Caring for Kids' Ice Skates

Kids' ice skates can be pricey, so take good care of boots and blades.

Kids ice skates - care and sharpening
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If your child figure skates or plays ice hockey, you'll need to become an expert in kids' ice skates. Care for them properly and your child might even be able to wear them until she outgrows them! Better yet, if they're still in good shape, you may be able to re-sell skates

Everyday Ice Skate Care

For both figure skates and hockey skates, kids should wipe blades off thoroughly after using. It also helps to store skates with soft, absorbent blade covers.

But it's important to make sure these covers are clean. Dirt inside can damage blades or cause them to rust. 

Kids should also keep skate blades covered with guards anytime they are off the ice. Hard guards allow them to walk on concrete floors without damaging their blades. Unguarded blades should only step on ice, rubber matting, or carpet (and even those aren't ideal, so avoid if possible). Any other surfaces can ruin the blade. However, kids should not store blades in these hard guards. Dry them off and switch to soft covers.

Some figure skate boots need to be waxed and/or polished regularly. When you buy the boots, find out what the dealer recommends.

Skate Sharpening

Ice skate sharpening can be confusing (when? where? how often?), so here's a cheat sheet. The sharpener uses a rotating grinding wheel to renew the edges of the skate blade by removing a small amount of metal from the blade.

Sharper edges help the skate grip the ice; duller blades will feel like they are sliding sideways.

How often should skates be sharpened? This is a matter of personal preference. As your child becomes a more accomplished skater, he or she will be able to determine what works best. If the skate blades look or feel dull, damaged, rusty, or like they are not secure (they are slipping sideways), that's a good indication that they could use sharpening.

Your child should make a point of noticing how freshly sharpened skates feel and trying to remember that feeling—so that when it goes away, she knows it's time for another sharpening.

Brand-new ice skates are usually sharpened at the factory or at the store where you buy them. Your child can usually skate about 40 hours in between sharpenings depending on how hard he skates, how sharp of a blade he prefers, and what the blade is made of. If you drag your fingernail gently along the edge of a sharp blade, you'll be able to peel off a tiny bit of metal. If you can't, the blades may need sharpening.

Ask your child's instructor or coach for recommendations on sharpening. Many rinks or sporting-goods stores have sharpeners. Some hockey parents even invest in their own sharpening equipment. Hockey skates are easier to sharpen than figure skates.

In most cases, figure skates should be sharpened by a pro. With good care and careful sharpening, blades will last for five to eight years—long after your child has outgrown the boots.

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