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Blisters & Bone Bruises: Inline Speed Skate Boot Heat Molding

eebee's picture

The backs of my heels resemble barnacles stuck to a breakwater. It's time to heat-mold my skate boots!


After 44 odd miles at Tour de Lions a few weeks back, I didn't really want to skate any more until I felt sure I wouldn't feel skin tearing inside my boots, far from home. So Roadskater and I dug out his old hairdryer, a large patch of neoprene and some tight-fitting socks. 

The heat-molding method we used is also described here - not the oven method - using circular pads of neoprene about four-high, placed over the blister site (ouch!). We used the blowfryer to heat one of the boots to about 180 deg F, which took about 20 minutes. I didn't tape the neoprene pads to my feet but there was enough space to manipulate the pads into the right place once I got the boot on, using pain as my guide. I sat there grimacing for another 20 minutes while we heated the other boot. I managed to stand the pain for 40 minutes each foot. We took the boots out on my day-old raw blisters for a spin at Greensboro's Country Park and the right boot felt better, that is, it didn't feel like my blister even came into contact with any part of the boot at all. The left boot was still a problem and peeling skin off with my sock is not one of my favorite things to do in life.

Another skateless week has passed. However, I spent the afternoons heat-molding when I would normally have skated. I have repeated the same 20 minute heating procedure followed by a good 40 minutes boot cool-down period about four more times, socks stuffed with little mountains of neoprene. The fourth attempt at molding the left boot was the most successful, and I think something actually moved in the shape of the boot heel. After skating today I believe that one may be fixed. The right one is still dubious, but I only skated for an hour on a gently undulating course, rather than hills as steep as Country Park. The big test comes after about 90 minutes on bad-technique-hills (the really steep ones where grace goes to hell). 

We had a previous discussion about heat-molding, so check it out for more details and other people's experiences.

I think the lesson I'm supposed to learn here is: if at first heat-molding doesn't succeed - try, try again!


JonathanS's picture

heat molding and frame position

I haven't had any luck heat molding with the boot on. Everything got way to hot for my comfort level. So I would heat a spot, shape a little, let it cool, skate a little, repeat as needed. I remember being so scared the first time I took a heat gun to my new skates (yes I bought a heat gun, I'm a tool junkie). But with some patience it was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I had problems with my heels at first also. For those who haven't done this before, take if from a first time heat molder, go slow, make little changes, and like most things in life, it is not nearly as hard as it appears. On a different note, I have been having some pain in my arches. I tried some inserts for archs, some insoles, both only made the issue worse. Then, on a whim, I changed my frame position, moving the heel of the boot out on the frame. Viola, way better. Not only did I feel instantly more stable, but after 45 minutes, I still had no heel pain. And all along I thought the problem was in the boot. I would never have guessed that it had to do with frame position. Hope that helps somebody, probably not you eebee, so best of luck with the heat molding.
roadskater's picture

Hair Dryers, Heat Guns and Frame Positions

Thanks, eebee, for sharing your experience. The hair dryer takes longer but feels safer to me. With the right thermometer I'm sure the heat gun will be safe enough, but I also think the hair dryer can get the temp hot enough in most cases (180 degrees, maybe 200 degrees for some boots...check with your manufacturer's instructions). Thanks, JonathanS, for telling us what worked for you too. I really hope some people searching can find this information and that it helps them. I think it will. I think the hair dryer and mouse pad domes is the slow and careful way, as I've said, and the fact you had to go through several rounds of it may be the weakness of it. Still, you don't want those boots melting too much, indeed. I wrote an answer to a frame position and wheel size question yesterday for someone, so I'll try to post that here soon. Yes indeed frame position is incredible when you get it right. And remember you or your boots may not be the same on both sides. More to come in a new thread soon.
eebee's picture

Burnt Feet and Food

That reminds me, I did burn the sole of my left foot one day. The next time I wore thicker socks! That's great that you fixed your arch issues with a simple frame shift. I've had some Eureka! moments myself in that respect. My problem is I'm mostly too chicken to tighten the mounting bolts and the frames migrate back over time. You are among tool-junkies here! Silly diversion. I couldn't remember whether I should write 'burned' or 'burnt', so I did a split-second search and found a strange website called www.burntfoodmuseum.com: "Celebrating nearly two decades of culinary disaster". It's all very Yoko Ono-ish.

I will Keep at it

I have been trying to heat mold my boots since early Mach. And have been having linited success. I will try and build up a peice of a mouse pad, since that help with my las pair. Thanks for a link to the heat molding instructions.
eebee's picture

Mountains out of Mouse Pads

Hey Kensun - what heat molding method have you been using since March? I wanted to point out that I used a good 4 or 5 circles piled on top of each other, on my most successful attempt at the left boot. I even dug out a sewing kit - gasp - and put a stitch or two in to keep the pads together, so they'd create a more solid bump to push out the boot. Keep trying! Hamburger feet are just no fun at all.
roadskater's picture

Keep Trying Kensun...More Heat, More Pressure

You might try a Google search for the brand and model of your boots with the words "heat molding instructions" added. And of course try the website of your brand too. See below for Powerslide.

Different brands and models have different material and different melting points, so this is good info to have. If you decide to use the oven method don't walk away for anything!

Aside from that, I remember timv said he

  • put the thermometer inside the boot,
  • put a towel at the top of the boot to keep the heat in, and
  • heated the outside of the heel part of the boot, avoiding the colorful faux leather and buckles and such, because you don't want to melt or discolor those things.

That way he knew the carbon material was hot all the way through.

Here are some previous articles from roadskater.net, including InlineNC references that mention heat molding and other boot and frame issues...

You can find that article and more by using the search box on roadskater.net, or this search link...notice the technique of building a search url too (OR and AND in caps) if you like doing that...

My tendency is caution with all of this. Only heat the area you need to. If it's the ankle, I heat from inside because I don't want to disfigure the outside. Slow changes are good since you'll know you haven't drastically altered the cant of the mounts and other crazy stuff somehow, like loosening the bolt mounts!

Most of all don't give up because skating should be mostly pain free, except for muscles and lack of oxygen and maybe a few falls here and there.

These PDF documents have some interesting ideas, some of which are contradictory, some of which are just hype, but they're worth scanning, especially if you're interested in Powerslide (but not just for that)...

Hope this helps.

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