Choosing the Best Cake Decorating Airbrush Kit - Which Airbrush Set is Best for You?
Selecting an Airbrush for Cake Decorating Machine Set
An airbrush set can be a great addition to your cake decorating tools. You can use it to save time by coloring/spraying large areas of icing or fondant in less time (no need to hand color huge amounts of fondant). You can also use an airbrush to create beautiful designs and "works of art," use it with stencils, and to color flowers, etc.
Single Action vs. Double Action Airbrush Guns
Single Action Airbrush Gun & Single Action Variable Airbrush Gun
The single-action* variable airbrush is the most common for cake decorating and is the easiest to learn to use. And in most cases, it is all that is necessary for cake decorating. Linked here is the single action variable airbrush set that we recommend.
In one (single) action (pulling back on the trigger), the single-action* variable airbrush will spray color and air at the same time. The more you pull back on the trigger, the more color is sprayed. (The amount of air remains constant, based on the compressor's setting.) The intensity of the color and width of the spray is determined by how far the trigger is pulled back and how close or far away the airbrush is from the surface. The farther the trigger is pulled back, the more color is released. And the closer the airbrush gun is to the surface, the smaller the spray area covered. As you come away from the surface, the spray area widens.
At the bottom of this page are several airbrush projects created by Roland Winbeckler using a single action* variable airbrush.
* A true single action airbrush gun allows only one preset amount of air and color to spray - similar to the way a can of spray paint works. The vast majority of cake decorating airbrushes are single action variable airbrushes, but they are usually just referred to as single action airbrushes.
Double Action Airbrush Gun
A dual-action airbrush gun requires performing two actions at once (usually pressing down and pulling back on the trigger at the same time), with each action controlling one variable - 1) the amount of air released and 2) the volume of color sprayed. It can take some getting used to learning how to control both at once (sort of like driving a stick shift car vs. an automatic).
We have found that a single-action variable airbrush is usually all that is necessary for most cake decorating needs.
Be sure to never use an airbrush for foods after it has been used for non-edible media such as paint. An airbrush dedicated for food use (cakes, cookies, etc.) must not have ever been used for non-edible materials such as paint.
Gravity-Feed and Siphon-Feed Airbrushes
Gravity-Feed Airbrush Gun
Most cake decorating airbrushes are gravity-feed airbrushes, with the color cup being on top of the airbrush. Gravity does the work of feeding the color into the airbrush so less air pressure is required. Because of the need for less air pressure, gravity feed airbrushes can create fine detail.
Siphon/Suction-Feed Airbrush Gun
Siphon-feed airbrushes draw color from a color cup/jar that is often beneath the airbrush gun. The color receptacle is often a jar that uses suction (and may require more air pressure) to draw color into the airbrush. This type of airbrush can often hold larger amounts of color than the gravity-feed type and is often used for covering large areas (like painting uses). They also are known for wasting some of the media during the siphoning process.
The compressor must be powerful enough to produce enough air pressure to provide a smooth flow of air and color, but not so powerful that it sprays dents/holes in the icing.
If the compressor is not powerful enough, the spray will look speckled. (Our recommended airbrush kit produces a nice, smooth spray when used with liquid food color airbrush colors.)
A compressor with too much air pressure can create dents/holes in the icing, especially if the icing is soft.
Some compressors have adjustment knobs/controls to adjust the air pressure. The 3-speed control on the recommended airbrush kit allows you to select between 3 air pressure settings - we have found that the highest setting works well for most of our cake decorating uses.
Other Accessories You May Need/Want
Moisture Trap or Filter
The compressor produces heat and warms the air being pushed through the tube to the airbrush gun. As this warm air travels towards the airbrush gun, it begins to cool and can produce moisture droplets from the humidity in the air in the tube leading to the airbrush gun. As these moisture droplets reach the airbrush gun, this moisture can be sprayed onto the cake and that can really mess up your beautiful airbrush design.
A moisture trap/filter can be added between a section of the air tubing (closer to the airbrush gun is better). This filter traps moisture as it makes its way towards the airbrush.
This tends to be more of a problem in warm, humid climates.
Note: A moisture trap is often not necessary with smaller compressors or in low humidity areas.
Be sure to see all our Airbrush Supplies.
Airbrush Colors for Cake Decorating
High quality liquid food colors made for an airbrush should be used for cake decorating. These high quality airbrush food colors will help prevent clogs.
Be sure to see all our Airbrush Supplies.
How to Clean The Airbrush
Typically, the airbrush can be easily cleaned by filling the color cup with clear water and spraying it out (onto a paper towel works great). Continue doing this until no more color is visible in the spray.
If your airbrush is clogged, more intense cleaning may be needed, which may require disassembly of your airbrush. Refer to your airbrushes' instructions for this.
We hope this information has been helpful and that you will consider purchasing your cake decorating airbrush kit and supplies from us.