Sugar pulling and sugar blowing can create some mind-blowing beautiful and edible designs out of pure sugar.
As the best artists will tell you, it's not easy and it can take years of practice to master.
If you are interested in trying your hand and blowing or pulling sugar, you might be wondering what kind of equipment you need and how to get started.
In this article, we'll look at sugar heating lamps: what they are, how they are used, and whether you really need them for pulling and blowing sugar.
What Is a Sugar Heating Lamp?
A sugar heating lamp is a specially designed heat lamp that is used to keep sugar warm while it is being pulled or blown into creative designs.
Sugar art is a delicate process, and it's easy to screw it up by letting the sugar cool too quickly.
The best solution is to use a heating lamp to keep everything at the right temperature.
Although it's possible to continually reheat the sugar you are working with using a blowtorch, this approach is risky and could lead to other mistakes. A heating lamp provides a consistent heating environment so that the sugar art cools at a much slower rate than it would at room temperature.
The best bulbs for sugar pulling are infrared. These red-hued lights are much better than halogen or food heating lamps for pulling and blowing sugar because they do a better job of heating the sugar internally, rather than just cooking the exterior. The even quality of the heat provided makes the work you do more consistent and makes it easier to work with.
How Is a Sugar Heating Lamp Used?
A sugar heating lamp should be set up above the area where you will be working with the sugar - approximately 12" to 18" above the working area.
If you have a lamp that uses clamps and can be adjusted, this is even better. A sugar heating lamp that can be raised or lowered allows you to control the rate at which the sugar you are pulling cools, which can be a useful technique.
It's helpful to use a silicone or Silpat mat in your workspace. Sugar can burn or damage countertops, and many different materials (like marble) used for countertops will quickly cool your sugar, making it harder to work with.
Although the sugar heating lamp will keep your workspace warm and help you sculpt sugar, you'll still want a blow-torch or other heat source to help you heat the specific areas you are working on.
To use a sugar heating lamp, all you need to do is turn it on and start pulling sugar. However, some of the best sugar artists use their sugar heating lamps to greater effect by raising and lowering them to adjust the temperature when necessary.
Experiment and see what works best for you. A sugar heating lamp can be a great tool.
Is a Sugar Heating Lamp Safe?
Heat lamps are a fire hazard, even when they are used properly.
You should always be very careful when setting up and using a heat lamp. It is easy to accidentally burn yourself by making contact with the bulb, or getting too close, and if the lamp is knocked over it can be a fire hazard.
There is nothing inherently dangerous about heat lamps, and it is possible to use them safely and effectively, but just like a stove or a barbecue, they are dangerously hot and can cause burns.
Do I Need a Sugar Heating Lamp?
If you are committed to mastering sugar art, a sugar heating lamp is a must.
Without one, it's difficult to do a lot of the most intricate and demanding art. A sugar heating lamp makes even simple sugar pulling much easier, and gives you more time and space to make subtle changes.
However, if you are an amateur just looking to experiment and have some fun, you can build or buy a cheaper and less effective version of a sugar heating lamp using simple supplies from your local hardware store.
A 500-watt halogen bulb on a clamp light puts off enough heat to warm a working area, even if it wasn't specifically made for that purpose. Some amateur sugar pullers use a setup like this, raising and lowering a halogen light inside of a box to contain the heat.
A heating lamp made specifically for food is even better than a halogen light, although they are a little harder to find at your local hardware store. They work to keep an area warm, although they are not as good as infrared lights.
If you want to do sugar art, you need a heating lamp. Whether or not you're comfortable making do with halogen light or a food heating lamp, rather than a specifically made infrared sugar heating lamp, is up to you.
Pulling Sugar with a Sugar Heat Lamp
Using a sugar heat lamp makes creating sugar art so much easier.
If you are interested in sculpting works of sugar art, you should get one to make it easier.
The good news is that you can find cheap sugar heat lamps on the market, or even make your own from supplies at your local hardware store. Although an infrared light works the best, you can still get good results from clear bulbs.
Just make sure that you operate a sugar heat lamp safely, and have a lot of fun!