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Cleaning the encaustic painting iron ...

It is surprising just how much dirty colour the fine scratches on the face of the iron can hold. The good news is that it is easy to clean this dirt off again.

In general use it is often only necessary to rough wipe the iron's baseplate surface using soft household tissue. However to get the surface in pristine condition you need to use some clear wax medium too.

NOTE: The scratches on the surface are caused by the abrasive qualities of the pigments that colour the waxes.
( irons are perfectly smooth when new )

ROUGH CLEANING : In normal use the iron surface can be sufficiently cleaned by rough wiping with household tissue.

  • Form the tissue into a soft pad then wipe the base firmly
  • Change the cleaning tissue once soiled or the dirty wax it contains will remelt onto the iron and mess it up again!
  • Take care not to touch the hot iron or you could burn yourself

When you are working it is often sufficient just to wipe the iron's base on a piece of tissue that is laid in double thickness under the area where the iron normally stands.

This rough wipe tissue sheet on the work surface has advantages of being quick and only needing use of one hand.

THOROUGH CLEANING : When you want to avoid any contamination of dirt in the wax, for instance when applying light clean colours as you might for a sky, you need to use clear wax.

First rough wipe the iron as described above, then apply some clear wax over the entire surface of the iron.

Once the entire surface is waxed you are ready to pick up the tissue and wipe it carefully off.

Remember to keep the iron perfectly horizontal or the hot wax could dribble off the surface onto your hand.

Mop off the bulk of the liquid wax with your tissue pad, then wipe a little more firmly to really remove the dirt that is ingrained and lodging in those fine scratches.

If the tissue becomes too soiled then reform it to apply a new and clean area of it to the iron.

Again, with a fresh clean area of the tissue, polish the iron's surface to dry off any remaining wax and remove all traces of dirt.

The aluminium surface can itself be mildly eroded by hard burnishing and this can result in a slight grey residue on the tissue.

Finally the iron is perfectly clean and ready for application of pristine colour again with no fear of contamination.

NOTE: When you finish a working session it is a good idea to thoroughly clean the iron before storing it.

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