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I've been hand painting colored cocoa butter into chocolates molds for a while now, but I'd like to try airbrushing the molds instead, since I've seen some impressive results. I can't figure out a food safe way to do this, though.

The most obvious way seems to be buying an oil-free compressor and a fancy air brush. That seems to be $200 and up, though, which is more than I'm interested in spending.

Another common approach is to use something like the Badget 250 and a can of compressed air. The Badget 250 is only around $15, making it a lot more viable. Apparently, even Norman Love does this:

"Another technique [Norman Love] showed us was airbrushing color into his molds. He uses "Mini Spray Gun Set 250-4" made by Badger company. It's the cheapest air brush out there. He hooked up to a can of air instead of a compressor. This cheap air brush lets you spray thick liquids (chocolate) and has easy clean up and no cloging. He mentioned plumpers use this type of brush... Oh, the can of air gets very cold while using and can freeze up. So he places it in a warm pot of h2o to prevent that from slowing him down. It also can be hooked up to a compressor, of course."

http://www.cheftalk.com/forum/thread/8093/chocolate-demo-by-norman-love

That's great, except that all the compressed air I can find contains a propellant which is highly unlikely to be food safe. Can you buy food safe compressed air? If not, how do you do food-safe airbrushing without spending hundreds of dollars?

Thanks!

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2 Answers 2

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Both CO2 and N2O should be sold as "food safe". N2O is commonly used for whipped cream. I can't vouch for mechanical compatibility, though.

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You can get 'food grade' CO2 cartridges for soda fountains. It's likely the cheapest propellant you can get, but they use nitrous in whipped cream as carbon dioxide leave a touch of a bitter flavor. –  Joe Jul 21 '11 at 18:29

I looked into trying to mate up airbrush hoses with a CO2 injector (specifically, a Gallo Gun), and never managed to find the correct adaptors. I was told of a store that specialized in fittings in Baltimore (I'm in the DC area, so it was vaguely local), but the trip never fit into my schedule, so I don't know if they exist ... I assume you'd be able to find a fitting to attach to a hose for one side, and then a different sized fitting on the other side of the hose, but you just have to find a place that had the right bits.

They also make small CO2 injectors for quick bike tire inflation, and ones for charging selzer water, but if you're going to be doing a lot, it might be worth looking into the larger CO2 tanks (sized between 2.5 to 50lbs) used in restaurants for soda fountains & beer taps, that you'd then take to get refilled. (AirGas is one of the local places that does it, but call ahead, as not all places do tank fills ... the one near BWI airport only does dry ice, I found out after driving up there)

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