The unassuming heat gun, a handheld device that might resemble a hair dryer’s bulkier cousin, is very versatile and useful. From delicately shaping artful creations to melting away the stubborn shackles of old paint, the heat gun is a marvel of precision and power. In this article, learn about the fascinating realm of heat gun applications.
Household Uses for Heat Guns
Heat guns are versatile tools with a range of household uses. In the DIY world, small cordless heat guns come in handy for various projects. These devices can reach temperatures as high as 990 degrees Fahrenheit. Here are the ways you can use a heat gun in your home:
- Removing old wallpaper: When it’s time to replace old wallpaper, a heat gun can efficiently melt the wallpaper adhesive, making removal a much smoother process.
- Drying paint: If you’re redecorating or working on a painting project, one of the most time-consuming steps is waiting for the paint to dry. A heat gun can significantly speed up the home improvement process. Directing hot air at the painted surface allows you to dry the paint faster, enabling you to move on to the next coat or project. Alternatively, you can use heat guns to strip paint as well.
- Softening hard-to-remove materials: A heat gun is effective for softening materials that have hardened over time to make them easier to clean. For example, a heat gun can soften hardened candle wax or plumber’s putty for a quick cleanup.
- Removing stickers and labels: Removing stickers or labels from objects can be a real challenge and leave behind a sticky mess. By applying hot air to the sticker or label, it softens the adhesive, making it easy to peel away without any residue. This is especially useful for removing stickers from car windows or other hard-to-clean surfaces.
- Thawing frozen pipes: In colder climates, frozen pipes can be a common problem, leaving you without water or causing pipes to crack. Heat guns come to the rescue when thawing frozen pipes. By directing hot air at the frozen section of the pipe, you can gradually thaw it out and get the water flowing again. This method is safer and more efficient than using a blowtorch or an open flame.
- Shaping and bending PVC pipe: PVC pipes are known for their rigidity, but with a heat gun, you can make them more malleable. By directing hot air at the section you want to bend, you can soften the PVC and shape it as needed for your pipes.
- Loosening stuck bolts/nuts: Heat guns are effective at removing or loosening rusted or tight bolts and nuts by heating them. This is a great hack if you need something to repair at home and you’re having trouble opening it.
Unconventional Uses for Heat Guns
Think of these as life hacks – if you have a heat gun at home, you probably will want to try using it to do these things to make your life easier:
- Defrosting freezers: If you’ve ever had to defrost a freezer, you know it can be a time-consuming and messy task. However, a heat gun can simplify the process. You can quickly and efficiently melt the ice buildup by directing hot air at it.
- Roasting coffee: This might surprise you, but heat guns can also be used for roasting coffee beans. The process is straightforward – just aim the hot air at the beans so you can roast them to your desired level of darkness. Keep going until the beans start to crack and turn into coffee powder.
- Searing meat and roasting marshmallows: Heat guns can sear meat or roast marshmallows without the need for a pan. Fewer pans, less stuff to wash and clean!
- Drying wet shoes: If you’ve ever found yourself with soggy shoes after rain or stepping in a puddle, you understand the discomfort. Thankfully, a heat gun can quickly and efficiently dry your shoes. Just direct hot air at the inside of the shoe to make it comfortable to wear again.
- Waxing skis and snowboards: For skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts, keeping your equipment in top condition is crucial for safety on the slopes. Waxing your skis or board is one way to achieve this. While traditional methods involve using an iron, a heat gun can be a more efficient option. Simply direct hot air at the wax to melt it, then spread it evenly over your equipment’s surface.
- Phone screen repair: If your phone screen is damaged, a heat gun can help. By gently heating the surface using a heat gun set to a low temperature and held about eight to ten inches from the phone, the adhesive holding the screen in place becomes pliable. This makes it easier to carefully remove the damaged screen and prepare it for replacement or repair.
- Repairing games consoles: Electronics enthusiasts often use heat guns in console repair to solder or reflow components on a motherboard. The controlled application of heat ensures that soldered connections are reliable and secure. However, it’s essential to maintain the right temperature and focus the heat gun on the specific component that needs attention to avoid damaging other parts of the console.
- Refreshing black tires: Over time, black tires can lose their luster. Heat guns provide an effective solution by gently heating the plastic to bring out the natural oils, revitalizing the tire’s black color.
- Molding hockey skates: Hockey players often require custom-fitted skates for optimal performance. Heat guns are ideal for this purpose because they allow precise control over the area that needs molding. By heating only the specific part that requires adjustment, you can reduce the risk of deforming other components of the boot.
- Shining shoes or boots: Achieving a perfect shine on leather shoes or boots is made easier with the use of a heat gun. Hold the heat gun about one to two feet away from freshly waxed footwear and heat the wax until it melts and shines, penetrating the leather’s pores. As the wax cools, a hazy finish may appear. To achieve the desired shine, dip a clean cotton ball in water and rub it over the wax until the haze disappears.
- Waxing jackets: Applying wax to jackets can provide added protection and a unique look. After working the wax into the exterior of the jacket, a heat gun can be used to evenly distribute the wax. This process adds character to the jacket, bringing a consistent, soaked-in finish.
- Demisting headlights: Heat guns can come to your rescue when dealing with condensation inside vehicle headlights. By using a heat gun to evaporate the mist trapped inside the headlight casing, you can restore clear visibility. This is especially useful after heavy rain or when dealing with older headlights that may have developed leaks.
- Cleaning a grill: Cleaning a barbecue grill can be a challenging task due to the buildup of debris and food residue. Heat guns simplify this process by loosening the debris, making it easier to scrape off with a grill brush. Direct the heat gun’s airflow across the grill grates, and you can effectively break down and remove stubborn, baked-on grime.
Crafting Uses in Heat Guns
Heat guns can be an invaluable tool for a crafty DIY enthusiast. Here are the ways you can make the most out of it:
- Furniture makeover: Remove old paint and varnish from furniture surfaces and upcycle them with a new coat of paint. This works well for both wooden and metal furniture and can even help remove rust.
- Create an antique feel: Give modern furniture an antique appearance by using a heat gun to darken and age the wood. You can also achieve a shabby chic look by crackling paint on a ready-painted surface.
- Reshape plastic with heat guns: Heat guns release a stream of hot air that can turn rigid plastic into a moldable material, allowing you to shape it as you want.
- Soften or remove adhesives: When dealing with stubborn adhesives, simply aim the heat gun’s airflow at the adhesive to soften it, making removal a breeze.
- Melt crayons: Easily transform crayons into colorful creations by pointing your heat gun at them and letting the heat work its magic.
- Enhance candle making: Candle making requires precision, and heat guns can help even out wax imperfections, ensuring a smoother, more professional finish.
- Thaw water-based colors: Prevent your water-based colors from freezing in cold weather by using a heat gun to melt and revive them for your artwork.
- Perfect your embossing: Heat guns, with their controlled hot air flow, are ideal for adding intricate embossed details to your arts and crafts projects.
- Achieve crackle paint effects: Give your fresh paint a weathered, vintage appearance by applying glue and an additional coat, then use a heat gun for that desired antique finish.
- Smooth wax paintings: Correct uneven areas in crayon paintings by directing a heat gun over them to melt and even out the wax buildup.
- Remove stickers: Heat guns efficiently remove stickers and labels by softening the adhesive, making them easy to peel off.
- Erase crayon marks from walls: When kids turn walls into art canvases with crayons, a heat gun can melt the wax, allowing you to wipe it away with a cloth.
- Repair leather and vinyl: To mend leather or vinyl items, apply heat-activated glue, and then use your heat gun to activate the adhesive, sealing the cut or tear.
- Shrink-wrapping: While some may use hair dryers, heat guns prove to be a more efficient choice for shrink-wrapping tasks.
Other Applications of Heat Guns in Different Industries
Heat guns find applications in a wide range of industries due to their versatility and the ability to generate controlled heat. Some of the industries that commonly use heat guns include:
Construction and Building Maintenance
In the realm of construction and building maintenance, heat guns are invaluable. They are used for paint removal, stripping, and shrink wrapping. Also, they are used for softening materials, such as PVC pipes, making them pliable and adaptable for different construction and plumbing projects.
Heat guns are used in vehicle manufacturing, aftermarket modifications (like window tinting and decorative vinyl wraps), and auto body repairs. They help with tasks such as dent and scratch repairs, mold restoration, adhesive curing, loosening rusted or stuck bolts and nuts, shaping plastic components, and the removal of old adhesives, like bumper stickers and putty.
Electronics and Electrical
Heat guns are essential for precision tasks like soldering and desoldering electronic components to secure connections. Heat shrink tubing application aids in effective wire insulation. Furthermore, heat guns play a pivotal role in surface mount component rework, enabling the fine-tuning of intricate electronic systems.
They are used to soften PVC pipes, making them pliable for bending and seamless fitting. Additionally, heat guns are a go-to solution for thawing frozen pipes, efficiently restoring water flow, and preventing damage in cold climates.
This tool can be used to facilitate plastic welding, enabling the secure fusion of plastic components. Additionally, heat guns can expedite the drying and curing of paint, adhesives, and coatings. It can also be used for shaping thermoplastic materials, allowing the creation of custom parts tailored to specific requirements.
Packaging and Wrapping
Heat guns excel at shrink-wrapping products, ensuring their secure packaging and protection. Also, they prove essential for activating heat-activated adhesives, which play a pivotal role in sealing packages and providing secure closures, enhancing the overall integrity of the packaging process.
Heat guns play a vital role in building airplanes and spacecraft. They are used for tasks such as heat shrinking, soldering, sealing, cauterizing, binding, shaping, and attaching various materials. These processes are essential for constructing and repairing wire harnesses, circuit boards, and various components in the aviation industry.
Boat and yacht owners often use heat guns when applying vinyl coatings and personalized decorations. Proper application is crucial to ensure the vinyl remains intact, even in harsh marine conditions. Specialized heat guns equipped with temperature monitoring and guiding laser features are used to apply protective vinyl coatings effectively. This helps protect boats from potential damage caused by exposure to water, travel speed, and extreme weather conditions. Also, they are used to seal boat covers and upholstery.
Printing and graphics
As mentioned earlier, heat guns are great for removing vinyl graphics and softening adhesives for the easy extraction of graphic materials. Also, they are useful in heat-assisted lamination and finishing processes.
Horticulture and agriculture
In this area, heat guns offer practical solutions. They are employed for shrink-wrapping greenhouse structures providing protective coverings. Additionally, they prove valuable for thawing frozen irrigation lines, ensuring the uninterrupted flow of water. Moreover, heat guns aid in the softening and bending of plastic materials, enabling the creation of customized structures tailored to specific agricultural needs.
Medical and dental
Heat guns are helpful for medical and dental personnel, too. They are great for sterilizing and shaping dental equipment and activating heat-shrink tubing for medical devices.
The applications of heat guns can vary widely within each industry. The adaptability and precise heat control of heat guns make them valuable tools in various professional and hobbyist settings.
How to Choose the Right Heat Guns
Cheap heat guns often come with just one heat setting, which is suitable for basic paint stripping. If you’ll be using the heat gun occasionally or for straightforward tasks, a budget-friendly option with limited features might suffice. When selecting a heat gun, consider its shape and size, as these factors impact how well you can handle the tool, affecting both comfort and safety.
For more versatile use, it’s recommended to go for a heat gun with at least two power settings and the option for different temperature settings. This flexibility comes in handy when tackling various tasks. Additionally, think about whether a cordless or corded design is better suited for your specific job.
- How much heat do heat guns produce? Different types of heat guns generate varying levels of heat. Infrared heat guns, for example, produce heat between 400°F and 600°F, which is relatively safe. Industrial heat guns, on the other hand, can reach temperatures around 1800°F. Electric heat guns typically operate at 600°F to 1000°F, while gas-powered heat guns can reach 800°F to 1100°F.
- Are heat guns noisy? Heat guns tend to produce noise similar to that of an average, or sometimes quieter, hairdryer. The noise level depends on the model’s design and operation. Models with higher heat settings may be louder. The noise level primarily depends on how you use the heat gun.
- Can a heat gun start a fire? While the hot airflow from a heat gun is generally less hazardous than an open flame, aiming it at flammable objects, especially extremely flammable ones, can result in fires, broken glass, or damage. Heat guns may also pose a risk of ignition due to fan motors and power switches, so it’s essential to use them safely.
- Why does a heat gun produce smoke during operation? It’s common for a heat gun to emit smoke when it’s first used due to the burning of manufacturing oils or residual oil. This initial smoke typically dissipates within a minute or two. If the smoke persists after every use, it’s advisable to return the product to the seller or contact the manufacturer regarding the issue.
Heat guns are versatile and useful tools, applicable in both home and industrial settings. With a variety of options available on the market, it’s crucial to choose the right heat gun to suit your specific needs. Remember that safety precautions should always be taken when using these tools to help reduce the risk of burns and accidents. If you own an air compressor, too, it’s worth checking out its applications as well!