How to Choose the BEST Cake Painting Brushes
How to Choose the BEST Cake Painting Brushes
Looking for cake painting brushes? Not sure which brushes are best for the job? There’s an endless variety of brushes out there to purchase. BUT they are not all created equal in quality. Nor are they all advisable for food safety.
Should we only use brushes that are ‘marketed’ as food safe?
It seems like a silly question doesn’t it? Especially as cake decorators, we handle food products. The obvious answer would be yes, but I’ve actually seen this question debated many times. Here are some opinions on the matter:
Opinion 1: Any paint brush is fine!
Some people feel that any paint brush will do as long as it’s cleaned and stored properly. That the chances of someone getting sick from a brush are quite slim. Especially when comparing to other ways, like getting sick from the counter that you roll your fondant on. Do you agree? More on that below…
Opinion 2: No natural hairs please!
Understandably, many feel strongly against using natural animal hair brushes (such as squirrel, hog or goat) on a cake. This is primarily for animal rights purposes, and for transfer of animal particulates to the cake. Synthetic brushes (made using man-made fibers such as nylon or polyester) are preferred in this case. But, if you’re ok with natural brushes, most brands claim to be cruelty free.
Opinion 3: Oh that Bacteria!
No one wants a foodborne illness from bacteria. But do we need to worry about our brushes? As with any tool or surface we use, we need to use best practices in food safety at all times. Even if the chances seem very slim, better to be safe than sorry!
Many people are concerned for bacteria transfer from the brush to the cake. Regardless of the type of brush used, poorly cleaned or stored brushes can have breeding bacteria.
The type of bristles matter:
Since natural hair bristles have a rougher surface they absorb more paint, or any particulate for that matter. Many artists prefer them for this reason because they hold more paint (especially for oil paints). Thus perform better for painting on surfaces like canvas. However, they can be harder to clean, and the paint can build up over time. That build up can turn into bacteria which would then be transferred to your cake.
Synthetic bristles, on the other hand, are smooth and don’t absorb paint like the natural hair brushes. This makes them easier to clean, and less of a risk for bacteria to form. Manufacturers are also making them to be so similar to natural hair brushes, it’s hard to tell the difference.
Check out these brush charts from DickBlick
Opinion 4: Check for Quality!
Do you buy the cheap dollar store brushes to save money, or splurge on a professional set of brushes? Let’s consider the quality of brushes you’re looking at. The bristles of the brush should be anti-shed. Check your brushes for any shedding before, and while, you’re painting your cake. Also, see how the bristles behave while you paint. Do they keep their shape, and stay together nicely when painting a line? Or do they separate / stick out, making it difficult to paint anything with precision? It’s hard to tell if a brush will be good until you try it. Do some research and look for reputable brands with good reviews.
Ok, so these are all valid opinions…
When I first started out cake decorating, I honestly didn’t give much thought to the type of brushes – natural vs. synthetic, I just thought they need to be food safe. So, I went ahead and bought the Wiltons set which are ‘branded’ as food safe.
If you’re at all concerned for food safety try these, or look for similar brands in your area.
Also, Innovative Sugarworks has released a set of brushes as well.
Wiltons did ok for me but I was really missing the various types of brushes that create different strokes. I then bought a few additional Artist Loft brushes at our local craft store.
The Artist’s Loft brushes are also synthetic. Some brushes work well, but many have bristles sticking out sideways making it very difficult to paint a straight, clean line. (I even had to cut some off) These are what I used for a while as I didn’t want to spend a fortune trying different brands. But I recently changed to a wonderful brand as you will read below!
My Current Brush Recommendation
Artists will have differing opinions for which cake painting brushes are the best to use for various applications and methods. Your criteria may be completely different from mine. However, I would certainly recommend synthetic brushes over natural ones for cake decorating. Personally, I don’t use natural (animal) hair brushes on any cakes. (Yup, just my personal choice) As mentioned earlier, synthetic brushes are easier to clean and don’t have particulate build up that natural brushes can have.
What was I looking for in a brush set? These were my requirements:
- Professional, high quality
- Good reviews, reputable company
Seems like a tall order doesn’t it?! Well, I believe I found it!
I found MyArtscape
With many 5 star reviews and affordable pricing I decided to give them a try. I ordered two sets of brushes, and so far, they work quite well for me! (I will be writing another blog about their performance – stay tuned!)
(Note: I am not an affiliate of MyArtscape – my opinions are my own from personal experience)
I purchased from eBay, but here are the links to the products I bought on MyArtscape:
Of course, these brushes are only a recommendation. I’m sure there are many other reputable brands out there! But this post is mainly to give you food for thought when buying and using your brushes.
Use food safe methods
- Wash your hands before you paint
- Avoid touching the bristles as much as possible. (Your hands can transfer oils, bacteria, etc. which are then transferred to the cake.)
How to clean your cake painting brushes
- Clean brushes immediately after use.
- Using a paper towel, gently remove any excess paint from the brush.
- Gently rinse the brush with mild soap and water until the brush runs clear.
- Using your fingers, carefully reshape the brush head back to its original form.
- To dry, place brush in a holder with bristles upwards.
Keep your brushes in great condition. AVOID the following:
- NEVER let paint dry on brushes.
- NEVER let brushes soak in water.
- DO NOT pull on the bristles, or rub together vigorously. This can affect the brush quality, especially at the .
- DO NOT let brushes stand on their heads to avoid bent or warped bristles.