A while back I stumbled onto this stuff called Torch Paste. Sounds interesting, right? It’s a wood-burning paste or gel that lets you create beautiful designs with the help of a heat gun. I didn’t hesitate to hit that order button. Fast forward a week and a bit, I had my grubby little paws clutched around a small tub of the stuff.
But it was a weekday and I work full time, so I packed it somewhere safe. So safe that when the weekend finally rolled around, I had no idea where I put it. Does that happen to you too? Anyhoos, my tub of wood-burning paste was MIA for months until the other day. And with Easter around the corner, I wasn’t taking any chances on misplacing that baby again. It was the perfect opportunity to play around and make this adorable bunny with his beautifully burnt butt bottom.
Don’t you just love the way the scorched markings add a whole new dimension to the wood?
And it was super easy to do using the paste. So, if you’ve never used wood-burning paste before, (like me) I thought I’d share what I learned. I’ve also included instructions to make the little bunny towards the end of the post. But before we get there, please do me a favor and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. And don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll never miss a post!
What is wood-burning paste?
Wood-burning paste is used to burn beautiful designs on wood. It feels like snot a thick gel and has no noticeable smell. I did give it a good sniff just to be sure. The people who make the stuff, say it’s non-toxic. I didn’t go as far as tasting it, so I can’t vouch for that claim. There’s a whole bunch of different ones out there and it’s sometimes called scorch paste, flame gel, and burn gel. You even get wood-burning gel pens. I used Torch Paste on my bunny. It had the highest ratings on Amazon, so that’s what I went for. Here’s what I learnt researching and playing around with the stuff.
Lessons learnt using wood burning paste
What can you use wood-burning paste on?
Besides wood, you can also use the paste on cardstock or cardboard. Here’s a piccy of a piece of cardboard that I did using the paste. The chemical reaction is much quicker than when you burn wood and you do need to clamp the cardboard down, so the heat gun doesn’t blow it all over the place. I used a lower setting on my heat gun just in case.
I’ve also seen videos where people use it on non-flammable fabrics like denim and canvas and it looks amazing. I’m dying to try that out next. Please don’t use it on synthetic materials like polyester or plastic. The fumes will be horrendous and you’ll probably end up with a melted mess of toxic yuckiness.
Does the type of wood matter?
Yes. Look for unfinished, dry wood that hasn’t been chemically treated and has a light color to get that lovely contrast. Avoid wood that’s been stained, sealed or painted and if you do want to paint or stain the wood, do it after burning. My bunny body is pine and it probably wasn’t a good choice. Unless the pine is kiln dried (my wasn’t) it tends to be
sappy full of resin, which bubbles and runs when heated. You can see the orangey resin streaks below. Not quite the look I was going for.
How do you apply wood-burning paste?
You can apply the paste with a paintbrush, squeegee, or sponge. Most manufacturers recommend a squeegee, which I don’t have so I used a sponge. When applying wood-burning paste, you only need a thin layer and a little goes a long way.
Must I use a stencil?
Mmmmm, my answer would be yes. I did try free-hand a design with the paste and struggled. The paste is a transparent, pale orange color which makes it difficult to see what you’re doing. And the thick gel-like texture doesn’t make it easy for the brush strokes to flow. The best I could do was paint the word “Hello” on a piece of cardboard. I’ll carry on trying though and post an update if I master the art (or I’ll buy a gel pen and try that).
The type of stencil will also impact the final result. The bunny butt was done with a thickish plastic stencil and the lines after burning weren’t that crisp.
I did another test piece with a vinyl stencil and that turned out great. A silk screen stencil would work beautifully too. When stenciling, I’m more of a dabber than a swirler and I’m not very good at it either. It’s probably best if you play around with different types of stencils and see what works for you.
Does sanding make a difference?
Yes, it does. The smoother the surface the crisper the lines. It doesn’t have to be super smooth though. I did a test run on a scrap piece of wood with one side done with 180 grit and the other side 120-grit. I didn’t notice a difference between the two.
Do I need to wear a hazmat suit?
Not at all. I used el cheapo plastic gloves when I applied the wood-burning paste. I wasn’t sure what it would do to my skin. The gel’s quite clingy so my gloved fingers kept on getting stuck. Not in crowbar stuck, more like tacky glue stuck which was super irritating so I took them off. There was no skin reaction whatsoever. The next time I didn’t even bother putting gloves on.
When it comes to the smell, I can’t really comment, since I did it outside. Always wear a mask and googles whenever you burn wood.
Can you use a hair dryer?
Hair dryers don’t get hot enough. You need at least 400 degrees Celsius (700 degrees F) for the reaction to take place. I used a heat gun on my bunny, but you can use a blow torch too. An oven grill will probably also work but it will take longer. I didn’t try that. Just make sure it’s not your cooking oven. I have no idea what invisible fumes get released.
Do I need to seal wood burning paste after burning?
If you’re burning something that will be in contact with food, then apply a food-grade sealer. I left my Easter bunny as is. If you wipe the piece of wood with your finger, you may see a sooty residue after burning.
It’s not a biggie. I gave it two or three wipes with a paper towel until it was gone.
Can you sand the wood afterwards?
Kinda, it can handle a very light sanding. The paste doesn’t actually burn deeply into the wood. The heat makes it react to the chemicals inside the paste and the chemical reaction looks like scorched wood.
What happens if I make a mistake?
That depends on when you make the mistake. If it’s before burning the wood, you can wash the paste off with warm water and leave it to dry completely for a few days. Give the wood a light sanding before trying again. If you’ve done the whole heat gun thing, sand the wood with 80 to 100-grit sandpaper. It should remove the burnt areas in no time.
Can I make wood-burning paste at home?
Yes. I found a bunch of recipes online that you can try. They all use ammonium chloride as the “burn agent”. It comes in a powder format, and you’ll find it at most pharmacies or pet stores. The simplest way to make wood-burning paste is to mix 1 tablespoon of ammonium chloride into 100ml of warm water. The consistency is more like watered-down paint, rather than a gel/paste. To thicken the mixture, add 1/4 tsp of cornstarch, flour, or xanthan gum. Basically, anything you mix with gravy to thicken it up will work. Some creators add a drop of food coloring, which is probably a good idea. That way you can see where you’re applying the paste, since ammonium chloride mixed with water is colorless.
With all the experimenting I did, I hardly made a dent in my tub of Torch Paste, so it will be a while before I try making my own. If you’ve made burning paste at home, do let me know in the comments how it turns out. Oh, before I forget, let me quickly show you how I made the little Easter bunny.
How I made the bunny
Since this tutorial isn’t about making bunnies with burnt bottoms, I’m not going to go into too much detail. I adapted our Shweshwe bunny template to make this little guy and used a jigsaw to cut him out. If you’ve never used a jigsaw this tutorial will get you started.
The body got a good sanding before I taped down the stencil.
And applied the paste with a sponge.
I removed the stencil and left the paste to settle cure for 2 minutes, before turning on the heat gun. It takes a few seconds before you see the paste start bubbling and then whoosh, just like that, the scorch marks start appearing. It’s important to keep moving the heat gun backwards and forwards to avoid over-burning one spot.
To give the bunny a tail I made a pompom using pipe cleaners and leather cord.
To make the ears I used a thick linen and applied texture paste (get the homemade recipe here) to make them hard. Once dry they got lick of cheap craft paint.
The ears are attached with thumb tacks……..
And the tail is simply glued on.
And that’s it. I do love the way the burnt wood stencil on the bum gives the bunny a more polished professional boho look. Will I use torch paste again? Without a doubt, yes!!! It was easy, not as messy as I thought, and it opened up so many possibilities for creating one-of-a-kind pieces.
Have you used wood-burning paste? What did you think?
If you like the idea of making a torched bunny, don’t forget to pin it for later.
Or save the wood-burning paste tips and lessons learned.
BTW, if you’re looking for some of the things we used, we’ve got you covered. Disclosure: Clicking on the links below, means we may receive a commission from Amazon. But don’t worry it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us make more amazing crafts to share with you 😉
Similar items I used to make the bunny
Different wood-burning pastes or gels available on Amazon.
To make your own paste.
And as always, wishing you a wonderful, crafty week filled with lots of love. Thank you for popping in for a visit.