Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ain't no cure for the summer time blues--or is there?

I don't know about you but after an energetic skating session the insides of my boots are good and sweaty.  Maybe it's a guy thing.  Maybe I just have sweaty feet.  Don't know.  In winter this is usually not a problem since in between skating sessions I take my skates out of the bag and open up the laces while they "rest" in our heater room.  With the utility room door closed and the gas heater cycling at regular intervals, the interior of the boots usually dry out by the next morning.  However, now we're in spring here in central Maryland.  The heater is off but we haven't turned the air conditioner on yet.  Spring is nice and green and humid. I skate four to five times per week and my boots most times are still damp the next time I put them on, but the worse thing is that this is the time of year that they get mungy (might be a word) smelling.  If other people can smell me coming that's their problem, but when I can smell my own equipment it's problematic for me!  In the past I've tried baking soda and a house-hold product called febreze. Neither one worked well in my hands.  The baking soda simply caked inside my moist boots and then got all over my socks the next time.  As for the febreze, the boots still smelled like stinky boots but ones now parked in a vaguely scented meadow.  Yep, in both cases the boots still smelled and took forever to dry out.  This year I decided I'd needed to do better.

I started out by calling the folks who made my boots.
If you live in North America you can call up Jackson: 800.263.1666 and talk with their tech peeps.  I asked if I could use a typical boot drier with electric heating elements, like the ones used to dry out wet hiking boots or cycling shoes.  My concern with that approach was that the drier might not be consistent with heat moldable skating boots.  The nice lady fielding my call put me on hold for a few minutes and  came back to say that her supervisor didn't think that this was a good idea.  She then asked me if I'd tried baking soda.  When I told her that I had and didn't like the results her reply was that everyone has this problem and to have a nice day!  So much for the manufacturer.  They probably gave me the correct information but it didn't add up to a solution for the problem.  My next step was to go to my local sporting goods store (Sports Authority) and ask for their advice.

The products above are what I came home with.
The Sneaker Balls are the same strategy one might find in a powder room; basically an "air-wick" type substance enclosed within a plastic sphere.  You twist the ball to open the vents and drop one into each boot.  The vents on the sides permit the contents to volatilize and diffuse within the moist boot.  The Fresh Fogger is an athletic take on febreze.  Neither product will dry the interior of the boots and it remains to be seen (or smelled) if either one has a leg up on febreze.  In the end I just may go ahead and see if there's a boot drier that has a temperature setting.  Ideally, what one wants is just a smidgeon of warmth to complement a fan blowing air into the boots.  Too much heat and the boots will lose their shape.

Now if any of my readers has cracked this nut I'd love to hear what works in the comments box.  I promise not to make any snide jokes about your smelly skates!


  1. My skates generally reek because I skate barefoot. T found the expensive stink-eez product sold by skate stores worked better than the dr. Schols smell product that looks like the sports balls.

    Never leave them in a hot car, make sure to take them out of a bag to dry. You could try a hair blower to dry them, but honestly that is going to make the room you do that in stink (I use a heat gun to warm my boots in the winter. Hot boots smell worse)

    What about a satchet if gel silica to help dry them?

  2. I hadn't thought of the silica gel approach. I could also try "drierite" which is a desiccant based on calcium sulfate. The nice thing about drierite is that it comes in several forms, one of which contains a small amount of a moisture indicator (cobalt chloride) which changes color--when the drierite is blue it's dry, but when it turns pink it has absorbed all the moisture it can. When that happens you can regenerate it by baking it in a hot oven (~450 degrees for an hour or so) to drive off the moisture. In the process the drierite turns blue again.

    Thanks for the feed back--you provoked my brain cells to remember old lessons from basic chemistry! I'll have to see how this works. Getting back to your suggestion of silica gel, I think some kitty litters are made of silica gel while others are mixtures of silica and benonite clay--all of these should be good desiccants.