This article is designed to help people bake skates in the comfort of their own home. Before we start, though, I do want to highlight one thing: If possible, use a pro shop! Skate ovens at pro shops are specially designed to minimize the possibility of anything going wrong during the baking process. While this same effect can be achieved at home, there are far more opportunities for you to screw up and damage your skates. And damaging your skates is a real risk here if you do things improperly. Proceed with caution. With that said, there are still people who don’t have this opportunity, either because they don’t live near a pro shop, or the only one around charges excessive prices ($10-15 is reasonable, $40 is not). This article is mainly written for these people. With that in mind, let’s begin!
Verify oven’s temperature
If possible, buy an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is doing what you want it to – some ovens run hotter or cooler than what they say, which can adversely affect the baking process. Something like this would cost no more than $10, and stays right in the oven for easy monitoring. This way, you can account for these variations when setting the temperature. I’m using a candy thermometer here, which does the same thing but doesn’t stay in the oven.
Set oven to 20F above the skate’s recommended baking temperature on Convection mode – This extra heat will make up for the later steps where the oven cools off before the skate goes in. If your skates don’t come with specific baking instructions, 210F should work well. Using your oven’s convection feature is also important. The increased airflow will ensure there are no hot or cold spots that could affect the baking process.
Mise en place
This phrase gets used a lot in the cooking world, and it’s very appropriate here as well. It roughly translates to ‘everything in its place,’ and it means that before you start doing anything else, you should have everything you need ready to go, and within arm’s reach. When your skates are in the oven and ready to come out, that’s not the time to be running around the house looking for something to protect your kitchen floor. Make sure you’ve gathered the following things while the oven preheats:
- Oven thermometer (already in the oven, hopefully)
- Skates – unlaced enough that your foot easily slides in without requiring force
- Large baking sheet
- Oven mitts
- Skate-safe floor mat
- Skate socks (on your feet)
Turn oven off
Typically, oven elements will reach a higher temperature than the oven is actually set to, and this can cause damage if they’re allowed to shine directly onto the skate. The skate ovens in hockey shops solve this problem by putting the heating elements in a separate chamber at the back and circulating the hot air using fans, but that’s not an option with most home ovens. Instead, turn the oven off once temperature is reached, and wait a minute or so for the element to cool back down to the right temperature. Don’t open the door yet.
Skates on the baking sheet
Don’t put your skates directly on the rack. Lay them sideways on the baking sheet. If you can’t fit them both at the same time, just do one at a time but don’t cut any corners the second time around!
Bake until golden brown
Put the baking sheet on the center rack, and make sure the skates aren’t touching anything except that sheet. At this point, start your timer. Your skates should come with directions on how long they should be baked. Follow the time limit specified – if not, 3-4 minutes is a good, safe estimate. While going over time is possible on some skates, I would suggest exercising caution here unless you know exactly what you’re doing and are willing to take on that additional risk.
Put them on, tie them up
Take one skate out of the oven first, slip it on your foot, and lace it up with a moderate level of tightness. Then do the same for the other one. Very important – always pull straight outwards on the eyelets when the skates are warm! Never pull up, down, or at an angle. When the skate is warm, the eyelets can rip out from the boot easily if tightened the wrong way. Yes, this means they won’t be as tight as they’ll be when you play hockey, and that’s okay.
Sit until cooled
The eyelets still need to be treated gently until the skate fully cools, otherwise they risk being damaged. The easiest and most effective way to do this is to sit still for approximately 10-15 minutes, with your knees and ankles at 90 degree angles. If you want slightly more aggressive molding, it is alright to stand for the first minute – but do not walk around, bend your knees, or flex your ankles forward. This will put stress on the eyelets.
Once the skates are off your feet, do not use them immediately. Even if they’re cool, the adhesives still need to set again, and this takes time. 24hrs is a safe length of time, but you can skate on them after 12 if needed.
Where to get a deal on skates
If you’re one of the unlucky souls who needs to order skates online, and bake skates at home because you don’t have a good hockey shop nearby, I’ve got a few links for you. Some of these are affiliate links which help support this site and the writers.
If you’ve got a sweet pair of top-of-the-line, just released, pro level, $1000 skates you could seriously mess them up if you are not careful. Don’t start browsing facebook, or sit down for a second to watch some Netflix, terribly horrible things could happen to your precious skate. If you can bare it, just scroll down to see.
Home skate baking gone WRONG
You’ve been warned ?
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Can I bake my hockey skates at home?
Some skates will come with specific instructions regarding temperature and time of baking. If not, you’ll find home -bakers recommending anything from 175 to 210 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it is preheated, turn it off. Bake for three to four minutes, unless the manufacturer specifies a time.
What temperature do you bake skates at?
Baking them in the Oven. Pre-heat your oven to 175 °F (79 °C). To get the skate material to loosen you need to heat it so that the molecules soften, but the materials don’t come apart. 175 °F (79 °C) is the ideal temperature for this process as it won’t be hot enough to melt any plastic on the skate.
Can you bake used hockey skates?
Can I re- bake to my feet? Unless they’re starting to break down (lose a lot of stiffness) already from the previous owner, you should be fine. However, if a skate is already very well- worn, rebaking can cause it to get too soft. Higher-end skates also tend to be able to handle more bakes.
Should I bake my hockey skates?
It is important to note that baking is NOT a necessary process. In fact, some players prefer the traditional way of breaking in skates which is to simply wear them. Additionally, recreational skates do not carry enough stiffness to need ‘breaking in’, and baking can wear materials down to provide less support.
What skates can be baked?
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.
Can I bake my Bauer skates at home?
Use the oven mitt to place the skate inside the oven, and make sure the skate is not touching anything but the baking sheet. Close the oven quickly to keep the heat trapped inside. Let the skates sit in the oven for approximately five minutes. Take off the skates and loosely tie them without the feet inside.
Can you bake skates twice?
Each time you bake a skate, it can accelerate the breakdown process of the skate. Most modern skates are meant to only be baked once or twice. Anything further can start doing more harm than good.
Can you bake skates after wearing them?
Yes, you can still bake them.
How do you break in skates at home?
Once pre-heating is complete, turn off the oven and place one of your skates on a standard baking sheet before placing it directly on the center of the oven rack. Let it bake for six to eight minutes and watch the skate for any breakdown or splitting of the material before removing it.
How do you bake skates with a hair dryer?
If you don’t have access to a hockey pro shop with a skate oven then a hair blow dryer works fairly well and provides a safe alternative. Just point it into the boot on low heat for 10-12 minutes and the materials should become warm enough to do the trick.
How do I soften my hockey skates?
Put the skate (or skates if you’ve got room) in the oven for around 4-5 minutes. Keep your eyes on them – don’t be tempted to do something else and forget about them. After 4-5 minutes take your skate out of the oven and give them a squeeze. They should be noticeably softer than when they went in.
Why are hockey skates so uncomfortable?
Hockey Skates Aren’t Broken In One of the biggest causes for uncomfortable hockey skates comes from them not being broken in. When you first get a pair of hockey skates, they will be very stiff and tight. Skating in the new skates will mold them to your feet and soften the material.
How do you bake hockey skates at home?
Preheat an oven to 180 degrees. Pull the tongues outward from the skate boots and lay both skates on their sides on a baking sheet. Place the skates in the oven for no more than 10 minutes.
How do you bake in true skates?
Place skate in heat molding oven at 180 degrees for 10 minutes. Using a shoe horn, place customer’s foot (sock on) in skate. As foot goes in the skate, pull tongue back out. Have customer bang heel into skate to make sure heel sucks back into heel pocket.
You’ve got a bag full of brand new equipment and you’re ready to get out on the ice to show everyone what you’re made of. Just one problem: your new skates are so stiff you can barely feel your ankles.
You think about returning them to the store, assuming you can find the jaws of life to get them off your feet. But there are a few simple steps to help you break in those skates.
Buy the right skates
It won’t necessarily make your feet hurt less when it comes time to lace them up, but spending time making the proper selection can help you out in the long term.
While buying skates online offers great convenience, going to the store in person will allow you to try on a variety of skates. In the end, you’re more likely to find the perfect fit for your foot. Some stores and skate brands also offer special inserts that can help you find the right fit.
“The fit is the most important thing. Making sure the skate isn’t too wide or too short form front to back,” said T.J. McMeniman, Bauer’s Senior Global Brand Manager. “Some players like skates that are a bit shorter so their toes are a little crunched. You want your toe to just feather at the very tip of the skate.”
If you buy your skates in a specialty hockey shop, don’t hesitate to ask questions and see if it’s possible to get any adjustments made. Some skate shops may even throw in free sharpenings and adjustments over the life your skates.
Heat and Bake
One of the most popular in-store adjustments involves using heat. If they prefer not to do it at the store, some people use a hair dryer, which can be applied to the boot of the skate for 2-3 minutes before trying the skate on to mold it to their foot. Some specialty shops even offer to help you “bake” your skate before you leave the store, so feel free to ask about that.
Power Skating Part 1 – Stance, Stride
More adventurous players can even use the convention oven in their kitchen (with parental permission and supervision, of course). Start by pre-heating the oven to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Prep your skate by loosening its laces enough so that you won’t have to worry about placing your foot in once you’re done. Once pre-heating is complete, turn off the oven and place one of your skates on a standard baking sheet before placing it directly on the center of the oven rack.
Let it bake for six to eight minutes and watch the skate for any breakdown or splitting of the material before removing it. When you take it out, the boot should be noticeably softer when you squeeze it.
“We highly recommend when you purchase our product that you have the local retailer heat up the skate for a couple of minutes in the oven and let the skate mold on your foot for about 15 to 20 minutes,” said McMeniman. “Don’t walk around, you just want to sit there and let it mold to your foot to give it a customized fit.”
Bear in mind that too much heat can potentially result in a premature breakdown of the boot of your skate. Some players also just prefer to break in skates the more natural way.
The Hard Way
As with most tasks, there is no substitute for hard work when it comes to breaking in new skates. There are a few short cuts, but there’s nothing quite like molding a skate to your foot by simply lacing up and taking the ice, which is ideally what you want to do anyways.
The first skate will definitely be arduous and your feet will likely feel sore both during and after. But by your third skate you should notice greater ease when putting on and using your skates. By the time you’ve enjoying about a half-dozen skates, you should notice a clear difference when it comes time to finding a snug fit when you lace up.
However you decide to break in your new skates, you should start noticing a difference with a few basic steps. Then you can worry about more important things, like winning hockey games.
By: Kirk Maltbee
Published: 25 July, 2010
Hockey players used to soak the boots of new skates in water in an effort to quickly break them in. These days, ice hockey and roller hockey players employ a different method – baking their skates. Due to the materials used in modern skates, they can be “baked” for a few minutes in specialized ovens to improve fit. Alternately, most roller hockey skates, like ice skates, can be baked at home in a standard oven.
Remove the laces from the skates and set them aside. Use the Allen wrench to loosen the axles on each wheel on the skates, then slide the axles out of the wheels and pull the wheels from the chassis. Set aside.
Preheat an oven to 180 degrees. Pull the tongues outward from the skate boots and lay both skates on their sides on a baking sheet. Place the skates in the oven for no more than 10 minutes.
Check the ankle foams periodically; if they’re sufficiently soft, meaning your fingers slightly sinks into the foam, take the skates out before the 10 minute time limit expires.
Put the skates on (wear socks to prevent accidental burns) and lace the skates, pulling outward to tighten versus pulling upward to prevent touching the metal eyelets, which are still very hot. After lacing the skates, sit while wearing the skates with your feet (the chassis) on the floor for 2 or 3 hours to allow the materials to conform to your foot shape. Remove the skates and replace the wheels using the Allen wrench.
Things you’ll needs
- Oven gas or electric
- Baking tray
- Oven gloves or something to remove the skates from oven after the baking process
The skate baking process may resolve some of your fit issues i.e. sore spots inside the skates or general discomfort from skating in a new pair of hockey skates. It may also help to reduce the break in time of a new pair of hockey skates giving a better fitting skate.
It’s important to mention that you don’t need to do this, it’s an optional process. Some skaters will prefer to break their skates in the more traditional way (repeated use). If this process is not done correctly, it could result in a premature degeneration or break down of the skate.
In this tutorial we’ll be going over how to heat your skates up so the materials are soft and mouldable from home using a standard oven gas or electric. You’ll need to double check the temperature your skates need to be baked at and also the length of time, some skates have a slightly different processes than others.
Preparing the oven
Make sure there is enough room to place the baking tray and skate in the oven without the skate coming into contact with anything but the baking sheet.
(In the case of the Mission Fuel AGX ) Pre heat the oven at 180 degrees , get the skates ready by undoing the laces, make sure you will be able to get your foot in easily and quickly, while the skates are soft and warm nice and ready to mold.
Once the oven is preheated turn it off as you don’t want direct heat on the skate, you only want to surround the skate in a uniform temperature, this ensures the skate is in a controlled heated environment which will get the materials soft and not destroy the skate.
Check how stiff the skates are
It would be recommended to check the stiffness of the skate before you place it in the oven, once it comes out the oven, you should notice a drastic change and the skate will be much softer than when it went in. This is an indication that the skate is done and ready to put on. Now place the skate on the baking tray and place it in the oven, making sure the skate comes into contact with just the baking tray and nothing else (you don’t want to burn it).
The Mission Fuel AGX require 7 minutes at 180 degrees , regardless of how long your skates require, it’s a great idea to check on them half way through the process to make sure there ok.
Checking on the skates half way through
Make sure you don’t see any materials separating, at this point you might be able to slightly smell the materials of the skate, that is normal so don’t worry. You need to close the oven door quickly after checking on them as you don’t want to much heat escaping from the oven. Be sure not to touch the inside of the oven or the skate eyelets and blades, they’ll be very hot.
End of the process
Take the skates out (see how soft there are)put the skates on while being careful not to touch the blade or eyelets ( hot ) You also need to put the skates on while their hot and at the optimal temperature of heat molding.
Put the skates on and allow them to mold
Keep the skates on for 15minutes to allow the heat molding properties to mold (don’t walk around with them on). If you feel the skates are slightly narrow, feel free to stand up as this allows your feet to spread out giving it slightly more width. You can kick the back of your heels against the floor to place them further back into the skate.
After the 15 minutes take off the skates, re-lace them and leave them upright to cool down for 24hour s before skating on them, this ensures the materials have hardened after heat molding (in their new shape) and are ready to skate on.
Is there anything better than opening a brand new pair of skates? All you want to do is toss them on, and fly around your local rink. In reality, there’s a few steps you should really take before you throw your feet in those things and go to town. In this video, we’re going to show you step one of how to best fit your skates to you and your body.
First things first, you can bake your skates in your own oven at home. However, I wouldn’t suggest it (nor would Glen), because you can ruin your skates if you don’t know what you’re doing. Glen uses a cold oven, which puts every piece of the skate to about 200 degrees and makes it very mold-able. The obvious advantage to baking your skate is so that it can mold around your feet, fit tight, and give you the support that you need to skate well, and comfortably.
The cheaper the skate, the less mold-able material you’ll find inside. If you’re buying your skates at a big box store for $100, I wouldn’t suggest baking them at all; they won’t mold to your foot. The mid-range skates will have a mold-able gel in them, that will mold and stay tight to your foot if done properly. The top of the line skates will (sometimes – like my Bauers) have an entirely mold-able boot, meaning the whole skate (except the blade) will mold to my foot’s size and shape. That will lead to ultimate comfort, and ultimate use of my power to make my skating better. Many skates also have custom footbeds that are mold-able, but we’ll get to that in the next video.
Glen then sits me down and throws on my molded skate, and walks me through the dos and don’ts of skate molding, which are pretty straight forward.
- Pull out on your laces
- Try to have someone at the shop lace your skates
- Wait 10 minutes for the skate to cool and mold
- Stand up while your skate is molding
- Flex your foot forward or backward while your skate is molding
- Put pressure anywhere on the skate while it is molding
You likely will feel a little bit of pain for your first few times on the ice with new/molded skates. Your foot has to adjust to the new feeling, and likely your previous skates were old, and not as good, which is why you upgraded. Your foot needs to learn the feeling of this new skate, just like you do. Glen suggests going back to see your pro shop if you’re still feeling pain during your fourth time on the ice.
Check out the next two videos in this series to see more of how to customize your new skates:
“Baking,” another term for the heat molding process, provides the player with the opportunity to further improve the fit of their skate. The process involves heating the skates at a high temperature, followed by tightly tying the laces with the foot inside the boot. After the player sits with the bottom of the blades against a soft surface for about 15 minutes, the boots will have molded to the shape of player’s feet. This process helps reduce the break-in period for new skates that have a very stiff boot. It is important to note that baking is NOT a necessary process. In fact, some players prefer the traditional way of breaking in skates which is to simply wear them.
Discount Hockey suggests ‘baking’ ice hockey skates when purchasing intermediate to advanced level skates. Recreational and beginner skates are not recommended because the bake would make the lifespan of the skate much shorter. Additionally, recreational skates do not carry enough stiffness to need ‘breaking in’, and baking can wear materials down to provide less support.
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3 Comments for “What Is “Skate Baking” And Is It Necessary?”
paul on Jul 28, 2017
I see in this article that you do not recommend baking beginner skates. Now what about a youth bauer x900
Ian on Jan 12, 2015
Customers purchase the best skates in order to receive the best performance. Top-end skates that are stiffer will likely give the skater more discomfort in the beginning than a lower-end model because of the change in materials. When the higher-end skates are new, the inside of the skate will not likely shape their foot the way they would like it. By shaping very stiff boots to mold to the feet quickly the skater can comfortably perform all of his or her manuevers without pain. This means that the heat speeds up the process in which the skates would mold to the feet. Skates that are not top-end will most likely feature quarter packages that are not as stiff. Stiffness is key to high-end skates because of the pressure from turns. Lower-end skates don’t offer as much stiffness because if a skate is too stiff then the materials do not bend enough to allow the skater to comfortably learn proper technique. This means that by baking a low-end model you risk losing some of that stiffness and support that it gives you to improve.
Wysiwyg Mtwzzyzx on Dec 5, 2014
So, it’s o.k. to bake and break down the materials in your expensive good skates, but don’t do it to your cheap entry level skates? I understand the better skates with better materials will hold up better, but why rush to break them down?
I think maybe it’s best reserved for kids skates since they’re going to grow out of them before they destroy them anyway…
Baking, also called heat molding, a new pair of hockey skates can be a great way to get them broken in more quickly. Yes, that’s right, you will actually put your skates in a heated oven and let them bake a la cookies.
By baking your hockey skates, it can help ensure the skates fit your feet better and therefore hurt less as you begin wearing them. As a result of baking, your hockey skates will feel more comfortable and be functional in a matter of minutes.
That being said, make sure you are careful in following the instructions for baking your skates below. If you don’t get it right, you can risk ruining your brand-new skates.
How To Bake Your Hockey Skates
1. Preheat your oven to 175°F. This has been proven to be the optimum temperature because it softens the upper of the skate boot without melting the plastic. At this temperature it will soften the molecules, but the materials
won’t start to separate.
2. Once the oven has been kept at 175°F for 15 minutes, turn the oven off. This will keep a constant temperature, but without additional heat hitting the surface of the boot.
3. Loosen the tongue of one skate, pulling it forward so there is plenty of room. If you don’t do this, you will have a tougher job when it comes to molding the skate. Then place it on a baking tray.
4. Put the baking tray into the center of the oven. Bake the skate for a maximum of eight minutes. Around six minutes, quickly open the door and feel the surface of the skate. If it hasn’t softened, go for the whole eight minutes.
How To Mold Your Hockey Skates
Once the hockey skate is heated to the level that the upper material is soft when pressed, remove it from the oven and then go through the steps below to mold it to your foot.
1. First make sure that you are already wearing the socks that you will normally wear when you skate. This is important because the thickness of the sock will affect the molded fit. If you don’t wear your normal hockey socks, you won’t get a true fit.
2. Take the skate out of the oven and sit down on a chair. You need to do this quickly, because obviously heat is escaping from the boot every second.
3. Push the tongue as far forward as you can, and then put your foot into the skate. Make sure that when your foot is inside, it is pushed flat against the bottom, and that your heel is flat against the rear of the boot.
4. Pull the tongue back into its natural position, and then proceed to lace up the skate. Don’t over tighten the laces, lace it up in a way that feels natural to you. If you over-tighten the laces, you could create a mold that doesn’t fit if you tie them more loosely in the future.
5. Leave the boot on for 15 minutes until it has cooled. While it is cooling on your foot, gently move your feet within the boot, especially sliding the foot back, so the front of the blade is facing down onto the floor. This will help to mold it into the shape you will make when skating.
6. Gently unlace the boot and remove it from your foot. Then lace it up again to keep it in shape. Leave it to cool thoroughly for a few hours.
All you have to do then is to repeat the process with your other hockey skate, and you are good to go.
If you’re looking for a video on how to bake hockey skates, then this You Tube video below is really great. It’s clear, and explains the whole process we have explained here, but with great visuals.
What has your experience been with baking skates? Do you always do it or prefer breaking your skates in the natural way? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!