Branding irons first got their start with the branding of cattle. After all, when you’re leading thousands of them what’s to stop someone from stealing them? These days, you can find branding irons for a lot of different industries, not just cattle. In fact, there are quite a few ways that you can use an iron to your advantage.
Thus, to help you get started, we’re going to go over the essentials of branding irons, including their multiple uses and benefits. This is your essential guide to branding irons.
What is a Branding Iron?
This is a relatively simple device that can either be made of solid metal or have an electric heating element inside. The purpose of this tool is to brand your property by burning an insignia or logo on it. To make it work, the tip has to be properly heated so that it will leave a nice, clear burn on your product. Tips can be customized to fit your needs, so no matter what design you want, you should be able to get an iron that matches.
Benefits of Branding Irons
So why would you want to use this method for identifying your property? Why not use a sticker or a label? Well, the reason that branding irons are still used is that they leave a lasting mark that cannot be erased or removed. While new technology like chips or tags are becoming more widespread, an old-fashioned iron is a great way to brand things such as menus and wood products. Overall, the primary purpose of using a branding iron is that it’s permanent.
Uses of Branding Irons
If you thought that these devices were only used for livestock, then you haven’t been paying attention to the branding iron industry. While that is still the most widely used purpose for these irons, the fact is that you can find them in plenty of other places beyond the farm. Here are the top three industries that still use branding irons:
If you love to barbecue, then perhaps you’ve seen novelty branding irons that allow you to mark your steak. While these can be a lot of fun for parties and get-togethers, the fact is that restaurants are also getting in on the action. Steakhouses that want to mark cuts as well-done, rare, or medium-rare can use branding irons in the kitchen to give your meat a more authentic vibe.
Similarly, some places use brands to mark other products like burger buns and pastries. Usually, an iron is a quick and effective way to either put a brand name on the product or some other kind of identifying marker. Usually, to get the best results, the irons are electric, and either use heat or cold to make the brand.
If you are creating rustic furniture or decor, then having a customizable branding iron means that you can add a bit of flair without having to do a lot of work. For example, if you want to place your signature on a piece, you can either spend time carving it out, or you can use a brand and get the same effect in much less time.
Additionally, you can also add brands to leather products or plastics, which makes the device even more versatile. As a craftsman, a quality branding iron can help you create stunning pieces that are distinctly yours.
Electric vs. Manual
Back in the old days, the only way to make a branding iron was to forge the steel into letters or an insignia. Then, to use it you had to heat it up over a fire until it was red-hot. Then, you could brand your product or cattle before cooling the metal down. While that is still a popular method today, technology has advanced to allow for electric models to take over. Here are the key features of both types:
- Never needs recharging
- Works every time
- Easy to use
- Can be dangerous if you aren’t careful
- Takes longer to get to temp
- Maintain better control over your temperature
- Heats up more rapidly
- Requires a power source
- Internal components can get damaged easier
Overall, if you want more reliable results, then an electric iron might be the best way to go. However, if you like the feeling of an old-fashioned brand and want to learn how to master it, then, by all means, go with a traditional version.
Tips for Using a Branding Iron
Although the process of branding may seem like a simple task, there are a few different things that you have to keep in mind to ensure that your results come out the way you want, and will also ensure that you stay safe the whole time. Remember, this is a scalding hot piece of metal, so you must handle with care unless you want to get burned:
- Make sure your area is well ventilated
- If using a traditional iron, keep water nearby to cool it off
- Have practice materials ready so that you can practice your technique
- Don’t leave your iron in the vertical position
- Wear gloves at all times
- Wear eye protection just to be safe
- Take your time when branding, don’t rush
- Make sure that your piece is dry and free of any dirt or debris
In the end, using a branding iron can add a lot of value to your products, whether it’s cattle, wood, leather, or food. If you’re going to brand your products, you might as well brand them.