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cakedecorator1968

Spraying Chocolate: Equipment, Materials, and Techniques

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On 3/21/2018 at 8:36 AM, Jim D. said:

Thanks for that information. I don't see any reason why my Grex airbrush (or any airbrush, for that matter) can't do the same. I have a pressure regulator installed between the hose from the compressor and the airbrush itself, so changing the pressure is easy. I will have to try again. I tried the spraying with a wooden stick or spatula between the brush and the mold to create splatter, but it is erratic (I have seen it done successfully in person, so I know it's just a matter of technique). I think the drop-cocoa-butter-from-the-bottle-and-spray-it-into-the-mold technique would be something that would take (for me) a lot of practice. Sad to confess, but the best I have done so far has been with a toothbrush.

Jim I was watching a video on Savour tonight where the chef did a splatter on some eggs. He simply dipped his airbrush into the CCB and did a quick spray. He did not put any CCB in the cup. It is something worth trying

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6 hours ago, dhardy123 said:

Jim I was watching a video on Savour tonight where the chef did a splatter on some eggs. He simply dipped his airbrush into the CCB and did a quick spray. He did not put any CCB in the cup. It is something worth trying

Thanks for that intriguing idea. So he dipped the head of the airbrush into the CCB? Did you see if he lowered the pressure? I'm glad you mentioned Savour because it reminds me that I am going to sign up for the videos when I have some free time in the near future. Do you think this video is part of the Savour online courses?

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On 3/21/2018 at 3:42 AM, Rajala said:

I would say that I used maybe 1 cl per colour, and that was enough for two moulds, leaving a little bit left in the paint container.

I must confess I had to look up what a "cl" is and discovered it that is less than 1/3 of a fluid ounce. That's practically nothing. I am quite surprised that so little cocoa butter works. But I imagine that cleaning out the container is quite a job--compared to the little cup on an airbrush. Is there some setting on the HVLP itself for lowering the pressure and/or doing splatter, or was this just experimentation on your part? I don't think manufacturers of HVLPs probably foresaw this use of their product!

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19 hours ago, Jim D. said:

Thanks for that intriguing idea. So he dipped the head of the airbrush into the CCB? Did you see if he lowered the pressure? I'm glad you mentioned Savour because it reminds me that I am going to sign up for the videos when I have some free time in the near future. Do you think this video is part of the Savour online courses?

Yes he just dipped the head in. I couldn’t tell if he lowered the pressure. It is part of the online series. He actually made a large white chocolate egg, unmolded it, splattered it and then used his finger to do a light painting of a different CCB. He then filled the egg with mousse and sorbet. It was for a plated dessert but still the idea looked intriguing and I may also try it this weekend 

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21 hours ago, Jim D. said:

I must confess I had to look up what a "cl" is and discovered it that is less than 1/3 of a fluid ounce. That's practically nothing. I am quite surprised that so little cocoa butter works. But I imagine that cleaning out the container is quite a job--compared to the little cup on an airbrush. Is there some setting on the HVLP itself for lowering the pressure and/or doing splatter, or was this just experimentation on your part? I don't think manufacturers of HVLPs probably foresaw this use of their product!

 

Remember that I used three colors. So it would be 3 cl in total. Or 1 fluid ounce, I guess? :) 

 

It's easy to clean out since it's quite large. I use a dish brush and it's all good. The HVLP have a little button that you can turn, which regulates the airflow that passes through it. I had that at almost 0.

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If it was the one by @tikidoc - not sure if here or Facebook. She linked to a spot where they used a plastic garden shed to make one. I have the garden shed, the fan - now I just need the round tuit.

 

Here is is

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19 minutes ago, gfron1 said:

Gang - I'm trying to find the topic where someone showed how to build a spray booth. Maybe its just buried in this thread, but I thought it had its own. Does anyone know where that is?

Kerry beat me to it. There are also some very helpful Youtube videos on this subject--they range from a very professional build to using a cardboard box. I took the latter route, adapting tikidoc's technique with a home heating system filter and a very powerful fan. If you have the option of venting to the outside (which I don't without spending a large amount of money), then, of course, that is much better. I do not qualify as a health fanatic, but I also use a 3M-made respirator.

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6 hours ago, gfron1 said:

I thought there was one with a wooden frame up, a box fan and a heater filter. I built one so I must have seen it somewhere.

 

Is this it? (Scroll down a few posts.)

 

 


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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So glad I stumbled onto this forum.

 

I've experimented in the past with airbrushing cocoa butter into chocolate molds in the past with unpredictable results - sometimes they came out great sometimes not. I figured it was probably the fact that I had cheap equipment (I had been experimenting with the badger bottom-feed gun hooked up to a can of compressed air).

 

I recently bought a small compressor on Amazon (gets up to 60 PSI) and a 0.5mm top-feed airbrush gun. I thought this would take me into the big leagues! But...I'm having so much trouble getting the cocoa butter to spray out of the airbrush gun. It's tempered I've made sure that the gun is warm - there are no clogs. I started with a 0.3mm gun and decided I needed a larger aperture; and thus upgraded to the 0.5mm. 

 

Any tips? I've heard some say that you need more pressure (maybe > 60 PSI?) and then I've seen videos where they recommend 30-35PSI. 

 

When I press the button on the airbrush gun, air comes out, but very very little cocoa butter. If I "pump" the trigger, it comes out in little bursts, but not consistently.

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@RJ23 how are you keeping the airbrush warm?  The metal parts all need to be above 85f-90f so the cocoa butter stays melted and can drip down. 

 

I’ve been spraying molds the last few days with similar issues, used a hairdryer aimed at the bottom of the paint cup to make sure everything was flowing. 

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Yes, I used a heat gun (carefully) to keep the metal gun warm. Definitely no clogging. I wondered if the aperture was large enough, but other have said the 0.5mm was the perfect size.

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14 minutes ago, RJ23 said:

Yes, I used a heat gun (carefully) to keep the metal gun warm. Definitely no clogging. I wondered if the aperture was large enough, but other have said the 0.5mm was the perfect size.

This is a very common issue (and why I have mostly switched to an HVLP gun, which doesn't cool down so quickly). It can be cocoa butter crystallizing where you can't easily get at it (between bottom of container and the airbrush passages), or it can be a particle of solid cocoa butter clogging a crucial passageway (0.5mm is a very small opening--to state the obvious). If you have a probe thermometer (such as a Thermapen), stick it into the container all the way, stir the cocoa butter to make sure it is still liquid, and check its temp. I have found innumerable times that I was very sure the cocoa butter was fine only to discover from the Thermapen that the temp was too low at the very bottom of the cup and the cocoa butter had begun to crystallize. Once I applied the heat gun more than I thought prudent, the flow resumed. All that being said, spraying cocoa butter with an airbrush is a challenging operation. Finally, what is the temp of your airbrushing space? Although many people who get superb results (such as @gfron1) keep their area quite cool, it is a fact that if your temp is very far below 68-70F, your cocoa butter is going to solidify more quickly.

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The HVLP gun has a larger aperture? Can I still hook it up to a ~60PSI compressor, or would I need something larger?

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9 minutes ago, RJ23 said:

The HVLP gun has a larger aperture? Can I still hook it up to a ~60PSI compressor, or would I need something larger?

HVLP guns do tend to have larger needles, and thus they give faster coverage. A bigger reason that I like them, however, is that they hold more cocoa butter and don't cool down so quickly. With an airbrush, sometimes I couldn't even finish one mold without using the heat gun. With an HVLP gun, I can do several molds. Depending on the needle size, HVLP guns generally require more pressure than an airbrush.  But you can get compressors at fairly low prices. There is a lot of discussion of this earlier in this thread.

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Thanks! I'm also thinking I should try thinning my colored cocoa butter and making sure that it's staying above the right temp. I'll give it a shot

 

Also considering the HVLP, but I'd like to see if I can get a little bit of success before upgrading 

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I was using a gravity feed Grex with a 0.5 needle at about 60 psi. More heat worked for me, your mileage may vary. Part of what makes chocolate so much fun!  😉

 

 


Edited by pastrygirl (log)

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I've been lurking around this topic for ages now. I absolutely need to get this figured out. I see some of you using an HVLP gun, others a Grex. I was leaning toward a Grex. I would use it for cocoa butter for moulds (mostly demi-sphere moulds but also seasonal hearts, eggs, santas, etc). I'd *like* to achieve a splatter effect as well as gradient and full-color backing from a single system. My current system (such as it is) is ye olde toothbrush method for splatters, finger or brush dip-and-swirl, blotting w/ various textured things like crumpled clingwrap, and hand-painting for full-color backing. I would still do some of my "hand" techniques that a brush/gun can't achieve. But, for splatters and full backing and the possibilities of gradients, I'd love a single tool. We are small-batch, so 5 moulds/140 cavities of a single pattern per flavor. Would do 5 - 8 flavors on a given decorating day (25 - 40 moulds). I'd love to get through at least one set/flavor before I have to heat up a gun/airbrush; multiples would be great.

 

Would a Grex Tritium gravity feed with .7mm do it? Do I need an HVLP? Also of note, we use luster dusts with alcohol and we like to spray those, but my little Paasche is finicky so we've resorted to hand-painting those as well.  I prefer to use my new spraying system for liquified lusters as well as cocoa butter (I realize this will mean we must clean carefully and ensure all water is gone when we switch out...). As for compressors, it seems I need 1HP??? And Grex website indicates 30psi for spraying cocoa butter, but I see others needing more. HVLP seems like it may be overkill given how much cocoa butter the cup holds. I. am. overwhelmed.

 

I appreciate any insights, especially from those whose production style might match ours. THANKS ALL.

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@Casey H.:  I have a Grex Tritium with .7mm needle. It is a very good airbrush, but as I wrote earlier in this thread, I can't get it to do more than one mold, maybe two, before reheating is required. Again this depends somewhat on the temp of the spraying room. But the Grex does NOT do splatter. If you go back several pages in this thread, you can read about my experiences. The confusion arises from the fact that the Grex does splatter paint, but it will not do so with cocoa butter. The tech support people confirmed this experience of mine and suggested splattering off a spatula. I also tried a Badger and a Paasche; neither does splatter. Maybe there are airbrushes that do, but I don't know.

 

I have never sprayed luster dust (and don't think I would run the risk, but that's your decision). Grex says a 1HP (minimum) compressor is required for a .7mm needle. If, however, you think you might ever switch to an HVLP gun, I would go higher because my 1HP struggled with an inexpensive HVLP paint gun and a 2HP does not cost that much more than a 1 [correction: I have a 2HP, and it struggled with an HVLP gun--it was fine for the Grex .7mm; I think some HVLP guns require higher PSI than 2HP provides.]

 

My production sounds somewhat similar to yours. I found that switching from a Paasche to a Grex was a huge improvement, but I have to say that the Grex still requires frequent reheating. It got so frustrating for me that I more or less gave up on it. It is still great for gradients, which are difficult (though not impossible) with a higher-power HVLP gun.


Edited by Jim D. Edited to correct error about compressor (log)
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21 hours ago, Jim D. said:

@Casey H.:  I have a Grex Tritium with .7mm needle. It is a very good airbrush, but as I wrote earlier in this thread, I can't get it to do more than one mold, maybe two, before reheating is required. Again this depends somewhat on the temp of the spraying room. But the Grex does NOT do splatter. If you go back several pages in this thread, you can read about my experiences. The confusion arises from the fact that the Grex does splatter paint, but it will not do so with cocoa butter. The tech support people confirmed this experience of mine and suggested splattering off a spatula. I also tried a Badger and a Paasche; neither does splatter. Maybe there are airbrushes that do, but I don't know.

 

I have never sprayed luster dust (and don't think I would run the risk, but that's your decision). Grex says a 1HP (minimum) compressor is required for a .7mm needle. If, however, you think you might ever switch to an HVLP gun, I would go higher because my 1HP struggled with an inexpensive HVLP paint gun and a 2HP does not cost that much more than a 1 [correction: I have a 2HP, and it struggled with an HVLP gun--it was fine for the Grex .7mm; I think some HVLP guns require higher PSI than 2HP provides.]

 

My production sounds somewhat similar to yours. I found that switching from a Paasche to a Grex was a huge improvement, but I have to say that the Grex still requires frequent reheating. It got so frustrating for me that I more or less gave up on it. It is still great for gradients, which are difficult (though not impossible) with a higher-power HVLP gun.

 

That was extremely helpful. The luster dust situation finally crystallized in my mind (pardon the pun) yesterday, and I realized my clogging is likely due to the alcohol evaporating so quickly in the airbrush, leaving dusty gunk inside. D'oh! How'd I not think of that earlier?

Sounds very much like I ought to get an HVLP. I have made the mistake of under-spec'ing my equipment one too many times (Paasche being the prime example). Time to strap on some ovaries and get that big compressor and gun. :) 

Thanks for your input!

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3 hours ago, Casey H. said:

That was extremely helpful. The luster dust situation finally crystallized in my mind (pardon the pun) yesterday, and I realized my clogging is likely due to the alcohol evaporating so quickly in the airbrush, leaving dusty gunk inside. D'oh! How'd I not think of that earlier?

Sounds very much like I ought to get an HVLP. I have made the mistake of under-spec'ing my equipment one too many times (Paasche being the prime example). Time to strap on some ovaries and get that big compressor and gun. :)

Thanks for your input!

If I told you how many times I have said "How'd I not think of that earlier?" you wouldn't be able to count them.

 

I should clarify about the HVLP gun:  Much to my disappointment, the inexpensive one I bought did not do splatter successfully. It had a pressure regulator, but the splatter was unacceptable. Perhaps some of them do, but I would suggest research before you invest. There is only one HVLP gun I know of that states that it does splatter, and I doubt you are ready to invest in a Fuji system. Many people on this forum have Wagner spray guns, so you might check on that brand (I don't know where you are located). It's difficult to get accurate information from spray gun dealers because splattering paint is considered a defect in guns (there are tons of Youtube videos on how to avoid this "problem"). Unfortunately even if you get an HVLP gun for its speed and heat retention, you may still have to go back to your toothbrush for splattering--which, as you probably already know, can work very well (it's a matter of technique--I don't do very well at it, I must confess).

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@Casey H.: I should have mentioned that Grex has HVLP guns. I don't know a lot about them, but Grex has some of the best customer service I have encountered. I emailed back and forth with them dozens of times before I bought my airbrush, and they went out of their way to help (even assembling a compressor and airbrush and photographing it with all the connections labeled for my specific setup--very useful for the mechanically challenged, including me). I do not know if their guns are successful at splattering, but after my many discussions with tech support, they will be familiar with this issue for chocolatiers. If you ever want to pursue this, I can PM you information on the person who helped me. It is also significant, I think, that Grex (like Fujispray) acknowledges that its products are used for food decoration; there are many videos showing their airbrush in action, mostly on cakes.

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