Friday, August 5, 2011

Hang on, I'm a bit Rusty...

This summer, for me and I'm sure for many of you in the US who are locked in the Heat Wave, has been a humid nightmare. What I didn't realize for skates was that all this humidity was wreaking havoc on our blades.

As in, despite my best care practices, they were getting rusty. Stitch's blades fared better than mine, a light film of rust. Mine, however, had big reddish patches that were leaking up onto the chromed portion of the blade. I'd take a soft scrubby thing to them before we went to the rink, but Stitch and I still had to do a few laps to work off the rust.

And we're not the only ones. Last weekend I saw a girl come of Synchro practice in tears, saying she simply could not skate. She lifted her foot and her blade was toepick to back, brown with rust. Parents and Rink Staff performed emergency triage, but there's not a lot to be done in a bad case like that.

Here's what happens on a Rusty Blade: You step on the ice, you push off and you get a face full of ice. There's just too much friction. It doesn't work.

Usually I can work off a light rust by doing those forward slalom things before I try any real stroking, but Stitch will declare the day a lost cause due to rust. Also, once rust gets a hold of something, it doesn't let go. The oxidation process starts, and it doesn't stop. According to this website,, a rusted blade will never hold an edge again.

Well, that's bad. Clearly, my Blade Care needed some advice. I headed over to the skate shop for a sharpening and to ask what to do.

I handed them my rusty blades, they asked about Stitch, we chatted nicely. For once, there was no one else in the store. I asked about rust prevention.

"Get some three in one oil, rub a light coat on the blade after drying. That will help."

Ah, of course! Oil keeps oxygen from getting to the blade and displaces water. And you won't need a lot, just a quick swipe. Perfect.

Still, don't put the blades in soakers right off the ice. Dry them first. Let them sit out while you do other stuff, then come back and dry them again. Think condensation on your cold drink cup. I got a paper towel soaked in 3 in 1, and put that in a ziplock bag. That will be plenty. Tonight, I'll give them a swipe after the second dry. Into the soakers they go for the trip home, and out they come when we get there.

Rust Prevention is easy, Rust Removal is impossible.

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