Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Horror: Moldy Figure Skating Boots

Yesterday I hauled Ice Girl and Ice Friend through the snow to Milwaukee's Pettit National Ice Center and the Rainbo Sports pro shop.

Our mission: to exchange Ice Friend's old blades with Ice Coach's used blades.

The problem: mold and mildew.

Ice Friend bought her boots and blades a year ago at a different shop. The shop folks took her money and sent her on her way. Ice Friend had no idea that the untreated figure skate boot soles would trap moisture and encourage mold and mildew beneath her blades.

Ice Friend was ticked when she saw that mildew (the black stuff in the photo above). However, Renee at Rainbo said she'd take care of it, the mildew would be manageable, and Ice Friend's blade wouldn't fall off during a salchow.

When we bought Ice Girl's new boots, we waited an additional two weeks while Renee sealed the leather soles with marine-grade varnish and a bit of glitter. Varnish and careful drying of the boot and blade after ice time is the best way to make sure the darn things don't rot. That's Plan A for avoiding boot mildew.

Here's what Renee did for Plan B, the solution to Ice Friend's problem. Renee removed the blade (don't do this at home), dried out the soles with her heat ray gun (a hair dryer will do), blasted the can of Sno Seal with her heat ray to melt it, and then used a cheap foam craft brush to paint the entire sole, heel, and a bit of the white boot with the Sno Seal. She was generous with the amount. Renee let the Sno Seal dry and then wiped off the excess with paper towels. In the photo above, you can see Renee's heat ray, Ice Friend's mildewy boot, and the brush full of molten Sno Seal.

Renee mounted the new blades and sold Ice Friend a $5 can of Sno Seal, which Ice Friend is supposed to smear on her boots once a month. The leather soles are noticeably darker than the untreated leather, but stopping that mildew thing is a big bonus.

For the official directions, you can visit the Sno Seal people's official Web site here:


RedShamrock said...

Ewe! We are about to cave and put down what is big money for us $200+ for new skates. Don't know this price seems a bit excessive for a 7 yo so we may hold until May.

Anyway, I have not heard of anyone not walking out with their skates that afternoon. It is clear our approach is going to have to be different.

Thanks again for the news.

Jillybean said...

Another good thing to do is caulk around the edge of the blade and the screws. It works really well to keep the moisture out.

Ice Mom said...

Thanks, Jillybean! You're absolutely right - caulk is a terrific way to keep the water out of the holes and blade mounting areas. I forgot to mention that Renee did that for Ice Friend's boots, too - thanks for bringing it up!

NIUiceprincess said...

when i first bought my new skates two years ago, they were waterproofed and varnished with sno seal and stuff. eventually though that stuff wore off, and I noticed that the sole was rotting away on the part that the ice hits when doing lunges. I took them to my local pro shop (the other shop where I got the skates has since closed due to the economy, sad!, but this other shop is just as good, they are alway super busy with parents/kids waiting for service/fittings so good sign). I thought they would just sno seal it up again but they ended up applying "urethane seal" or so it says on the receipt. I also got the glitter "bedazzling" and even a sticker on each sole--the guy asked me if i wanted a sticker then he let me choose, i picked a cat cuz i have one--. but yeah so far the soles have been holding up well and i hope i don't have to get them redone for awhile, since the whole thing cost me $95! but better now than getting stuck buying new boots.

ShallowGal said...

Red Shamrock: You should look around your rink and see if you can buy some skated used. There are always tons of Riedell 280s in little girl sizes at my rink for @ $50.

Elisabeth said...

I've had sort of the opposite problem. I haven't skated in years, mostly because of this problem: I skated mostly barefoot, it was the most comfortable way for me. Gradually the leather sole inside my boots started curling up and hardening until it curled up so much that I suddenly had a rock hard curled sole up the middle of my foot. Incredible pain. Well, I'm getting back into skating soon and since I can't afford new boots on the outset, I finally tackled the old ones.

I had to take a hammer to get the sole off. The skates are still solidly held together but to make sure, I got some leather safe super-glue and sealed all the edges off. A $4 pair of insoles later and I have repaired my previously unusable $450 skates for a mere $5 and some change. Not bad.

But also taught me not to skate barefoot anymore!

Ice Mom said...

Wow, Elisabeth. I'm not sure Renee, my favorite skate tech, would agree with your methods, but whatever you've done sounds more comfortable than shriveled, hard leather. Good luck!