Skate Care 101: How to Take Care of Your Figure Skates

Written By: Riedell | June 24, 2019

We’ve all been there—the day you realized that it’s time to move on from your old skates and invest in a new pair. Those rusted, water damaged skates just won’t cut it anymore. While choosing your next pair can be an exciting experience, you’re going to want to make sure you have the proper knowledge and tools in order to make sure that this pair lasts as long as possible. Your skates are a major investment and vital to figure skating, so keeping them in tip-top shape should always be at the top of your to-do list. 

Taking care of ice skates doesn’t have to be hard. By employing the right skating accessories and adding a few simple steps into your post-practice routine, you can lengthen the life of your skates. From cleaning rust off of ice skates to applying a protectant on the leather, we’ve put together a guide on how to properly care for your boots and blades so that you can enjoy them for years to come. 

Boot Care

Leather boots have the capacity to hold up to one pound of moisture and are regularly exposed to bacteria from your feet, which can cause mold, mildew, and rotting if not taken care of quickly. There are several things you should do in order to efficiently and effectively care for your figure skates. The first steps should be taken before you even lace up those skates for a practice session on the ice. 

Since boots hold a lot of moisture, you make sure to use products that prevent water damage. The three-way boot care system from Riedell is a great tool to help protect your boots. The Whittemore® Heel and Sole Enamel helps to ensure that the cork around the heel and sole of your boot stays waterproof, Silicone Protectant helps prevent too much moisture build-up in the leather, and the Lexol® Leather Conditioner helps to keep your boots shiny and soft. With these products, you will be off to a good start with properly caring for your boots. 

While prevention is the best place to start, you’ll need to take additional measures while you’re training and consistently using your boots. Keep them looking beautiful with laces that last longer and don’t tear as easily as other, as well as by using lacing hooks to make sure that they are fitted properly and you’re comfortable while skating. Quality shoe polish is also a must in order to fix scuffs and blemishes that can occur while on the ice. 

Each time you head off the ice after a lesson or practice, there are several things you should do before just tossing your skates in your bag until next the next practice or performance. First, wipe down your skates inside and out to help get rid of any extra moisture from the ice and your feet, which can cause bacteria build-up. Second, properly unlace your boots and pull the tongue forward to provide airflow to the inside. Last, let your boots dry at room temperature before placing them back in your bag. 

Blade Care

A properly sharpened skate blade can make the difference between a great performance, failed test session, or simply just a fun day at the rink. For this reason, we encourage skaters to have their blades sharpened regularly by a trained and experienced skate sharpener. By doing so, you can be confident your skates will have a consistent edge.

Before having your skates sharpened, several factors should be taken into consideration so your blades can be sharpened to deliver the desired performance. Variables such as the size of the skater, type of skating being done, and the condition of the ice at the rink need to be considered when determining the desired depth of hollow. 

The depth of hollow is an arc from an imaginary circle, which is measured by the length of its radius. A circle with a smaller radius forms a deeper curve and deeper hollow, creating keener edges. When a skate blade is sharpened, the hollow is ground into the length of the blade by an abrasive sharpening stone spinning a high revolution speed. The face of the sharpening stone is curved outward so when the blade contacts the stone, it grinds the metal away, leaving a preset ROH.

Harder ice surfaces (17-19 degrees) can dull edges quicker and require a deeper radius of hollow (ROH) and sharper edges. Softer ice conditions (20-22 degrees) require a shallower ROH grind because blades can sink deeper into the ice surface.

General purpose ice skate blades are often sharpened with a shallower radius of hollow to prevent the edge of the blade from digging in too deep into the ice. More advanced and higher-level skaters typically have their blades sharpened with a deeper radius of hollow for better edge bite, speed, and control.

Though most blades are manufactured with a predetermined radius of hollow, that does not restrict or limit the skater’s individual options. The desired ROH should be determined by the skater’s personal preference and their style of skating. 

Skaters will usually notice right away when their blades need sharpening. When you start to slip on an edge, skid excessively into an entry of a jump or wash out on the landing of a jump, it’s time to have your blades sharpened. 

Keeping Your Eclipse Blades Looking Beautiful

Applying a light coat of oil periodically to the edge of your blades can help maintain the edge and prevent surface rust to the carbon steel. And while you won’t have to sharpen or oil your blades each time you skate, there are certain steps you should take to protect your blades every time you come off the ice. 

  1. Wipe away any excess ice shavings from blade when leaving the ice. Wear blade guards when leaving the ice and when on hard surfaces.
  2. After taking off your skates, remove guards and wipe away moisture with smooth, absorbent cloth.
  3. Put blade soakers on blade to absorb moisture and protect the finish.
  4. As blades return to normal room temperature, condensation will form on the blade. Wipe away moisture and put soakers on blade. Do not store skates with hard blades guards.

Custom Skates from Riedell

Ice skates are a critical piece of equipment in figure skating, so making sure you take proper care of them is important to your performance and the lifespan of your boots and blades. But before you can care for your skates, you need to find the right pair for you. With custom figure skates from Riedell, you can enjoy a skate that is uniquely fitted to your own foot. Our master craftsmen will use the exact specifications of your feet in order to provide increased comfort on the ice, taking into account any specialized needs you may have. Head to your local authorized dealer today or contact us to get started on creating your perfect pair of figure skates!