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Should I buy an Aluminum or Brass Branding Iron?

If you have been asking yourself “is an aluminum or brass branding iron better?” The answer is that both are good choices and it really comes down to how it will used and cared for.

My advice: Always buy aluminum for food. As far as durability goes, it is hard to be patient enough to damage an aluminum branding iron when holding it by the handle over a flame. Only by propping it up, turning your attention elsewhere, and failing to check it periodically have I seen them damaged. Brass will survive this sort of abuse better.

Either one will make 4-6 impressions before needing another 30 seconds of heating with a torch. Both should be held by hand over the heat source and have their temperatures checked once a minute until the first hint of a mark on scrap wood. Then, I recommend checking them every 30 seconds after that first hint is seen.

Aluminum Branding Irons

Less Expensive

Food Safe ( 6160 alloy has zero lead )

Harder at room temperature

Requires checking their temperature every 30-60 seconds by pressing against a piece of scrap test wood (needed if you want a nice crisp mark with either iron).

Demonstrated to reliably provide 500+ impressions when heated to “branding temperature” (300C). If the wood smokes in about a second, that is hot enough.

Brass Branding Irons

More expensive, but very pretty

Not recommended for food. (360 Brass alloy has a small amount of lead in it to make it free machining).

Requires checking their temperature every 30-60 seconds by pressing against a piece of scrap test wood (needed if you want a nice crisp mark with either iron).

I have never seen one melted even when carelessly heated far beyond the “good mark” temperature.

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