Airbrushing Chocolate Molds

August 3rd, 2009

airbrush After months, years of wanting and contemplating the wait is over. The task of buying an airbrush is finally done! I feel sort of silly having waited so long but I guess the timing wasn’t right until now. This was really a very easy thing to do and inexpensive as well. Who knew?


The Gun- Badger Mini Spray Gun Set. A mere $25, plus shipping! This set includes: the gun, 1 jar for paint, air hose, regulator, and a 7 oz. can of compressed air to start with. The scalehobbyist.com has a great price on propel air. I will continue to used this for small production and eventually upgrade to an air compressor when necessary.

The paints- Chef Rubber colored Cocoa butterJewel Collection
As I mentioned in a previous post about hand painting, I prefer this particular collection because it sparkles. Many other Chocolatiers use plain cocoa butter colors and add a gold luster dust on after for the same effect. This gold dust can be expensive and this paint works just as well.

I had some left over Pearl Collection Paint I was saving for the day I got my airbrush. I was previously unhappy using it with my brush techniques. The airbrush creates a more even layer of paint and I was hoping that this would flatter the Pearl colors. Alas I am still disappointed with the overall look of this collection so I will continue to stick with the Jewel.

I also tried spraying with a matte red, no sparkles and it seemed to look so dull to me and a bit cheesy. Even though sparkly paint is great it might not always yield desired results due to color. A forest green I used on dark chocolate, for which I was hoping to spruce up the Mojito truffle never seemed to work out either. So I will continue experimenting with different shades of color, for both milk and dark chocolate, to create colorful chocolates with class.

The Technique- Warming, Spraying, Clean-up

Warming- I began by warming the colorant in its plastic container, in the microwave. First take off the lid and heat for one minute and then take out return lid and shake. Repeat three times, or until colorant is thoroughly melted. Then transfer to the jar for painting. I quickly discovered how time consuming this was going to be with only one jar for colorant and having to clean it out after each use of a new color seemed to be wasteful. So I then ordered a dozen more jars from a hobby shop on line so I could have one for each color, also inexpensive. Immediately I switched out all of the glass jars full of paint with the plastic containers in my cocoa butter warmer. This cut out the use of the microwave all together, saving time. I also learned to save time and water by starting with white and then moving on to lighter colors first and darker colors last. This way I could easily switch out the jars and not have to clean out the whole gun between each color change.

Cocoa Butter Warmer

Cocoa Butter Warmer

*TIP* If you don’t heat the colorant thoroughly it will spray little chunks and clog up the air nozzle. The same will happen if you over heat it in the microwave and scorch it. Microwave jar in small intervals like 10 sec to heat further and prevent scorch.

traymnbox

Spraying- You are spraying the actual mold with colored cocoa butter before filling it with your chocolate shell. This can easily get messy quick! Over spray can cover you, your work space and surrounding area. Wear gloves and an apron to protect yourself from hard to clean off cocoa butter and
lay down a drop surface on your work space. I also suggest spraying your tray inside some sort of upright cardboard box to catch even more over spray that emits into the air.

Be sure to hold the gun at right angles in relation to the tray. The paint tip nozzle can be adjusted for paint flow and the regulator knob for air pressure. These adjustments create different effects and must be tweaked for desired effect. I always begin spraying on scrap paper or news print before I start on the actual mold. I found I like the look of a warmer cocoa butter spray because it puddles slightly into the details of the mold.

*TIP* Try lying the mold face down onto wax paper to dry. This will cause the paint on top of the mold to adhere to the paper. This helps prevent excess paint from being scraped into the chocolate when molding shells.

Clean-up– Extra jars mean just capping them for storage. Wipe down air hose, regulator, and propel can with a warm wet cloth. I find concentrated dawn dish soap works best when cleaning cocoa butter. Disassemble gun parts and wash under hot running water with soap. A strait pen is helpful for cleaning out the paint nozzle as well as pipe cleaners for the paint hose.

Of course airbrushing requires lots of practice and experimentation, just as hand painting. But it does save time and creates a whole different style. I’m so glad I finally have an airbrush! I have had so much fun with it so far and will continue to far into the New Year. It gives my chocolates a new kick, one I’ve always wanted. Never give up hope and don’t be afraid to try new things, you just might be successful at them!

35 Responses to “Airbrushing Chocolate Molds”

  1. Noemi says:

    Hello, Thanks for your article it has been very helpful. Is there a possibility for me to contact you. I’d love to learn more about your experience airbrushing chocolate.
    Thank you
    Noemi

  2. Brian says:

    Awesome Post. I can’t wait to here more of your adventure experimenting with different colours, textures, gold-flake, etc. I wonder how hard it would be to make reusable templates, that would mask certain parts of the mould, in order to create fades and other effects.

  3. Robert says:

    Great post! I experimented with some of the colors from Chef Rubber this week, but I had some trouble with some of the colored cocoa butter sticking to the molds when I unmolded them. Some of the chocolates looked perfect, but some left behind pieces of cocoa butter in the mold.

  4. Thanks Robert! There are a few factors that could cause this problem.
    The cocoa butter may have been sprayed on too thick, been too hot/too cold, or not had enough time to set up before you added the chocolate. If the cocoa butter is puddling at all in the mold, you’ve added to much. I use the cocoa butter at about 100 degrees. If its too much hotter it becomes really thin and you would need many coats which causes the puddling. Also if its too cool it will become very thick and not only hard to work with but will not adhere to the chocolate properly. The mold should also not be too cold when the cocoa butter is added. I would also suggest the painted mold have at least one hour to set up in an environment around 70-80 degrees. I hope this helps!

  5. Super site. You have got a brand-new reader. Please maintain the nice writings and I look forward to more of your entertaining updates.

  6. Mary says:

    I tried using the Badge I bought at Michael’s and it clogged and the hose split. I got a second one and the same thing happened. I had heated the cocoabutter in the microwave and it was very liquid. Any suggestions?

  7. Strange that the hose split, vertically or horizontally? I would suggest maybe being a little more careful when handling the hose. I sometimes bend mine when attaching it if I am not careful. It may be possible to just replace the hose, I am not sure.

    Clogging usually occurs when the cocoa butter is too thick. But if the nozzle is not cleaned thoroughly between each use it will clog more easily. I usually clean my nozzle under running hot water with a strait pin. I keep sticking the pen in and out until it comes out clean.

    I also recently started using the cocoa butter at a temperature of around 93 degrees, or slightly cooler instead of 100 so it is less liquidy. When heating in the microwave it is best to warm in one min increments stir or shake and let sit for 1 min before heating again, this prevents scorching the cocoa butter.

  8. Glenn says:

    What kind of airbrush do you use…

  9. Greg says:

    I enjoyed reading this because I have wanted to try the airbrush on molded chocolates. Please include more about your experiances. I have seen kits that cost close to $2K, do you really like the Badger kit?

  10. HI Greg,

    I waited much to long to purchase my inexpensive badger kit, I was intimidated about the high cost of other kits and didn’t believe the badger would do the job. Boy was I wrong! I also know now that even professionals like Norman Love use badger kits as well. I think it is definitely the best idea, especially for learning basic air brushing techniques. I know Norman uses a compressor where I am still just using cans of Propel. This has been pretty sufficient for me, although recently I had a problem with moisture mixing with the paint during spraying. This moisture was caused by the can of propel freezing, I usually place it in a jar of hot water to avoid this but was being lazy and paid the price. I am sure that this is not a problem with dry air from a compressor. Again if you are learning, I recommend starting with the cans and then moving on to a compressor if you have high volume or think the cans are too much of a pain. I’m always researching and learning so I will try to post some more tips soon. Good Luck to you! Also, I would love to see pics of your finished creations.

  11. I really like that cocoa butter warmer. Where can I get one and how much does it cost?

  12. adam says:

    to clean overspray off my molds, i place a paper towel flat on the work surface, and wipe the flat surface of the mold clean by passing it face down across the paper towel immediately after spraying.

  13. Great tip Adam, thanks! I do that sometimes too, when I’m not too lazy. : )

  14. Elisabeth says:

    Hi,
    Over a year I have been looking for a cocoa butter warmer, thus I was sooo happy when I found your site! My only problem is that where I live, I need a 220 V machine and the Donviers has only untill 110 V. So my question is: what is the working temperature of your cocoa butter warmer? With this information I could check up the working temperatures of the youghurt machines around here and buy the most accurate one for this purpose.
    Thank you so much for all your usefull informations,

  15. The working temperature usually depends on how full the jars are and often is higher than what I need, like 112 to 116 degrees. I just take the color out I am ready to use and stick a thermometer in it and wait for the temp to come down to the temperature I need. I can check the manual and see if it says anything more.

  16. BourgeoisBerry says:

    I just wanted to thank you for this EXCELLENT tidbit of information!!! I am still new to the chocolatiering experience & the more I get into it, the more I realize that I LOVE IT!!! playing with flavors, textures, colors…EVERYTHING!!! keep up the wonderful blog!! 🙂

  17. Tosin says:

    Hello,
    I’m trying to create my own colors using oil based candy colors n cocoa butter but it ends up sticking to the moulds.
    Should I heat them separately? If do to what temp?
    What is the best working temp for the colored cocoa butter.
    On mixing them-the color and cocoa butter do I heat them up again.
    Also can I use any airbrush kit or it has to be food grade
    Thanks

  18. Hey, I think you can use any airbrush kit if you use it for food exclusively. I was just thinking of making my own colors the other day! I’m not sure how the oil reacts to the cocoa butter and what chef rubber uses to die their cocoa butter. But it seems to me that you would want to sort of temper the cocoa butter like you would chocolate. Try melting it slowly up to over 100 degrees, maybe to 110-115. Then add the color. Next let the temp drop to around 80 and after it hits take it back up to 90-94. I usually work with it around 90 if I’m hand painting or 93/94 when I’m using the air brush, because it cools as it passes through the brush. You can probably try this with the colors that you already have mixed as well. I use the microwave to heat it up in intervals. Heat, stir, set for a min, repeat. Sorry for the delayed response, hope this helps and let me know how it goes!

  19. Catherine says:

    I recently purchased an air brush kit and I am having trouble with the cocoa butter passing through the spray nozzle at a thicker rate. I am currently just getting small specks sprayed onto my molds and not an even coat. Is there any way I can make the cocoa butter come out thicker? It seems like just air is coming out and no butter. Let me know if you have any tips for me I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you

  20. Hi Catherine, so sorry for the long delay as I have had most of the Summer off. There are a few things that could cause this problem. The first would be is the can of air freezing, if so put it in a bowl or jar of warm water. Second, the temperature of the cocoa butter always effects the flow of spray and its consistency. In your case if its too thin it may be to hot. If the specks are thick, it could be too cool. When it get REALLY hot, like scorched it could become thick again. The paint nozzle can be turned to adjust the flow of paint as well as the nozzle on the can can adjusts the air pressure. Some times I have to play with these nozzles to get different desired effects. Lastly, always make sure the paint nozzle is unclogged by using a pin, or thin wire. I sometimes heat it up with a hair dryer or heat gun to release any dried cocoa butter that may be caught in there.

  21. JC says:

    Hi LadyChocolatier,

    I use the same Badger airbrush system and while I love it most of the time, almost every time I color molds, at some point the cocoa butter stops coming out of the hose. Every time this happens, I check the hose and nozzle and it doesn’t appear to be clogged (I double check by using the same method as you do by sticking a pin in the nozzle and cleaning the hose). My cocoa butter is not too cold as I monitor the temp constantly. Does this happen to you and do you think it’s just a matter of the propel can freezing? It’s such a time suck having to do this every time I color molds. Any insight is greatly appreciated. Thank you and great blog!

  22. What temp is the cocoa butter? Also, try putting the propel in a bowl or jar of hot water.

  23. JC says:

    ~90ºf. I just read your post on airbrushing temps and I think it must be because I always use compressed air cans and the cocoa butter is cooling. What kind of air compressor are you using with the Badger system? This problem happened to me again last night and it’s seriously driving me crazy so I’m considering buying a compressor. Thanks so much for your prompt responses!

  24. I just use the propel compressed air, but putting the can in a jar of hot water really works for me.

  25. Pamela Hinds says:

    Like one of the other posters, I’ve had problems with the cocoa butter (Chef Rubber) sticking to the mold, primarily when I dab or paint on the cocoa butter. I’m wondering if this might be the result of using cocoa butter that’s too hot (although it cools before putting the chocolate on it). Could it maybe be a result of it being too thick? Any advice/insight appreciated. It is so frustrating to unmold the chocolates to find most of them stuck to the mold!

  26. Believe me, I know how frustrating it can be! Especially with the high price of cocoa butter. As many times as I have gotten them to all come out perfect I’ve probably had nearly as many stick. Their are SO many sensitive factors when working with chocolate. It could be problems with the chocolate temper it self, if humidity in the room is high it could also create an issue. The temperature of the cocoa butter must be monitored and maintained. If its too hot or too cool it will stick.

  27. Priscilla says:

    Again, I also have problems with the cocoa butter sticking to the mold when I hand paint it. I will try working with the temperature, but do you think it could be because my molds are not as perfectly smooth as they used to be when they were new? Because I have melted cocoa butter the same way for a while and it never stuck to the mold, but recently it has been sticking. My dad suggested that to me, so I have been thinking about it. Also, thank you for the post on the airbrush system, I am very interested in getting one, and I found your information as well as other peoples comments very helpful!

  28. Could the cocoa butter be old? Maybe you should try a melting and re-heating process similar to tempering chocolate to try and get it back on track. Temperature is key! I like using the warmer because it keeps it warm as you paint.

  29. Michael says:

    Temperature is the primary issue with cocoa butter sticking in the molds. I generally use it around 31 degrees Celsius. I have also found this is an issue with molds when they are new. I generally take plain cocoa butter and wipe it into the mold with a cotton ball when they are new and let them sit over night before cleaning. I also never fully wash them. Just wipe them out with cotton after each use. This builds up a micro layer of cocoa butter in the mold to help them always release.

  30. Michael, you are right about temperature being the primary issue. I think it is important that everyone understand that the temperature is different if you are hand painting vs airbrushing. When hand painting a temperature from 87-90 degrees F should be used and when airbrushing the temperature needs to be a few degrees higher such as 90-93 to compensate for the cooling that occurs when the cool air hits the cocoa butter.

  31. Bob says:

    I am looking into getting the exact warmer that you have pictured. Product specs say the temp range is 90-120F. But, I cannot see how the temperature is adjusted. How do you adjust the temperature on the machine so it stays at 90?

  32. There are no temp adjustments on the machine, meaning no way to set the exact temp.

  33. Bob says:

    Thank you SO much for your very prompt reply!! My question then is, how do you use it? Do you just turn it on and put the jars in and let the CB melt? Do you take the jars out at some point? Wouldn’t the machine take the CBs up to 120F? Thanks again. (Wonderful site, by the way.)

  34. So much for the prompt reply, I’ve been on a VERY long vacation. (Lucky me!) I do just put the jars in and leave it on over night to melt everything down, they do get up to around 120. When I am ready to use a color I take it out and let it cool using a thermometer to monitor the temperature until it is at a desired use. If I’m hand painting and the temp gets low I will put the jar back in the warmer and use it right out of there as the temp slowly goes back up. Thanks for the compliment!

  35. Elizabeth says:

    Hello,
    I have read your article looking for advice and I have a question; I have Badger 250.4 and today I tried it for the first time. But, unfortunately, no cocoa butter comes out the nozzle. What do you think the problem is? Cocoa butter too thick?
    Thank you for any advice.
    Elizabeth

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