Buying new skates is great, isn’t it? Brand new, shiny, pristine blades with no dings, dents, or scuffs...awesome. Of course, all that new-ness comes with one drawback - stiffness. Like new shoes (only way worse), new hockey skates can be stiffer than a shot of Jack Daniels. Breaking in your new skates can take a while. For those who want to speed up the process, there’s an operation you can perform called Heat Molding - better known to players as “baking.”
Baking your skates will not only help break them in faster, but also get even the most stubborn of skates to give you a more comfortable and custom fit. Many believe you need a special kind of oven to properly bake your skates. While ovens designed for this are handy and slightly easier to use, you can actually do it yourself using the conventional oven in your home.
Ingredients: 2 eggs, milk, butter...just kidding. All you’ll need is your skates, an ordinary baking sheet, and your kitchen oven pre-heated to about 175 degrees.
- Grab one of your skates and loosen the laces all the way down with the tongue wide open, so you can slip your foot in very easily.
- Place the skate on your baking sheet.
- With the oven now pre-heated to 175, TURN IT OFF and place the sheet with your skate on the middle rack. Most skates should bake for 6-8 minutes. But check the box your skates came in. There may actually be a suggested time indicated on the label.
- After 4-5 minutes, open the oven and feel the boot. If it’s soft enough that it can be shaped, it’s ready. If not, leave it in for another 2-3 minutes. Be sure not to leave the door open too long while checking. You don’t want the temperature in the oven to drop significantly.
- Once soft enough, remove your skate from the oven, have a seat, and slip your foot in. Then begin tightening your laces from bottom to top as smoothly as possible. Meaning, try not to strain the eyelets too much. This can damage them.
- Once laced up, sit tight for about 15 minutes. This will allow the boot to cool and mold successfully to the shape of your foot.
- If you want to increase the width at all, feel free to stand up during this 15-minute cooling period. However, DO NOT walk around. This can both strain the eyelets and mis-shape the boot.
- After 15 minutes, unlace the skate and remove your foot. Then re-lace the skate, set it in an upright position and let it sit for 24 hours. This will complete the cooling process.
- Now go back to the beginning and bake the other skate.
If it’s so easy, why doesn’t everyone do it?
Some skaters like breaking in their skates the old-fashioned way - by skating, skating, skating. Others don’t want to risk screwing up the baking process and possibly ruin their skates. It’s understandable, I suppose. Though not a difficult process, one needs to be careful when baking. If it’s done incorrectly, this process can result in the pre-mature breakdown of your skates. So pay attention at all times and follow directions closely!
Seeing is believing
If you’re more of a visual person (like me), you might find a video demo more helpful than this article. There are tons of videos online demonstrating this process. The best I’ve seen can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBqRt701oZQ.
Posted on Thu, June 23, 2011
by Hockey Rob filed under