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 don’t try this at home: you can ruin your skates, or worse. 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 and you probably shouldn’t bake low-end skates. Some mid-range to advanced level hockey skates can be baked to ease the break-in period and better form them to your feet, making them more comfortable faster. Subjecting recreational skates, or lower level skates, to the temperatures required for heat molding, however, can cause the materials to break down faster, decreasing the life of the skates and the skate’s ability to provide support. In general, always check with your local hockey shop or the manufacturer of your skates to know if they can be baked. The pros at Pure Hockey can help with understanding which skates can be baked and which should not be heat-molded.
Alternatives to Baking Hockey 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 reasons not to bake your skates. It’s possible for the glue holding the bottom of the boot to the upper to weaken, or the pieces could come apart completely. The heating process can also cause stitching to weaken, and using too high a heat setting or leaving the skates in the oven too long can cause some of the boot to actually melt. All of these issues and more can occur when you try to bake your skates at home versus bringing them to a pro shop or Pure Hockey. The Internet is full of photos of skates melted into puddles. There’s also the risk of injuring yourself or causing a fire.
One alternative to baking your skates in an oven is to use a hairdryer, heating the material inside and out until it softens and can be formed. But there is truly no substitute for lacing up a new pair of skates and putting in the time on the ice. The first few skates will certainly cause some pain, and it 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 baking your new skates 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.