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cakedecorator1968

Spraying Chocolate: Equipment, Materials, and Techniques

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Hi All,

 

I've been airbrushing my filled chocolate racing helmets for almost two years now, producing tens of thousands of them, and have cycled through 3 different types of compressor, 10 different types of airbrushes/sprayguns (more if you count needle size changes), 3 different spraybooth/extraction setups and 3 different brands of coloured cocoa butter, as I search for the ideal combination for my usage and product.

 

I have just got the keys to my new chocolate workshop in Brackley, UK (where the Mercedes F1 team are based) and next week will be building a 3m x 3m spray room on the upper floor. I have taken the opportunity to purchase a new compressor, 2 new airbrushes and a new extraction booth. I know it sounds like I have a lot of disposable income (there is a lot of money in F1 of course) but most of my purchases have been cheap hardware or DIY jobs. Only now that I am very comfortable with I need/expect from my hardware, am I comfortable enough with parting with some of my hard earned cash. 

 

I'm hoping to create some YouTube videos over the summer explaining all about the hardware I use on a daily basis, which will likely discuss my journeys from what equipment I started with, to where I am now. All the items listed above will be mentioned, hopefully with lots of information the members of this forum may find interesting, if not useful. 

 

For now however, here is a list of the new items that will soon be arriving:

 

Extraction Booth - BenchVent BV100H-D 

 

bv100hd-600x600-1.jpg

 

Airbrushes -  Badger 100LG Medium (0.8mm)  & Iwata HP-TH Airbrush (0.5mm)

badger-100lg-airbrush-600x600.jpgIwata-Kustom-TH-Airbrush-600x600.jpg

Compressor - Iwata Power Jet (60PSI)

 

C-IW-POWERP-NL-2-600x600.jpg

I hope to keep you guys abreast of how all of this equipment works out, as this is the most interesting thread on EG as far as I am concerned. 

 

Here is a question for you guys though. Can any of you recommend an air conditioning unit that could withstand being but into my soon to be built spray room? Most aircon units only have plastic mesh filters, which are beyond useless when coca butter is concerned. My current aircon unit is not very happy as its delicate internal metal fines are coated in the stuff and cannot really be cleaned due to inaccesibility and their fragility.  Obviously I could take a standard aircon and whack a filter on the intake, but better to get one with a decent filter specced in, otherwise efficiency goes down and the motor would overheat. 

 

Cheers guys!

 

Matthew 

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Chocolate Academy Online just released a 1 hour video on their Instagram account discussing all about sprayguns, airbrushes and compressors which is worth a watch. It talks mainly about the equipment rather than technique, but it will certainly help people understand better what to buy and how to maintain - https://www.instagram.com/tv/CBEBiYpJ7I4/

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On 6/2/2020 at 11:44 PM, Racing_Chocs said:

 

Regarding my recent airbrush purchases, I have to admit that the Badger is the one I like the best out of the two. It's 0.8mm nozzle allows the cocoa butter to flow easily and my Iwata Power Jet compressor can keep up easily when I set the pressure at 35psi. With the Iwata airbrush, it just either create huge amounts of atomised overspray (especially when spraying white) when you set the pressure above 35psi or it takes an age to cover even a single cavity with a thick enough layer when below 35psi. 

 

I do like the fact that the Iwata airbrush has a spraygun style nozzle, meaning you get a more oval/line shaped spray pattern, but annoyingly its nozzle is too big to fit into either the Iwata Power Jet compressors two airbrush holders or the standalone, table clamp Iwata airbrush holder I have. I also prefer trigger style airbrushes over the top button style of the Badger as I find it more comfortable (Too many times have I been too overzealous with the heatgun and making the top button blisteringly hot). 

 

The only downside to the Badger is that its cup size is too small and it didn't come with a metal cap. It takes a whole cup for my to spray a mould of chocolate racing helmets a single colour with decent coverage, but because of the angle, I can only fill the cup 3/4 of the way and then refill partway through spraying, not ideal for workflow.

 

So basically my ideal airbrush would really be a hybrid of these two. The badger body but with the Iwata's trigger and cup. If it could have a heating wire coiled around it and an insulated jacket to keep it nice and toasty while spraying, that would be even better as I wouldn't keep burning my elbow accidentally on my heatgun while spraying.

 

The Iwata Power Jet compressor is good, but I was expecting more oomph for the price I paid. 

 

The extraction unit has not turned up yet.

 

Matthew

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19 minutes ago, Racing_Chocs said:

 

Regarding my recent airbrush purchases, I have to admit that the Badger is the one I like the best out of the two. It's 0.8mm nozzle allows the cocoa butter to flow easily and my Iwata Power Jet compressor can keep up easily when I set the pressure at 35psi. With the Iwata airbrush, it just either create huge amounts of atomised overspray (especially when spraying white) when you set the pressure above 35psi or it takes an age to cover even a single cavity with a thick enough layer when below 35psi. 

 

I do like the fact that the Iwata airbrush has a spraygun style nozzle, meaning you get a more oval/line shaped spray pattern, but annoyingly its nozzle is too big to fit into either the Iwata Power Jet compressors two airbrush holders or the standalone, table clamp Iwata airbrush holder I have. I also prefer trigger style airbrushes over the top button style of the Badger as I find it more comfortable (Too many times have I been too overzealous with the heatgun and making the top button blisteringly hot). 

 

The only downside to the Badger is that its cup size is too small and it didn't come with a metal cap. It takes a whole cup for my to spray a mould of chocolate racing helmets a single colour with decent coverage, but because of the angle, I can only fill the cup 3/4 of the way and then refill partway through spraying, not ideal for workflow.

 

So basically my ideal airbrush would really be a hybrid of these two. The badger body but with the Iwata's trigger and cup. If it could have a heating wire coiled around it and an insulated jacket to keep it nice and toasty while spraying, that would be even better as I wouldn't keep burning my elbow accidentally on my heatgun while spraying.

 

The Iwata Power Jet compressor is good, but I was expecting more oomph for the price I paid. 

 

The extraction unit has not turned up yet.

 

Matthew

 

I agree about the overspray from white. I'm not sure why it happens, but it is bad. It also happens with metallic colors. I just purchased a spray booth that does a reasonably good job of removing the backspray (I call it that because the spray bounces off the booth and back at me). I also got a small electric fan which I place behind me, aimed at the spray booth, and that seems to help drive the spray back toward the fan that sucks it from the booth.

 

If you like the trigger-style airbrush and are able to spend more money, I recommend the Grex Tritium airbrush (there is a review of this on eGullet). Grex tech support recommended 30psi, and that is about where I keep it. Grex also has a fairly large metal cup that holds enough cocoa butter for several molds (depending on their size, of course). The small cups on other airbrushes nearly drove me crazy.

 

 

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On 11/19/2017 at 6:05 PM, Jim D. said:

Well, if you have some experience with compressors, it would probably be easy. As I stated previously, I am a mechanical novice. I watched some videos online about setting up a compressor., but it was Danny, the guy at Grex tech support who went above and beyond--he took that photo showing the connections (he must have taken over all the space in the tech support area that day) and gave me a list of all the connectors I would need, which ones Grex makes, which ones I needed to buy elsewhere. He also explained teflon tape (I said I was a novice) and which connectors needed it. I have the link to that photo and will send it to you via an eG PM.

Hey Jim D...i was trawling back through these comments trying to find the photo that you posted, and that you reference here, of the airbrush setup..hose/connectors/moisture trap but haven’t seen it yet. I took a screenshot of it last year, and of course, I cannot find that either. I am exactly like you when it comes to these things. It’s a small miracle that I overcame my fear of my CAT Compressor and somehow cobbled together a working setup with my Iwata Eclipse. I’m thinking of buying a Grex airbrush so came looking for that very informative photo. Can you send, or link me to it, point me in the right direction? Also - thanks again for amoretti tips..I just sealed some bourbon and peach bonbons - will let you knw how they taste once completed. 😊

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On 1/23/2018 at 6:37 PM, Jim D. said:

@Rajala, I am very pleased with my compressor and the Grex airbrush with the 0.7mm nozzle. It's not perfect, but it's better than my previous setup. I would love to have the Fuji spray gun system, but I saw it in action last year and it would be overkill for my production.  Do I think I might someday want something more? No, I don't. If I ever changed my mind, it would be to get the Fuji (don't look at their website--you'll end up moving to a larger apartment to make room for it). If I were doing velveting, I would probably buy an inexpensive paint sprayer.

 

Compressors fill with air with the maximum noise (the California Air Tool one I have is not loud at all, especially after you get used to it), then shut off while you continue to use the air until the pressure drops to a preset point, then the motor switches on again and compresses more air. The 2010 compressor motor, with its smaller tank, would have to run more often. I would estimate in my setup the compressor maintains usable PSI for several minutes (not just a few seconds) before the motor kicks in again--but during the whole process there is always a supply of compressed air for the airbrush and I never have to wait for it to get back up to usable PSI.

 

I have uploaded the diagram (note that it was provided by Grex and so uses their part numbers) to my website:

 

http://www.jamesdutton.net/chocolates/airbrush_setup_diagram.pdf

Found it! Of course it was on the very next page...right after I finally posted my request. 😂

 

 

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@Louise nadine brill, glad you found the diagram. It was indispensable. I think you will be pleased with the Grex. If you want any info on exactly what I ordered, I would be glad to furnish that. You will find Grex tech support among the best anywhere (or at least I did). They are not experts in spraying cocoa butter, but at least they are aware that it is being done and have some knowledge of what is entailed. Although I have a Fuji setup for large production, I mostly use my Grex. I can state one thing:  The amount of cocoa butter used is much, much less with the Grex. I know those bottles are only $20, but when one is addicted to the array of available colors, those $20 mount up.

 

I will be very interested in hearing about the peach. As I reported at some length, I tried everything I could think of (even to roasting fresh peaches with brown sugar and buying peach liqueur) without success. I was just thinking about it today at the farmers' market when I picked up some peaches, hoping the guy from the orchard wouldn't remember that I told him about all my experimentation last summer. At least those roasted peaches did make a nice tart.

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1 hour ago, Jim D. said:

@Louise nadine brill, glad you found the diagram. It was indispensable. I think you will be pleased with the Grex. If you want any info on exactly what I ordered, I would be glad to furnish that. You will find Grex tech support among the best anywhere (or at least I did). They are not experts in spraying cocoa butter, but at least they are aware that it is being done and have some knowledge of what is entailed. Although I have a Fuji setup for large production, I mostly use my Grex. I can state one thing:  The amount of cocoa butter used is much, much less with the Grex. I know those bottles are only $20, but when one is addicted to the array of available colors, those $20 mount up.

 

I will be very interested in hearing about the peach. As I reported at some length, I tried everything I could think of (even to roasting fresh peaches with brown sugar and buying peach liqueur) without success. I was just thinking about it today at the farmers' market when I picked up some peaches, hoping the guy from the orchard wouldn't remember that I told him about all my experimentation last summer. At least those roasted peaches did make a nice tart.


oh yes, please - I’d Very much appreciate a list of what you bought soup to nuts - whatever i need to attach it to my CAT air compressor. I have to admit that i have a terrible  setup with my Iwata. I have the last coupler right at the base of the airbrush and I am still on the 1/4” hose. I know it’s bad,  very uncomfortable - but It works...and i am scared that if I disassemble It - I’ll never get working again 🙄.  I did,  early on, buy a LVLP Sprayit gun and the cocoa butter cloud was like a dust storm....All i could think was “aaarrgghh precious precious cocoa butter..how much have i just wasted?!”. It was from your informative posts that I decided to stop coveting the Fujispray, at least for now, or until I can afford to lose that much coca butter to overspray 😁. My quest for a perfect peach bonbon has been arduous as well. I make a lot peach jam every year and it tastes great - so, i was really surprised at how much Peach flavour was lost when making pate de fruit (which would be an obvious way to try and inject fruit flavour into your bonbon). On this batch, I spiked my PDF with some amoretti flavour, and also added some to my bourbon ganache. Of course, I added too much. 😫😫 However, it’s worth another go. Maybe just add some to my PDF and leave it at that. Maybe  there is a reason we don’t think of “peaches and chocolate” the way we think of “raspberries and chocolate“.

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16 hours ago, Louise nadine brill said:

oh yes, please - I’d Very much appreciate a list of what you bought soup to nuts - whatever i need to attach it to my CAT air compressor. 

 

I doubt that eGullet would appreciate my listing everything here, so I'll send you a PM with the details.

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Hello everyone!
After taking a break from chocolate making for a few years, I am back and doing some small production right now.

Most of what I do is dipped, and for molds i either brush with luster dust or splatter colored cocoa butter with a brush.

 

I would like to buy an airbrush/spray gun and after reading through this thread and watching this very informative video I still feel lost.

 

 

Requirements:

Volume: In the next few months, I will want to spray around 10-20 molds per week (ideally all on the same day, with multiple colors- my favorite is chef rubber's jewel collection). This isn't a large amount, but I do also have a day job, so wouldn't want to spend more than 2 hours at most on this amount of molds.

Decoration: I would like to also use it for splatter and not just spray (unless that drastically increases the price). 

 

Ideally, I would want to spend up to $200 on a gun/brush + compressor, unless that is completely unrealistic for my needs (and then will rethink cost vs requirements).

So now I am trying to figure out whether I need a brush or a gun, and based on that what should I buy. 

I understand a spray gun is much faster and more comfortable to use than an airbrush. While there are quite a few spray guns that are around $50-60 (I have no idea if they are suitable for cocoa butter), because they require a larger compressor that may be out of my budget?

The airbrushes themselves seem to be better for more detailed work (such as spraying through a piping tip, which I am not going to do anytime soon :)), how long would it take to spray an entire mold with one? It also seems like the canisters are very small, so not sure how many pauses would be required to refill them?

 

Would appreciate any guidance on what would better suit my needs, and based on that any specific product recommendations, TIA!

 

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7 minutes ago, lironp said:

Hello everyone!
After taking a break from chocolate making for a few years, I am back and doing some small production right now.

Most of what I do is dipped, and for molds i either brush with luster dust or splatter colored cocoa butter with a brush.

 

I would like to buy an airbrush/spray gun and after reading through this thread and watching this very informative video I still feel lost.

 

 

Requirements:

Volume: In the next few months, I will want to spray around 10-20 molds per week (ideally all on the same day, with multiple colors- my favorite is chef rubber's jewel collection). This isn't a large amount, but I do also have a day job, so wouldn't want to spend more than 2 hours at most on this amount of molds.

Decoration: I would like to also use it for splatter and not just spray (unless that drastically increases the price). 

 

Ideally, I would want to spend up to $200 on a gun/brush + compressor, unless that is completely unrealistic for my needs (and then will rethink cost vs requirements).

So now I am trying to figure out whether I need a brush or a gun, and based on that what should I buy. 

I understand a spray gun is much faster and more comfortable to use than an airbrush. While there are quite a few spray guns that are around $50-60 (I have no idea if they are suitable for cocoa butter), because they require a larger compressor that may be out of my budget?

The airbrushes themselves seem to be better for more detailed work (such as spraying through a piping tip, which I am not going to do anytime soon :)), how long would it take to spray an entire mold with one? It also seems like the canisters are very small, so not sure how many pauses would be required to refill them?

 

Would appreciate any guidance on what would better suit my needs, and based on that any specific product recommendations, TIA!

 


Hi there!

I do approximately that amount of mold painting, during a given week. Higher during Christmas production. I do most of my detail work by hand, and use my airbrush for gradients, solids and combining taped sections for straight lines. My Paasche H single action has worked really well for me, for the last 3 years. I use that and a basic air compressor. I think the total cost was abotu $160

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@lironp, a few thoughts on your decision:  I have used 4 different airbrushes, and by far the best has been the Grex. I find the gun-like trigger action easier and more comfortable to use than the more prevalent ones with the trigger on top of the gun. The Grex is more expensive than many other airbrushes, especially if you upgrade to the .7mm nozzle, which works better for cocoa butter, and it requires more compressed air and so a stronger compressor. If you keep it warm (which I consider a "must"), it sprays beautifully. I bought a dehydrator to keep it warm, and the model I purchased is great. The Grex has a larger size cup, and that is a crucial consideration; stopping to fill up the cup as you spray is a major nuisance.

 

HVLP spray guns are, of course, similar but are different in many ways. I bought a very inexpensive one from Harbor Freight tools. It sprays more rapidly than an airbrush but uses more cocoa butter. Mine does not do splattering, but some of them do. Here is a link to a Grizzly model recommended by @Bentley, and he stated that it does splatter very successfully.  Of course, an alternative for splattering is to use toothbrush, recommended by some famous people in the field (such as Andrey Dubovik).  I also have a Fuji spray system, another version of an HVLP gun. It works very fast but uses a huge amount of cocoa butter. From what you wrote, it is beyond the price range you are looking at.

 

As people have posted in this thread (see especially the comments by @teonzo), the compressor is a crucial choice. It's not just the HP but the amount of storage of air that counts. My Grex works fine with my 2HP, 2-tank California Air Tools compressor, but the El Cheapo HVLP gun kept the compressor running almost constantly to provide enough air at high enough a pressure. If you go with an HVLP gun (such as the Grizzly), I would recommend a compressor larger than what I purchased.

 

So if you will be doing 10-20 molds, an argument could be made for either choice. An HVLP gun will use more cocoa butter and will get them done faster than an airbrush, and if you want to do splattering with whatever you choose, the Grex does not do splatter, and only certain HVLP guns do. No matter what choice you make, I would strongly recommend getting something to keep the cocoa butter and gun warm. My dehydrator has changed my life (as far as decorating molds, goes!).  And, sorry to say, you might be able to stay within your desired budget, but it will be difficult, and (in my opinion) allowing for expansion (making more chocolates in the future) will save you in the long run. I predict that as you get into more elaborate decorating of molds, you will be hooked, like so many of us on eGullet.


Edited by Jim D. (log)
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Thanks for your super detailed response, highly appreciated @Jim D. & @Sweet Impact Mama!

I have been splattering with a toothbrush until now, but I think I was being greedy wanting to do that automatically :)

 

 

In the video I linked to above, Thayer recommends 1.7-2.2 nozzle for a spray gun to get a really smooth finish, but I don't see anything in that realm- is that applicable to the very expensive models?

Is there really any advantage to using a cheap spray gun over the grex or even the Paasche H single action? It sounds like that will force me to buy a more expensive compressor and with the volume I predict for the next few months wont save me too much time. 

 

Is this the grex model you are referring to?

https://www.bakedeco.com/detail.asp?id=22697&trng=fgle&gclid=CjwKCAjw4MP5BRBtEiwASfwAL3wnb4A3_XBksU-U3kYURsg22MnXx-ByZb68zApHlrDazTRBTj47hxoCAIwQAvD_BwE

 

 

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1 hour ago, Jim D. said:

@lironp, a few thoughts on your decision:  I have used 4 different airbrushes, and by far the best has been the Grex. I find the gun-like trigger action easier and more comfortable to use than the more prevalent ones with the trigger on top of the gun. The Grex is more expensive than many other airbrushes, especially if you upgrade to the .7mm nozzle, which works better for cocoa butter, and it requires more compressed air and so a stronger compressor. If you keep it warm (which I consider a "must"), it sprays beautifully. I bought a dehydrator to keep it warm, and the model I purchased is great. The Grex has a larger size cup, and that is a crucial consideration; stopping to fill up the cup as you spray is a major nuisance.

 

HVLP spray guns are, of course, similar but are different in many ways. I bought a very inexpensive one from Harbor Freight tools. It sprays more rapidly than an airbrush but uses more cocoa butter. Mine does not do splattering, but some of them do. Here is a link to a Grizzly model recommended by @Bentley, and he stated that it does splatter very successfully.  Of course, an alternative for splattering is to use toothbrush, recommended by some famous people in the field (such as Andrey Dubovik).  I also have a Fuji spray system, another version of an HVLP gun. It works very fast but uses a huge amount of cocoa butter. From what you wrote, it is beyond the price range you are looking at.

 

As people have posted in this thread (see especially the comments by @teonzo), the compressor is a crucial choice. It's not just the HP but the amount of storage of air that counts. My Grex works fine with my 2HP, 2-tank California Air Tools compressor, but the El Cheapo HVLP gun kept the compressor running almost constantly to provide enough air at high enough a pressure. If you go with an HVLP gun (such as the Grizzly), I would recommend a compressor larger than what I purchased.

 

So if you will be doing 10-20 molds, an argument could be made for either choice. An HVLP gun will use more cocoa butter and will get them done faster than an airbrush, and if you want to do splattering with whatever you choose, the Grex does not do splatter, and only certain HVLP guns do. No matter what choice you make, I would strongly recommend getting something to keep the cocoa butter and gun warm. My dehydrator has changed my life (as far as decorating molds, goes!).  And, sorry to say, you might be able to stay within your desired budget, but it will be difficult, and (in my opinion) allowing for expansion (making more chocolates in the future) will save you in the long run. I predict that as you get into more elaborate decorating of molds, you will be hooked, like so many of us on eGullet.

 

 

Just now, lironp said:

Thanks for your super detailed response, highly appreciated @Jim D. & @Sweet Impact Mama!

I have been splattering with a toothbrush until now, but I think I was being greedy wanting to do that automatically :)

 

 

In the video I linked to above, Thayer recommends 1.7-2.2 nozzle for a spray gun to get a really smooth finish, but I don't see anything in that realm- is that applicable to the very expensive models?

Is there really any advantage to using a cheap spray gun over the grex or even the Paasche H single action? It sounds like that will force me to buy a more expensive compressor and with the volume I predict for the next few months wont save me too much time. 

 

Is this the grex model you are referring to?

https://www.bakedeco.com/detail.asp?id=22697&trng=fgle&gclid=CjwKCAjw4MP5BRBtEiwASfwAL3wnb4A3_XBksU-U3kYURsg22MnXx-ByZb68zApHlrDazTRBTj47hxoCAIwQAvD_BwE

 

 

 

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No, this is the Grex I have (the Tritium model with the .7mm nozzle). The Bakedeco setup is not robust enough (the compressor is 1/8 HP, much too little power, the nozzle is only .35mm, and the cup is very small--Grex makes a 50ml size). The compressor is approximately what I got in the beginning, and I had to replace it as I began doing more molds. I mean, it will work with the .35mm needle that comes with it, but you will be frustrated waiting for enough compressed air to spray adequately and I don't think .35 will be satisfactory at all.  HVLP guns have different sizing, and nozzle sizes are larger than those for airbrushes. If you need to keep the expense low, I would probably go with the Grizzly spray gun (which is only $43) and a larger compressor.  If you hate the Grizzly, you will be out a relatively small amount and will have a compressor that will work for whatever you decide to use. The dehydrator I use is $190 and works well for heating cocoa butter, a spray gun, and chocolate in preparation for tempering.

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