Cleaning Chocolate Molds

Christina Durta2
@christina-durta2
02/09/12 07:47:03PM
8 posts

I just made a batch of chocolates that taste great, but have bloom. I am suspecting the problem is the molds were not properly cleaned as there was no bloom on the chocolate on the bottom of the chocolates. I have had similiar problems before.

Does anybody have a suggestion for how to clean the molds really well by hand (I don't have a dishwasher), or is there a good cleaning solution to use?

Thanks.


updated by @christina-durta2: 04/12/15 05:48:43AM
Ruth Atkinson Kendrick
@ruth-atkinson-kendrick
02/09/12 09:49:34PM
194 posts

Do not clean them! Use a hair dryer to melt the chocolate then wipe the outside of the molds with a soft towel. Use a cotton ball to polish the indentations.

Potomac Chocolate
@ben-rasmussen
02/10/12 09:06:24AM
191 posts

I don't think the cleanliness of the molds should cause bloom. Maybe if there was some chocolate still in the molds that the new chocolate mixed with, but I think that would be a relatively localized issue.

For cleaning, I follow Brad's comments either on this forum or on Chocolate Alchemy. He suggested cleaning with ammonium hydroxide, rinsing thoroughly and air drying. It really cuts through any chocolate remants and leaves the molds squeaky clean (literally).

I've tried using a hair dryer and cotton balls but got a lot of cotton ball lint in the molds. I've also tried washing in the dishwasher using ammonium hydroxide and vinegar in subsequent cycles, but it left a lot of residue and I ended up having to clean them by hand anyway.

Cleaning molds is the worst part of chocolate making, in my opinion. :)

Clay Gordon
@clay
02/10/12 10:03:13AM
1,680 posts

Ben -

For the benefit of other ChocolateLife members, can you post the link to Brad's discussion on mold washing?

Thanks - Clay




--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
Christina Durta2
@christina-durta2
02/10/12 10:19:38AM
8 posts

Thank you. I will look that up. Yes, I hate cleaning molds too. I went to a seminar at The Chocolate Academy in Chicago and Barry Callebaut states one of the reasons for bloom is the cleanliness of the molds. I know that alot of people say don't wash them, but for sanitation purposes I think they should. After all you are dealing with dairy products, not just cocoa butter.

Potomac Chocolate
@ben-rasmussen
02/10/12 10:27:20AM
191 posts

Currently, I only do dark chocolate, so I mostly clean them to make the bars look nice. :)

Interesting about Callebaut saying bloom could be caused by dirty molds. Did he explain why that could happen?

Christina Durta2
@christina-durta2
02/10/12 10:38:34AM
8 posts

I'll have to find the product literature that they gave me. I know it was on there. They listed all the causes of bloom, and that was one of them.

antonino allegra
@antonino-allegra
02/10/12 02:19:24PM
143 posts

thanks for the info! i also hate washing the molds extremely after a batch of 50 molds that has gone bad (bad, really bad blooming) and is faster to wash then just polish.

we use at the moment just warm water and dishwashing liquid but i will try the ammonium hydroxide,

what percentage per liter of water shall i use?

now a question about polishing the molds: my second best hobby!

i was thinking to buy a rotative brush (like the one that clean shoes at hotels) and put the softest brush you can find, would that work??

anyone ever tried?

i remember as trainee that was my job before go home: hours spent with cotton ball doing each little corner, nowadays seems impossible to ask the apprentice to do it...

Potomac Chocolate
@ben-rasmussen
02/10/12 02:25:42PM
191 posts

I generally dump about 1/2 cup - 1 cup ammonium hydroxide in a full sink.

Don't know about the rotating brush, but in one of those threads Brad mentions using a brush to clean stubborn chocolate. I use a very soft cloth with very little pressure.

Clay Gordon
@clay
02/10/12 02:27:06PM
1,680 posts

Ben -

Are you washing after every use? Or only when you need to.?

:: Clay




--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
antonino allegra
@antonino-allegra
02/10/12 02:31:12PM
143 posts

thanks!

i guess if you wash your molds so efficiently you don't need to sit there and polish like a maniac.

Potomac Chocolate
@ben-rasmussen
02/10/12 02:33:43PM
191 posts

I always have a release mark on my bars that leaves a little remnant on the molds. So, I always intend to do a quick wash after every use, but in practice it's when the molds really need it. It would be a lot easier and quicker if I did it every time, though.

Potomac Chocolate
@ben-rasmussen
02/10/12 02:51:52PM
191 posts

That's my thinking on the matter. :)

Christina Durta2
@christina-durta2
02/10/12 04:47:50PM
8 posts

I'm actually going to school right now to learn how to make molds via CAD/CAM/CNC. My hope is to use a different type of plastic that is water resistant and can withstand high heat and chemical soaps.

Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
02/11/12 02:43:27AM
527 posts

The plastic has already been invented and is currently used in the Chocolate Industry. It's called Polycarbonate. This is the defacto plastic used in commercial quality molds.

Cheers.

Brad

Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
02/11/12 02:47:59AM
527 posts

Ben;

If you have release marks, you're not letting the chocolate cool long enough. Well tempered chocolate will release itself from the molds, and allow you to make bars several times through the molds before you have to wash them.

Now having said that, if you don't have much detail in your molds, you should very seldom ever have to wash them. Our molds have lots of little tiny crevices and details where chocolate gets caught and doesn't come out. After a while we have no choice but to wash them.

Brad

Christina Durta2
@christina-durta2
02/11/12 06:42:05AM
8 posts

Yes, I understand that polycarbonate is mainly used, but there are other higher quality plastics that are being used internally by large confectionerycompanies that are not currently being offered.

Potomac Chocolate
@ben-rasmussen
02/11/12 10:42:33AM
191 posts

I'm using some pretty simple vacuum formed molds, which are kind of notorious for release marks. I've been able to minimize them with better cooling, but only rarely completely eliminate them. If left, the marks can add to the next batch's marks. I generally wait several batches before cleaning, but I think a quick dunk in an ammonium hydroxide solution and rinse after each batch would get the marks off without much effort.

Christina Durta2
@christina-durta2
02/11/12 03:55:36PM
8 posts

Thank you for your help. I'm going to try that.

Kate Hamilton
@kate-hamilton
02/16/12 08:51:19AM
4 posts

Ben

We also have release marks on our bars, and we leave overnight. The bars are released from the moulds but just seem to leave a mark, which intensifies after use - being in Scotland we dont ever have a cool issue! It may be the bars are cooling too fast if anything. The marks do rub off easily off, but annoying just the same. We use PETG moulds, and i know when we have tried polycarbonate, we dont have the same problem. Just the tooling costs for polycarbonate are a bit prohibitive - but thats where we are heading i think - to be rid of the release marks.

Kate


updated by @kate-hamilton: 09/08/15 04:03:24AM
Bayla Sussman
@bayla-sussman
02/16/12 10:02:22AM
10 posts

Instead of cotton balls, try cotton dish towels. The very thin ones work well. We use the warming cabinet, then wipe away residue. Seem to work pretty well. We don't wash every time.

Mike3
@mike3
02/20/12 02:36:27PM
63 posts

For those of you using ammonium hydroxide--are you buying it from a lab supply company or using ammonia from the hardware store? I tried some dilute ammonia and it didn't really cut the cocoa butter much, but i was worried about ruining my molds by using higher strength.

thanks

mike

Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
02/20/12 06:14:18PM
527 posts

There's a difference between ammonia and ammonium hydroxide. I don't know that I would recommend ammonia. I buy our ammonium hydroxicefrom a local commercial food wholesale store.

In the past I've used full strength (from the bottle), and it did no harm to the molds.

Be sure to wear protective gloves though.

Theresa DAngelo
@theresa-dangelo
02/20/12 07:10:32PM
2 posts

I have been told by a notable chocolatier not to wash them out but polish with a shammy cloth. If you cleam them too often, more than monthly you will break down the polycarbonate .

Mike3
@mike3
02/21/12 12:11:18PM
63 posts

Thanks for the reply Brad. I have a background in chemistry, so I was picturing ammonium hydroxide (lab grade, caustic), but then realized I couldn't find it as a cleaner so I thought maybe it was a nomenclature thing since NH3 + H2O <-> NH4OH.

I did find a company in Canada that supplies it, but only in Canada (unless I buy a truckload!). I will keep looking, but anyone in the US that can offer tips on a source, please let me know (I know of most of the lab supply houses, but they are generally pretty expensive when you want very pure/food grade solutions).

-Mike

Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
02/21/12 03:36:01PM
527 posts

Real Canadian Wholesalers (Similar to Real Canadian Superstore). Both Owned by Loblaw's. Hope that helps.

Mike3
@mike3
02/25/12 02:29:27PM
63 posts

Thanks Brad. I think I found some locally, hope its strong enough!

Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
02/26/12 01:28:57AM
527 posts

Our bars have a lot of fine detail, and are cleaned with water/Amonium Hydroxide on a regular basis. The same18 molds (3 bars per mold)have made over 60,000 bars in the last 3.5 years and stilllook like new. They are washed and then dried with a micro fibre cloth.

chocochoco
@chocochoco
02/26/12 09:57:52AM
56 posts

Hi Mike,

What is the company in Canada you found that it supplies ammonium hydroxide?

Thanks,

Omar

Mike3
@mike3
02/26/12 12:52:07PM
63 posts

They are called Kissner

Christina Durta2
@christina-durta2
03/19/12 11:00:59PM
8 posts

Interesting and yes I agree that the washing is a real pain. I went to a class with the technical advisor and they gave out Callebaut promotional materials. Inside it listed common reasons for bloom. Mold cleanliness was listed as a problem. Go figure.

Mike3
@mike3
03/25/12 11:53:50AM
63 posts

Well, the ammonium hydroxide i found locally apparently wasn't strong enough. Its 10% according to the label, and I started with very weak solution and increased the concentration until I literally couldn't stand to breath the fumes (even tried a few drops of full strength and that didn't do the trick). The result was that the chocolate/cocoa butter was dissolved, but instead of staying in solution it coated my molds completely when i took them out to rinse.

Brad/Ben---you're the only two that have confirmed using NH4OH, what concentration are you buying off the shelf?

Erica Rodriguez-Anthony
@erica-rodriguez-anthony
03/25/12 12:49:06PM
13 posts

CAN YOU SHARE PICS PLEASE? I MAY BE HAVING SIMILIAR ISSUES........

Erica Rodriguez-Anthony
@erica-rodriguez-anthony
03/25/12 02:46:52PM
13 posts

What exactly are the "make-up remover pads from walmart (less than $2 a pkg). They are soft cotton but don't leave the little fuzzies the balls do." Do you have a pic?

rene
@rene
03/25/12 04:52:45PM
23 posts

hot water and airgun ;-)

Clay Gordon
@clay
04/01/12 08:54:48PM
1,680 posts

Someone came to me asking about sourcing ammonium hydroxide. I can find semiconductor grade, 99.5% pure 29% dilution - but the MSDS is pretty frightening for a product at that concentration.

What are people sourcing for the original strength before diluting to what level?




--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
04/04/12 02:15:43PM
527 posts

CORRECTION:

A while ago I put a post in here that we use Ammonium Hydroxide to clean our molds. THIS IS WRONG!!! What I meant to write is that we use a solution of water anddegreaser containing SODIUM HYDROXIDE.

IT WORKS AWESOME, AND REQUIRES NO DRYING OF THE MOLDS, WHICH COULD POTENTIALLY OVER TIME CAUSE SCRATCHES IN THE POLYCARBONATE.

Sincerest apologies everyone.

Brad


updated by @brad-churchill: 01/19/15 02:24:20AM
Clay Gordon
@clay
04/04/12 07:49:15PM
1,680 posts

Ahhh, Brad - that makes so much more sense. I am glad this got straightened out - ammonium hydroxide is pretty nasty stuff. Not that sodium hydroxide (aka lye, caustic soda) is a cakewalk.

Please note, everyone, that this provides a very good reason to RTFM (that is, read the material safety data sheet, or MSDS) on any chemical you are considering using. I was looking at the MSDS for ammonium hydroxide and wondered what others knew about it that I couldn't find out.

In doing some follow up research on sodium hydroxide I ran across the following (Red Lightning degreaser), which might be a good (and perhaps safer and easier to handle) alternative for anyone who's at all skittish about using lye as a degreaser. I plan to try it - and I will let people know what I find out.




--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
04/04/12 10:13:42PM
527 posts

Don't use it straight. It can be considerably diluted in warmwater, removes ALL cocoa butter very nicely with almost no effort. The molds will feel slippery when being rinsed, and you'll see the water sheet right off of them. No spots. We take a bit extra care and use a hair dryer to blow off the remaining few spots.

Mike3
@mike3
04/04/12 11:36:17PM
63 posts

Yes, that does make more sense --- now to figure out what to do with half a gallon of janitorial strength ammonium hydroxide :) Glad this got sorted out before i started looking for the stronger stuff (I used to work with concentrated NH4OH at my old job and it fumes when you open the bottle...nasty stuff to use even with a fume hood.)


updated by @mike3: 09/08/15 04:06:55AM
rene
@rene
04/05/12 02:34:09AM
23 posts

brad...that's what i thought and was suspicious for :)

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