Ice skating is a very popular form of art, especially for hockey players. However, real ice is difficult to maintain and keep frozen throughout the year. Another popular media for ice skating is synthetic ice. Although since it first came into the public eye in the 1960s it was pretty awful, these days artificial ice is very high tech and much like real ice for skaters. Will it damage ice skating blades? It all depends on how you look at it. You might be surprised at what can cause more damage.
Synthetic Ice Surface
At the beginning of the synthetic ice journey, the plastic flooring had to be covered with lubricants in order for skaters to successfully glide across the surface. This was quite a bit of work for people to keep up with. The surface was quirky and not near smooth like ice, but it was able to handle skaters in its own lunky way.
As time progressed, developers and scientists alike kept pushing at the idea of being able to create an artificial ice flooring that could allow skaters the same freedom as real ice. Now, in the days of technology, synthetic ice is available in small panels with self-lubricating properties that were never imagined before. Just as ice blades cause heat and friction over the ice to make a small amount of water present as a lubricant, modern-day synthetic ice has built-in lubricants that are activated when the skate’s blades come into contact with it. This way a nice, smooth-skating experience is possible with the least amount of drag.
Ice Skating Blades
The blades that are attached to ice skates are made primarily of metal. For the optimum skating experience, they must be sharpened and properly adjusted to fit the needs of the individual skater. If the blades are out of shape it can cause the skates to drag and be less effective. When they are sharpened and honed into the perfect shape for the skater, they glide across the flooring like a dream.
What Causes Wear on Blades
Wear and tear on ice skating blades can happen for a plethora of reasons. Mainly it is coming into contact with objects that can weaken or dull the edge of the blades. Since the blades are sharpened down to a point, anything that is strong enough to penetrate that point and cause damage can be a culprit to blade damage. In the scenario where people are skating on real ice, there can be a number of problems that cause damage and wear on skate blades. As skates glide over the surface, over time, they leave traces of metal from the blades that stay in the ice. After a while of buildup from these traces of metal and even small rocks, the surface of the ice can become hard and full of buildup. This, in itself, can ultimately cause more damage than synthetic ice, which can actually be mopped up and cleaned regularly.
Polymer Plastic is Soft
Most of the synthetic ice that is on the market today is made out of polymer plastic. Although the blades run across the plastic and can scuff up the flooring at times, there is no buildup of minerals, and the flooring remains soft and safe for the ice skate blades. In all truth, there is more of a threat to the health of ice skating blades on real ice, than there is on synthetic ice. Although over time ice blades can become dull after continual use, any actual damage because of synthetic ice, is not common. It all boils down to the quality of the synthetic ice when it comes to what kind of damage is possible because of skating on it.
Most of the damage that happens to ice skate blades is when they are used to walk across the flooring of the skate place to and from the rink. When the blades come into contact with concrete, or hard surfaces with rocks and other hard little problems they can get bent or dented and even broken. If the skates are strictly kept on the rink, whether it is synthetic or actual ice, they will last longer and not suffer as much damage.