How To Handle Humidity…

Stop your sugar flowers from going soft and keep them looking fresh in any weather!

Humidity is a b*tch!

Please do pardon my language there, but there is no other way to put it! Nothing will put all your hard work at risk quite like high humidity, and it is just miserable to see your gorgeous sugar flowers and hours of work going soft and wilting…

Humidity is the amount of water vapour in the air, and it can be high on either hot or cold days. Weather reports will give a percentage figure, which represents the relative humidity – this is a percentage of the maximum amount of water the air can hold at a particular temperature. Imagine trying to dry your laundry on a very humid day… it’s the same for sugar flowers. Such a high moisture content in the air can lead to your sugarwork not drying, and/or re-absorbing moisture and becoming soft again. It’s no fun at all.

Here are my top tips for being prepared to combat humidity and keep your sugar flowers looking fresh…

1. Choose a good flowerpaste

Not all flowerpastes are the same, and as such some will handle humidity better than others. As with any type of sugarpaste, it will always be worth trying a few to find one that works best for you and your environment. There is nothing wrong with mixing two together to create your perfect blend, or with using a different flowerpaste depending upon the season. Of course I recommend and love working with our own Immaculate Confections flowerpaste – it’s soft and malleable, holds its shape, and whilst it dries firm, it’s not too brittle – why not give it a go : click for our Flowerpaste.

p.s – flowerpaste is the same as gumpaste, the name just depends on where in the world you are. Flowerpaste will have been specially formulated for making flowers and is not the same as regular fondant/sugarpaste with tylo or cmc added to it! This will never work properly for flowers, so make your life easier and get some proper flowerpaste!

How to Handle Humidity

2. Don’t add too much colour

When you add paste/gel colours to your flowerpaste, you are also adding moisture. Adding too much can make the flowerpaste soft, and thus less likely to dry out, and stay dried. You can combat this by using dusts in one of two ways: use dusts with your paste/gel colours to colour the paste, and/or use dusts to darken your colours once the pieces are made and dried. So for example, you could use our Leaf Green paste colour to create a medium green, and then make it darker by either adding in some Deep Green dust to the flowerpaste, or making the leaves and then dusting with Deep Green to make them darker afterwards. Let the dusts do the work!

3. Add more gums to your flowerpaste

Flowerpaste is nice and stretchy, which allows us to roll it thin and shape it etc… this is achieved by the addition of ‘gums’ into the paste. By adding more gums, you can make the flowerpaste stiffer and dryer, better able to handle the humidity. The most commonly used natural gum is Gum Tragacanth (say that after a few G&Ts!) or the man-made equivalent which is just as good, called CMC, also known as Tylose, Tylo, or GumTex. You will need to experiment with how much to add as it depends on the flowerpaste you start with, the colouring, and your environment. Do bear in mind that you will need to work quickly as the flowerpaste will set faster.

4. Get a humidity meter

This little gadget that tells you the humidity percentage is so useful as it lets you know what to expect from the day. I have become obsessed with checking the humidity in the studio! I now know what reading is good, and at what level I’m likely to start having problems… and when that happens I can take action. Being informed and understanding what’s happening and when is so important and empowering!

5. Open the windows…. or maybe don’t!

You’d be amazed at how much moisture you, your family, and your daily tasks produce! Whether it’s cooking, showering, hanging up the washing, or simply breathing, there are many things we do that pump moisture into the air, and with modern day double-glazing, we run the risk of sealing it in with us. With the help of my humidity meter, there are times when opening the windows to let some fresh air in and moist air out has been the best thing to do… That being said, do keep an eye on the local weather – if it’s more humid outside than inside, or actually raining, then opening the windows will let the humidity in – even if it’s hot indoors, keep them closed!

6. Use your oven to dry your flowers

If you have an electric fan oven, then you already have a great tool for drying your sugar flowers, and it’s especially useful if you are in a rush! Here’s how: Put the Fan ON, set the TEMP TO 50*C, and CRACK THE DOOR a few inches. As the temperature is so low, you can put in whatever polystyrene or sponge your flowers are on, it won’t melt. Usually, things will want an hour or two in the oven to dry out, but keep an eye and work out what works for you. You can also use the oven to re-dry flowers that have gone soft.

7. Invest in a Dehumidifier

A dehumidifier is an electric household appliance that sucks the moisture out of the air, thereby reducing the humidity. We have one (see below) and it’s a very useful piece of kit! It helps us control the environment inside the house and keep the moisture levels down, especially in the winter. We have a Meako DD8L, and have only recently had to replace the first one which we had for over ten years… and as a bonus it even has a special setting that helps to dry your washing!

8. Get a Food Dehydrator

A dehydrator is a kitchen countertop device that removes moisture from food, usually to preserve it (eg. dried fruit) that can also be used to dry flowerpaste items. I don’t have one of these as I find my oven works well enough, but I know people that have them and use them all the time.

9. Store in cardboard boxes with silica gel packets

The best way to store your flowers is in cardboard boxes, with silica gel packets. The box will help absorb moisture and allow the sugarwork to breathe a little, much better than being sealed inside a tupperware or similar. The silica gel packets, same as the little sachets that come with shoes and handbags, will also absorb moisture.

10. Use your airing cupboard

If things are especially damp and humid, you can store your flowers in the airing cupboard. This is the warm cupboard where your hot water tank lives, if you have one… for our Irish friends I’m talking about the hot press. From our many international students we’ve learnt that airing cupboards are predominately a western European thing, but if you do have one, you can use it to store your flowers, keeping them warm and dry.

I hope all that is useful and helps you to keep your sugar flowers looking fresh and in tip-top condition.
Take care my lovely flower family,

Natalie xx