they aren’t infused.
The right ice provides the right mix of hardness and slickness for your skating maneuvers.
If your blades get dull too quickly or are damaged too often, then you might be skating on low-quality synthetic ice.
Its surface may be too hard for your blades, or it may be textured and so creates more shavings that damage your blades.
Do You Need High Quality Skates on Synthetic Ice?
Regular ice skates can be used on synthetic ice rinks.
We’ve done a list of the best skates under $200 and each works well on synthetic ice.
As a rule of thumb, higher-quality (more expensive) skates mean better blades.
The blades should last longer than budget blades, and you would sharpen the blades less often.
Stainless steel blades are considered beginner skates, and those are pretty good for synthetic ice too.
Nickel-plated blades are growing in popularity.
They are less subject to rust and damage, and their edges would last longer.
You’ll know when you need to sharpen your blades.
Skating won’t feel as smooth. Dull blades can restrict your turns and begin to lose their grip, meaning you’ll fall more.
You can also do ‘the thumbnail test.’ Turn our thumbnail to the blad and gently pass it along the edge.
If bits of the nail get shaved off, you still have a skatable edge.
Once you find yourself sharpening your skate blades too often - after 15 hours or less on the ice - you may have to buy another skate with better quality than your previous one.
Or you can always opt to have separate skates for your synthetic ice.
How to Take Care of Your Skate Blades
Ice skating is not a cheap hobby.
As such, regular maintenance of your ice skates is vital to maximizing their use (regardless if you're skating on natural ice or synthetic ice).
Here are some tips on taking care of your skates.
1. Avoid Using Your Skates in Places Not Made of Ice.
One habit that skaters do that causes significant damage to their skates? Walking them on surfaces other than ice.
When you walk on hard surfaces, like cement for instance, with your skates on, the blades can easily chip or dent, significantly reducing their lifespan.
Make sure to invest in blade guards.
Blade guards are made of rubber or plastic that you can put on your blades as you walk to and from the ice.
However, as you put your skates in your bag, closet, or locker, remember to take off the blade guards as they can trap moisture and may cause rust on your blade.
In other words, these are just to protect the blade but not for storage purposes.
It’s an additional expense, but they sure are worth the investment in the long run.
2. Sharpen Your Blades Regularly.
Sharp blades provide a smoother and faster feel on ice because they have a better grip. You can glide and train better even with minimum effort.
On the other hand, dull blades will just make your skating experience awful.
You also increase the chances of injury.
How often should you sharpen your blades?
It really depends on you.
You would surely feel the difference between a sharp and dull blade.
Different factors may affect how quickly your blade will become dull such as your weight, intensity, skill level, and of course, how often you use your skates.
The best synthetic ice should hold your skates for at least 10 hours.
You should trust how you feel when you're skating.
3. Make Sure that Your Blades are Sharpened Properly.
If you're a beginner and the only skater in the house, it is best to carry your skates to a skate shop or a professional since sharpening skates blades requires skill and precision.
As you improve your skating skills, you’ll probably have an interest in the craft of skate sharpening.
It’s best to learn from a professional first, then try on an older pair of blades first. When you’ve got the hang of it, you can invest in an at home skate sharpener.
When sharpening your blades, remember the hollow, that curved groove that goes down the center of the blade.
The depth of the hollow affects speed and performance. It can also influence how long it will last on your synthetic ice.
A deeper hollow depends on the pressure of the ice to improve performance, which may or may not help on synthetic ice.
You will have to experiment a bit to find the best hollow for you.
4. Remember to Keep Your Skates Dry.
Skating on synthetic ice does not mean it will no longer develop rust.
When you are on an ice rink, your skates are still prone to dirt, dust, and shavings.
So, no matter how exhausted you are from all the skating you did, don't forget to thoroughly dry off your skates before storing them.
Where you leave your skates is also essential.
Toss them in a corner for a few minutes but make sure to store them properly as soon as you can because the surrounding area may also cause your skates to develop moisture.
We recommend you put them in a dry skate bag or a ventilated compartment where they can quickly dry out.
You can also get soakers to help your blades stay dry.
Your Blades are Safe on Synthetic ice
Synthetic ice will not ruin your regular skates.
Yes, they would dull faster depending on the size of the ice rink, skating frequency, and, more importantly, the quality of the synthetic ice.
Investing in our Premium Grade, proprietary polyethylene ensures your skates have the best surface for a fantastic skate that protects your blades.
The right surface along with proper care means your skates are in safe hands.