Keeping your skate blades sharp is an important part of maintenance, but there’s no general rule for how often to do it. These are the variables to consider.
If you’re an avid ice skater, you’ve probably asked yourself, “When should I get my skates sharpened?” Some skaters choose to get their skates sharpened before every outing, while others keep their same edge for months at a time. So what causes these variations in sharpening requirements?
1. The alloy type of your skate blade
Some blades stay sharper longer because of the metal alloy they’re made from. A high quality carbon steel or stainless steel blade is tougher and stays sharp for longer. These tougher alloys resist abrasion—rough surfaces won’t damage this alloy as easily, which means fewer trips to the skate sharpener for you.
2. Your weight
There’s a reason lighter skaters end up at the sharpener’s shop more often. The blades of heavier skaters dig into the ice, providing a good grip and ability to stop without the benefit of freshly ground edges. Lighter skaters don’t have this advantage so they need their blades primed at all times in order to maintain a grip on the ice.
3. Your skill level
Many parents avoid sharpening their kids’ blades because they think their kids won’t be able to tell the difference. Unfortunately, trying to skate with dull blades actually makes it more difficult to learn to skate, and to improve at it because it is difficult to accelerate. Being a beginner at something is already hard enough without that added hurdle! Experienced skaters know to get their skates sharpened more regularly.
4. The temperature of the ice
The freezing level of the ice is a big factor in how your skates work. Warmer, more melted ice is actually harder to skate on for freshly sharpened skates, because they will just cut through it, leaving ruts and causing skaters to feel like they’re plowing along. However, on very cold, hard ice, sharpened skates are essential to allow the skater a grip.
5. Indoor or outdoor rinks
If you enjoy skating outdoors, you’ll need to get your skates sharpened more frequently. Outside rinks have sand, salt, rocks, and dust particles that inevitable end up on the ice, causing some abrasion to your skate blades. Indoor rinks are generally more free of these issues, meaning less damage to your skate blades.