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Spraying Chocolate: Equipment, Materials, and Techniques


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21 minutes ago, Jim D. said:

I shouldn't have said anything. You will be able to spray molds successfully with that setup.  Do be careful with the included bottle of airbrush cleaner for cocoa butter.  You might want to use that the first time you use the airbrush (to clean out any "factory residue") or for practicing before you start decorating (which is what I did), but you don't need it when actually brushing colored cocoa butter.  But make sure it doesn't have anything in it besides cocoa butter (or water is OK if you dry the airbrush out thoroughly afterward but I doubt CR is selling just a bottle of water). For routine cleaning, just clear the cocoa butter out with a heat gun or other heat source and add the new color.

 

As for the cocoa butter, when you said "the unsafety of edible paint," I trust you were exaggerating and do realize that it isn't paint we are using but cocoa butter with (usually) artificial (USDA-approved) colorants added. 

No, please tell me the whole terrible truth, better to know than to stay in blissful ignorance :) ...the compressor is nowhere near worth its money, I won't be able to spray chocolate mix with this, and the compressor won't handle an actual spray gun to assist in spraying the choc mix?

 

Yes, I do realize that, but considering just HOW MUCH chocolate I eat...the color might accumulate rather fast)))

 

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3 minutes ago, SweetSymphonybyM said:

It still doesn't show as shipped, I might be able to cancel it. 

I'd cancel if you can - and perhaps do a bit more research into the Grex airbrushes. That one has the container off to the side which IMHO causes more problems with cooling in the path and forever having to reheat the gun to keep things flowing. The Tritium is a nice one. Then maybe purchase a small variety of coloured cocoa butters to play with if you don't already have them.

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Yay, they were able to cancel the airbrush kit part of my order! :) Even though the cs yesterday said it would be shipped same day...

 

I really need a specific recommendation on a super quiet compressor that can easily handle a spray gun if I choose to upgrade in the future, and an excellent air brush that can spray the 50/50 choc mixture for velveting.  I just want to finally have it and forget the pain of choosing one...

 

Price isn't as much of an issue, as easy of use and best tool for the job. The reason I ultimately gave up on the idea of Fuji, were all the reviews that mentioned so much overspray and inability for finer detail

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1 hour ago, SweetSymphonybyM said:

No, please tell me the whole terrible truth, better to know than to stay in blissful ignorance :) ...the compressor is nowhere near worth its money, I won't be able to spray chocolate mix with this, and the compressor won't handle an actual spray gun to assist in spraying the choc mix?

 

Yes, I do realize that, but considering just HOW MUCH chocolate I eat...the color might accumulate rather fast)))

 

I myself am a big fan of blissful ignorance.  But now that Kerry has said it, I'll second her suggestion that you cancel.  You are overpaying for the compressor. If you want to use a spray gun (in addition to an airbrush), you need more capacity--see what Kerry found in the way of compressors a little earlier in this thread.  I have a compressor of 4.6 gallon capacity, and it struggles with a spray gun.  I have learned that it's the air capacity of a compressor that matters. And particularly if you want to do velveting, I think you need a spray gun (though I have not done that technique). I have a Fuji system, and unless you anticipate large production, you don't need it.  I think you do need to do more research. Have you read through this thread?  Others have gone through the process of finding what you are seeking.  And definitely a gravity-feed Grex, not side feed. And the large cup they sell.

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Will the airbrush be able to do velveting? Chef Rubber CS told my yesterday that it should handle it with no problem. Are there any places that sell kits for chocolatiers? The idea of finding all the connectors, moisture traps, etc. is daunting

 

What is the difference between a gravity and suction cups for cocoa butter spraying?

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32 minutes ago, SweetSymphonybyM said:

Will the airbrush be able to do velveting? Chef Rubber CS told my yesterday that it should handle it with no problem. Are there any places that sell kits for chocolatiers? The idea of finding all the connectors, moisture traps, etc. is daunting

 

What is the difference between a gravity and suction cups for cocoa butter spraying?

Turns out you can do velveting with an airbrush, or so Callebaut says in a video I found.  Since you would be spraying out a more viscous liquid (chocolate + cocoa butter) than just cocoa butter, you would need sufficient psi. So you might want to search for some online examples of velveting and see if you can find psi mentioned.  My advice is to find the connectors. It isn't all that complicated, and I have a graphic that Grex sent me showing it all.  Another eGullet member just went through this process, and we handled our back-and-forth through PM, so I'll see if she has any objection to my sharing that with you.  With a kit--as you have already discovered--you pay more.  I had a momentary blackout when I saw what you paid for the CR kit.

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At this point I've discovered that I might not do with choices so well). I've been trying to decide on a chamber vacuum for two months now, and even with pressure from hubs to make a choice in time for my birthday, I still can't make up my mind)). So, I really wouldn't mind paying for a kit just to avoid making all the selections)). I'm almost ready to pay for an online class on bonbon decorating with Chef Dubovik just so I can learn about his set up in detail)). 

 

Thank you for your advice, I will search for the videos you mentioned. If an airbrush can do velveting with success, that will definitely make choosing easier. :)

 

 

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1 hour ago, SweetSymphonybyM said:

Will the airbrush be able to do velveting? Chef Rubber CS told my yesterday that it should handle it with no problem. Are there any places that sell kits for chocolatiers? The idea of finding all the connectors, moisture traps, etc. is daunting

 

What is the difference between a gravity and suction cups for cocoa butter spraying?

I've done velveting with a Badger. The important details are frozen product and warm, cocoa butter diluted chocolate.

 

 

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33 minutes ago, SweetSymphonybyM said:

At this point I've discovered that I might not do with choices so well). I've been trying to decide on a chamber vacuum for two months now, and even with pressure from hubs to make a choice in time for my birthday, I still can't make up my mind)). So, I really wouldn't mind paying for a kit just to avoid making all the selections)). I'm almost ready to pay for an online class on bonbon decorating with Chef Dubovik just so I can learn about his set up in detail)). 

 

Thank you for your advice, I will search for the videos you mentioned. If an airbrush can do velveting with success, that will definitely make choosing easier. :)

 

 

Several of us on eGullet took Andrey's online course.  There is an entire thread devoted to that course.  Melissa Coppel is currently offering live online courses worth considering as well.  Or subscribe to the Savour School online videos--Kirsten Tibballs is really useful.  You really won't find many kits available, and in my humble opinion, you will always do better if you select the components you really want (and ones that will serve you well in the future). A little patience will reward you.  And Andrey's course has very little info on equipment.  He actually uses a fairly simple airbrush for everything. 

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1 hour ago, SweetSymphonybyM said:

At this point I've discovered that I might not do with choices so well). I've been trying to decide on a chamber vacuum for two months now, and even with pressure from hubs to make a choice in time for my birthday, I still can't make up my mind)). So, I really wouldn't mind paying for a kit just to avoid making all the selections)). I'm almost ready to pay for an online class on bonbon decorating with Chef Dubovik just so I can learn about his set up in detail)). 

 

Thank you for your advice, I will search for the videos you mentioned. If an airbrush can do velveting with success, that will definitely make choosing easier. :)

 

 

What Jim says - Andrey's course had precious little information on the airbrush he used. 

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Does the compressor have to be oilless? For some reason I have it in my hand that it was recommended in this thread that the compressor be oilless...

 

So, I need the Grex Tritium airbrush, the .7mm needle conversion kit, a larger cup, a moisture trap, hose, all the required connectors, and which of the below compressors would work very well if I choose to upgrade to a spray gun down the road?

 

https://www.homedepot.com/p/California-Air-Tools-10-Gal-2-0-HP-Ultra-Quiet-and-Oil-Free-Electric-Air-Compressor-10020C/206644539

 

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Husky-20-Gal-Vertical-Electric-Powered-Silent-Air-Compressor-3332013/311273546

 

https://www.homedepot.com/p/California-Air-Tools-8-0-Gal-1-0-HP-Aluminum-Air-Tank-Ultra-Quiet-and-Oil-Free-Portable-Electric-Lightweight-Air-Compressor-8010A/309826554

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2 minutes ago, SweetSymphonybyM said:

Or, if the compressors above aren't powerful/large enough for a a good spray gun, how about this one?

 

https://www.homedepot.com/p/California-Air-Tools-20-Gal-2-0-HP-Ultra-Quiet-and-Oil-Free-Electric-Air-Compressor-20020/312624543

image.png.cd9ad7c333945111aa679bfe13a12909.png

 

 

I'll be posting my ideas presented to another eGullet member on the same subject shortly.  I'm researching some details/sources for materials to try to be of help.

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@SweetSymphonybyM 

Originally I decided the information below was too detailed and esoteric to include on eGullet, but now I'm going ahead, with the idea that it might be helpful to another in the future.

 

The diagram referred to is a drawing Grex tech support sent me; and can be found at this link.  Please note some changes/explanations for the diagram mentioned below.  I must state at the outset that I have very few mechanical/technical skills; I mostly followed directions and read a lot online to get this done. It is a setup for a more or less "permanent" connection for an airbrush; if you want to allow for using a paint gun, there are a few adaptations I could describe if desired.

 

I got all Grex items from Jerry Carter Air Tool, the only business I could find that had everything (Grex does not sell merchandise directly). Jerry himself was very helpful. 

 

TG5    GREX Tritium Top Feed w/ 0.5 mm Needle
TK-7  GREX Nozzle Conversion Kit 0.7mm
CP50-1    GREX Tritium Top Feed Cup 50mL 
GMAC    GREX Quick Connect w. Air Flow Valve 
AD21    GREX Adapter 1/8” M x 1/4” M 
AD24    GREX Adapter 1/4” F x 1/4” F 

GBH-06   GREX 6' airbrush hose

 

As is obvious from the list, I use a 0.7mm needle, but for that, you have to purchase the 0.5mm airbrush and also the upgrade kit. Whether the 0.7 makes a huge difference, I do not know. But I do know that pastrygirl on eGullet is now thinking of upgrading to the 0.7, so she might be able to furnish more information on why she feels that way.

 

The 50mL cup is definitely what you need; otherwise you will go crazy refilling the cup.

 

The quick-connect air flow valve (which is attached between the airbrush hose and the airbrush) is really useful (more info below).

 

The two adapters (AD21 and AD24) are for the "permanent," non-quick-connect setup.

 

Items I bought elsewhere:

The Grex airbrush holder did not work for me at all, so I bought this one from Harbor Freight, for the grand total of $9.99. It works great. It does need attaching to something so that it doesn't tip over, and I found a small piece of tile at Lowe's to which I glued the holder.

 

I also got a moisture trap/filter at Lowe's. I'm not sure it's necessary, but I figured it couldn't hurt and it is recommended by many. Note that in setting up to airbrush, you will need some way to prop up the filter so that air flows from top to bottom.

 

And you will need a roll of plumber's teflon tape. If a connector has an O-ring to seal it tightly, that is sufficient, but there are some connectors that don't, and they need tape for a tight seal.

 

And here are my notes on the hookup of the system. Please excuse me if you already know a lot of this.

 

From the compressor, you need a typical air hose long enough to reach from compressor to close to where you will be airbrushing. Here's an example of such a hose.  If you add a moisture trap, you need two such hoses (one from compressor to moisture trap, another from trap to airbrush, so they will be shorter hoses).  The hose needs (or two hoses need) a male connector to the compressor, female connector on the other end. For this I have a quick-connect connector (1/4" male to connect to compressor, 1/4" female to connect to the air hose).  Here's an example of such a quick-connect fitting.

 

From this hose to the moisture filter/trap,  the diagram provides two options. The Grex AD24 (which is 1/4" female to 1/4" female) is sufficient (I see no reason for a quick-connect connector here since the setup will be "permanent").

 

Then the moisture trap needs to be connected to the airbrush hose. This is the end of the moisture trap that is blue in color in the diagram. Unless you plan to use another spray gun (such as an HVLP one), you don't need the quick-connect options and the AD21 is sufficient (note that the AD12 connector close to the green airbrush hose in the diagram) should have been included within the red rectangle, as it is not needed unless you are using the quick-connect option.

 

Then the airbrush hose needs to be connected to the airbrush. For this I strongly recommend the quick-
connect option (G MAC) as this has a pressure regulating knob that comes in handy. It is also great to be able to disconnect the airbrush quickly to clean out one cocoa butter color and/or place the airbrush in a warmer between brushings. As a side note: The Grex cannot do splattering with cocoa butter, and the pressure regulator will not make that happen, but it does come in quite handy when the viscosity of cocoa butter is causing an issue.

 

If you have questions, don't hesitate to ask. I knew none of this stuff when I started, and I owe practically everything to Grex tech support. Just one example:  Having teflon tape is so taken for granted in the airbrushing/spraying/plumbing worlds that nobody told me I needed it until I spent a lot of time trying to make connections airtight and asked Grex.

 

I paid $300 for a Grex-branded compressor (actually from California Air Tools), but if I had it to do over, I would get something more like the California Air Tools 8010A ($198 on Amazon)--larger air capacity than mine, same (relatively) quiet operation, and less money.  Since Grex no longer sells the compressor I bought, this is the one they recommended to the person I previously helped with these decisions. My entire setup (with the more expensive compressor) cost approximately $850, so this would be around $750.

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Would the compressor you mention (the one on amazon) be enough for a spray gun? In one of the posts in this thread you mention it should be at least 13 gallons for a spray gun, which is why I was looking at the larger capacity ones. 

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7 minutes ago, SweetSymphonybyM said:

 

Q&As on Lowes recommend at least a 30 gallon for HLVP - maybe it's for longer painting than just molds

image.thumb.png.341229fa1a3a7c555503306ddf8141e1.png

 

 

 

 

All I can tell you for sure is that mine has a capacity of 4.6 gallons, and it works but has to run frequently to keep up with the HVLP gun.  I trust Teonzo's knowledge, so I think 13 gal. is sufficient.  But if you can get a larger capacity for the same or less money, then I would probably go for that.  My understanding is that when a compressor has to run a lot, it wears out faster.  The ideal would be a 2 HP with 13 gal. capacity or more, but (again, just what I get from reading) 1 HP is sufficient. 

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Okay, got this set up for the airbrush https://spraygunner.com/grex-tritium-tg-micro-spray-gun-set-with-0-7mm-nozzle/, a moisture trap, 

 

and am now trying to decide between these two compressors: https://www.homedepot.com/p/California-Air-Tools-10-Gal-2-0-HP-Ultra-Quiet-and-Oil-Free-Electric-Air-Compressor-10020C/206644539  and https://www.lowes.com/pd/DEWALT-15-Gallon-Single-Stage-Portable-Electric-Vertical-Air-Compressor/1058157 . Husband is going to pick up the necessary connectors once everything arrives and he checks his garage inventory. 

 

Thank you so much for all the help! I'm sure I'll be back once everything arrives and I actually try to use it)).

 

Jim, are you still very satisfied with the CakeSafe spraying booth? Does one still wear a mask and has to clean up the are around after spraying? 

 

 

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12 minutes ago, SweetSymphonybyM said:

Okay, got this set up for the airbrush https://spraygunner.com/grex-tritium-tg-micro-spray-gun-set-with-0-7mm-nozzle/, a moisture trap, 

 

and am now trying to decide between these two compressors: https://www.homedepot.com/p/California-Air-Tools-10-Gal-2-0-HP-Ultra-Quiet-and-Oil-Free-Electric-Air-Compressor-10020C/206644539  and https://www.lowes.com/pd/DEWALT-15-Gallon-Single-Stage-Portable-Electric-Vertical-Air-Compressor/1058157 . Husband is going to pick up the necessary connectors once everything arrives and he checks his garage inventory. 

 

Thank you so much for all the help! I'm sure I'll be back once everything arrives and I actually try to use it)).

 

Jim, are you still very satisfied with the CakeSafe spraying booth? Does one still wear a mask and has to clean up the are around after spraying? 

 

 

The California Air Tools compressor is slightly quieter, has slightly higher HP; the Dewalt has higher air capacity.  I think you will be fine with either as both have adequate capacity.  I might favor the quieter one.

 

I have now used the CakeSafe some more and am still pleased.  It's not perfect, but I have come to understand that spraying cocoa butter will always produce some cocoa butter in the air (and thus in one's nostrils).  I don't see how any device could remove it all from the air because of the viscosity of the substance. The idea is to minimize that issue.  I now use a small fan behind me blowing toward the spray booth and that helps direct the spray back toward the fan.  The person at CakeSafe said she would recommend that to customers.  But yes, I still wear a mask. Actually not just a mask (the kind everyone is wearing these days), but a respirator from 3M.  "Respirator" sounds dramatic, but it's just a mask but is more tight-fitting and has filters.  It isn't the most comfortable thing I have ever worn, but it helps.  It is very obvious how much cocoa butter is being drawn toward the fan and away from me.  The ultimate question: would I buy it again?  The answer is definitely yes.

 

And, alas, cleanup is required.  But any cocoa butter not captured on the first filter (which ultimately is thrown away) lands on the two panels on each side.  A little soap and hot water (and a big sink) make cleaning those fairly easy.  I recommend the clear acrylic panels as they let in more light as you are working.

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@SweetSymphonybyM, after you get used to your new system and if you really get into spraying molds (and how could you not after all this research and investment?), you might want to consider a heat source to keep cocoa butter flowing through the airbrush.  There is a lot of info on that, and I think each of us might have his or her own favorite device.  So if you find yourself becoming frustrated by how often you have to heat up the brush, get back in touch. 

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