Ice-skate blades are made of steel for three reasons. First, because steel is immensely strong, hard and resistant to wear. Second, because it is a relatively low conductor of heat. And third, because it can be sharpened to a keen edge.
A skate blade has to resist tremendous pressure because it is hollow-ground, so that only the edges rest on the ice.
The smooth gliding movement associated with skating is made possible by a thin film of water on the ice produced by heat friction as the blade strikes the surface. As it is a relatively poor conductor of heat, the steel allows the heat to remain for a longer time at the edge of the blade, thus ensuring the necessary film of water.
There are specially designed blades for different kinds of ice-skating. The figure skater’s blade is hollow ground and curved with saw-like teeth at the toe to enable the skater to get a better grip on the ice when carrying out certain movements. The speed skater uses a thinner blade, about 16-17 inches long, sharpened, with a flat surface. This type of blade gives the racer a longer stroke.