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Reviewing and Comparing Encaustic Irons

Comparing Irons for Encaustic Painting

Snowboard Iron beside an Encaustic Art Iron

The iron is a valuable fusing tool for encaustic painting. The iron is the tool of choice to get a smooth flat wax surface and it works well for fusing over stencils.

I’m not talking here about a regular household steam iron, for encaustic painting choose an iron without holes.In this post, I’ll compare the Encaustic Art Iron and a Ski/Snowboard Iron.

Encaustic Iron choices include

When I began encaustic painting I already had a travel iron and it was great. It was marginally bigger than the Encaustic Art Iron and had a nice long cord. It is now 30-years old and still works but sometimes the handle will fold when I’m using it. In 2017, I replaced it with The Encaustic Art Iron. Last month I bought the Ski and Snowboard Iron.

The Encaustic Art Iron

The Encaustic Art brand of iron has been made and marketed for encaustic painting.

  • I like where the cord comes out of the iron – the bottom right-hand side
  • The handle comes off. For some this might be a plus, you can store the iron in less space and even use it as a mini hot plate – not something that interests me
  • Wax builds up around the edge of the face-plate, gets inside the iron, and later on drips out onto your painting, the travel iron did this as well
  • The point of the iron allows you to get into smaller areas
  • The temperature markings aren’t clear, perhaps this has been improved on newer models
  • It is lightweight and made of plastic. After four years of use, the detachable handle fell off and wouldn’t stay back on

Ski & Snowboard Iron

I’ve only had this iron for a couple of weeks and I really like it. I was concerned about the dimple pattern on the faceplate but it doesn’t make any difference

  • I chose this model as I liked that the cord came out the bottom, most snowboard irons have the cord coming out the top of the handle and I thought that would get in my way. This model has a grove in the handle so the cord can hook in if you like the cord to come out of the top. The only drawback is that my iron is tippy when standing up. It would be better if the cord came out the side
  • The handle acts as a cord wrap – but I never pack mine away so not a big selling feature
  • The metal faceplate comes up the sides so the wax doesn’t build up under the edge of the iron’s face plate. This means, no unsightly muddy drips from the inside lip!
  • Without the point, it is slightly larger covering more area with a single fuse but you can’t be as precise if wanting to fuse a small area
  • The temperature gauge is really nicely marked and has decisive clicks
  • The iron is very sturdy. I was concerned that it would be heavy but it is fine. I hope this one will last more than four years.

Please leave your comments below to share your experience using different irons.

Additional Posts Using the iron

You may also be interested in these posts about using an iron in encaustic painting

About Ruth Maude

I enjoy experimenting with a variety of encaustic materials, techniques and tools. Everything I learn pushes my creative journey in new directions. I share what I've learned with other artists through my blog All Things Encaustic.

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6 thoughts on “Comparing Irons for Encaustic Painting”

  1. Thanks for the iron post. I am new to encaustic and pondered which would be best and you confirmed my intuition. Thank you again.

  2. Hello!
    I’m just beginning my photo encaustic ‘journey’, can’t wait to start experimenting!
    As far as the irons…. I have a heat gun, is an iron necessary? What can I do with the iron that I can’t do with the heat gun?
    When to use a heat gun vs. an iron, or are they used in combination?
    Thank you!!

  3. The current Encaustic Art iron (shown in your amazon link) is current, and from a better factory than the earlier model you used in your testing (main picture). The important thing to ponder is perhaps what you are using the iron for? If it is simply to spread wax around and fuse one clear layer on top of another then many irons could work. But if it is being used as a direct tool for creating marks and effects withing the wax, then the traditionally shaped iron has many advantages. Stable accurate temperature control becomes more important.
    * Note that the Encaustic Art iron can also be reconstructed into a small and useful hotplate by removing the handle and seating the iron base (hot side up) on top of that handle (it clicks into place).

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