How to Bake Hockey Skates
Heat molding or baking your new hockey skates is a way to help break them in faster so they’ll hurt less and fit your foot better. Some hockey players choose to heat mold their skates at home in the oven, and others take them to a pro shop. But we say, don’t try this at home: you can ruin your skates or even injure yourself. Buy your skates at a shop where they’ll bake them for you for free, like Pure Hockey, or pay a few bucks to have them baked professionally.
Can My Hockey Skates Be Baked?
Not all skates can be heat molded. In general, higher-end skates can be baked, while you probably shouldn’t bake low-end skates. Subjecting lower-level or recreational skates to the temperatures required for heat molding can cause the materials to break down faster, decreasing the skate’s ability to provide support and shortening its overall lifetime. In general, you should check with your local hockey shop or the manufacturer of your skates to find out whether your new pair can be baked. The pros at Pure Hockey can help you find out which skates can be baked and which cannot.
Alternatives to Baking Hockey Skates
There are many reasons NOT to bake your skates.
Maybe you’re just learning and have purchased a pair of beginner skates, which are not recommended for heat molding. Or maybe you just can’t stand the thought of putting that new pair of $1,000 skates in an oven.
There are many potential downsides to baking your skates at home. It’s possible for the glue holding the bottom of the boot to the upper part to weaken, allowing the pieces to come apart. The heating process can also cause the stitching to weaken. Uneven heating in the oven, using too high a heat setting, or leaving the skates in the oven too long can cause some of the boot to actually melt—the internet is full of photos of skates melted into puddles. At this extreme, there’s also the real risk of injuring yourself or causing a fire.
If for some reason you can’t bring them to a pro shop or Pure Hockey, one alternative to baking your skates in an oven at home is to use a hairdryer. Heat the material inside and out until it softens and can be formed.
But there is truly no substitute for just lacing up a new pair of skates and putting in the time on the ice. The first few skates will certainly cause some pain that will linger well after you’re off the ice. There’s no getting around it. But each hour of ice time should get a little bit more comfortable, until you have six or eight skates behind you, when the fit will have improved.
Breaking in new skates is not easy. While many types of shoes these days are lace-up-and-go, hockey skates are not among them. But if your new skates can be heat molded, safely baking them before you wear them can significantly shorten the break-in period and make them much more comfortable the first time you step onto the ice.