How to Clean Wood Burning Tips: 7 Easy Methods

Marilyn Grant
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Last updated: August 18, 2023
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Any avid hobbyist will tell you that regular cleaning and maintenance of your tools is crucial to ensuring the lifespan of your equipment. Pyrography tools are no different.

Pyrography, sometimes referred to as wood burning, is the free-handed art of decorating wood with a heated object. A novice might be tempted to think all that applied heat will naturally keep the tools clean. However, you’d be mistaken. Anyone starting pyrography Trusted Source Pyrography - Wikipedia Pyrography or pyrogravure is the free handed art of decorating wood or other materials with burn marks resulting from the controlled application of a heated object such as a poker. It is also known as pokerwork or wood burning. as a hobby or as a career should know how to clean wood burning tips.

Read our expert tips to find out why, how often and what items you’ll need to keep your wood burning tips clean to continue producing amazing pieces of art.

Why you should clean pyrography tips

Pyrography is performed using a wood burning pen. This pen allows the artist to burn different sketches or designs into a wooden surface. Over time the tip might start to change color and it then becomes harder to burn patterns the way it did before.

This happens because wood is not as simple to work on as paper. Wood mediums tend to contain resin that comes out of the wooden pores when the wood is heated. As you use the heated pen to sketch over the wood, carbon sticks to the tip.

Over time, or with extended use, the carbon starts accumulating on the tip. Accumulation of dirt or carbon residue causes the tip to make uneven burns, which affects the quality and precision of your drawing or sketch. You might be left wondering how to clean wood burning tool tips.

When you start noticing that your sketch lines are not as clean and drawn as before, you know it’s time to clean your wood burning tool tips. Before you just toss the tips in the garbage, always give them a good clean. You might find that a good deep clean will give your pyrography pen tips a new lease on life.

What you’ll need

Fortunately, there are several quick and easy ways to clean the charcoal and resin build-up from your pyrography pen tips. Adding the right tip cleaning materials to your pyrography kit is as important as having the best apron or selecting the perfect type of wood to sketch on.

Experts recommend cleaning your pyrography pen tips using one of the popular and effective tips listed below.

Increased heat

Some wood burning experts suggest burning the carbon off by increasing the pen’s temperature to the maximum setting. Exposing the tip to extreme heat will aid the carbon in loosening from the tip.

Figuring out the right temperature to get the carbon build-up to start peeling off, takes some practice. The temperature required might be higher than what you’re used to working with.

It only takes the three easy steps listed below:

  • Increase the temperature and let the tool sit for a while.
  • Eventually, you’ll notice that the carbon build-up starts peeling off the tip of your pen. Increased heat causes the residue to start chipping off.
  • After a few minutes, switch the tool off and remove the carbon traces with a soft cloth.


How to Clean Wood Burning Tips: 7 Easy Methods

One of the simplest ways to remove carbon from tips is with 320 grit paper. Once your pen has cooled off, wipe the tip off with a damp cloth. Gently sand the edges of the tip with the sandpaper until the carbon residue comes off.

Don’t use sandpaper with a higher grit. If the sandpaper is too rough it can easily weaken the tip and cause it to eventually break.

Polishing cloth

How to Clean Wood Burning Tips: 7 Easy Methods

One of the ways to minimize carbon build-up is to use a polishing cloth after each use. Let the tool cool down and wipe as much residue off as much as possible. Check the tip and see if there’s still any carbon residue build-up. Give the tool another polish with the cloth to remove the rest of the residue.


How to Clean Wood Burning Tips: 7 Easy Methods

If the carbon build-up has formed a stubborn deposit, an option could be to clean the tips with a knife. Scrape off the carbon but take care not to be too rough with the tip. This will damage the tool.

The remaining carbon or resin build-up can be removed with some cleaning solvent and a soft cloth. The trick here is to use a knife that’s not too sharp as the last thing you want to do is cut yourself. It might also be a good idea to hold the tip with pliers to avoid the possibility of injury.

Jeweler’s rouge

Jeweler’s rouge Trusted Source Jeweler’s rouge - Wiktionary A mild red polishing abrasive made from finely ground iron oxide (rust), used by jewellers and lens-makers for finishing surfaces. is a less abrasive and much safer option to clean wood burning tips. Since pyrography tips are very delicate, abrasive options can do more harm than good. This is also a good option if you’re still in the beginning stages of your hobby.

How to Clean Wood Burning Tips: 7 Easy Methods

Cleaning burr

For a thorough deep clean on your wood burning tips, you might want to invest in a rotary toolkit and a burr that’s compatible with the tip. Use the rotary tool sparingly as over polishing the tip will cause it to start thinning with continued use.

Tea Strainer

If you find that sandpaper and cleaning burrs are a little too abrasive for your liking, a less abrasive way to clean tips is by using a tea strainer.

Using a tea strainer is one of the most inexpensive solutions and can be applied in the following way:

  • Turn the strainer over and compress the lowermost side.
  • Use the strainer to scrape the tool’s tip by moving it around in circular motions.
  • The carbon residue simply falls off and before you know it, the tip will be cleaned.

Future care advice

Knowing how to clean pyrography tips is one thing. But, the real secret to extending the life of your tool pens lies in how you maintain them after each use and cleaning session. We’ve compiled a few expert tips to help you give your tools the maintenance they need.

Always switch the tool off after use. Forgetting to switch it off could cause damage to the tip or surroundings. If your pyrography machine has a stand, let the unit cool down completely before putting it away. Keep a container to store the tool pen in so that it doesn’t get damaged. Keep all the tips and cloths used for your machine together. That keeps it all organized and ensures other tools in your work area don’t scrape against them and damage them.

Always wait for the tool to cool down before packing away or cleaning the tip. Not only is switching your pyrography machine off a safety precaution, but it also prolongs the life of your pen tips.

The wood burning pen tip remains hot for some time after switching the unit off. Using tools to handle the hot tip could make the pen tip malleable. The tips can bend or break under extensive temperatures, such as being left on for too long.

Use cold water to cool the pen tips. If you need to switch tips at any time during your pyrography session, use pliers to gently remove the tip. Immediately place it into the cold water to cool down and avoid accidental burns. Wipe off all used tips and store them properly to avoid damage.

If you regularly change tips in your designs, you might benefit from a more advanced wood burner. Reviewers have recently voted the Walnut Hollow Creative Woodburner as one of the top models to use if you’re looking to improve your pyrography skills. This model allows you to take your sketching skills to a whole new level since it gives you better control over burn depth and line color. This happens easily because you’re able to control the temperature without any struggle. The temperature ranges between 600°F and 1000°F.

A specially designed tweezer helps you to easily remove and replace different-sized tips. This will prevent possible damage to the tips by removing them with the wrong type of tool. A convenient safety stand adds to the convenience of this unit.

Four different tips give you a wider range of choices to enhance your pyrography skills. It’s no wonder this model is so popular! Definitely an option for budding wood burn artists to consider!

Clean pen tips regularly: It’s advisable to clean the tip after every use. Regular cleaning will minimize the need for harsh and abrasive cleaning methods. Making use of a soft cloth or one of our other non-abrasive hints will eliminate condensed carbon build-up from forming on the pen tips.

Using quality pyrographic tips is essential to producing the perfect art. The good news is, if your tool tips are damaged or worn out from extensive use, the 23pcs Pyrographic Tip Kit is definitely for you.

The tool tips are made of a high resistance chromium alloy material which ensures no bending as well as much less carbon build-up. This is always a huge plus to keep maintenance low! These tips are not only suitable to use on wood but can be used on leather, gourd, bamboo and a whole host of other materials.

This awe-inspired kit is made up of 23 different tips which give the dedicated artist the option to create large-scale rendering, finer rendering and enhances the ability to draw even lines. These tips can conveniently be used with any 30W to 50W pyrography machine.

Final thoughts

Practicing the tips that we’ve mentioned will go a long way toward keeping your woodbuning tips in the best condition. Well maintained tips can easily prevent heating irregularities or smudging which could in turn ruin your creation.

The other advantage of proper maintenance of your wood burning tips is that it will increase the lifespan of your pyrography tools. It will also ensure that none of your exquisite artwork is ruined! How to clean wood burning tips is no longer something you’ll have to worry about, so become the expert artist you want to be!


Pyrography - Wikipedia
Pyrography or pyrogravure is the free handed art of decorating wood or other materials with burn marks resulting from the controlled application of a heated object such as a poker. It is also known as pokerwork or wood burning.
Jeweler’s rouge - Wiktionary
A mild red polishing abrasive made from finely ground iron oxide (rust), used by jewellers and lens-makers for finishing surfaces.
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