Mar 17

40 comments

How to Prevent Your Tips from Clogging and What to Do if it Happens – Top 10 tips

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We’ve all been there… Having fun decorating with royal icing until the piping tip clogs up.  A zen experience becomes a frustrating one.  (Okay zen might be going a bit too far, but I find decorating an enjoyable and relaxing experience).

Anyways, how can you avoid icing clogging in your piping tip?

You can use squeeze bottles instead; many people swear by them, but if you want to use a smaller hole for finer details, piping or pastry tips are ideal.

I should mention that the clogging usually happens with smaller tips anyways. For example tips #000, #00 and tip#1.

I should also mention that I’ve spoken to a few people who use parchment cones (Peggy Porschen for example), who say that the clogging generally doesn’t happen with them.  I’m not a huge fan of the parchment cone though (in fact I think I’m still afraid of them), so I’m going to have to stick with piping tips.

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So, here are my top tips for avoiding clogging in piping tips.

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How to Prevent Royal Icing from Clogging Your Piping Tips

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1. Use a sieve to sift your royal icing when you’re making it.

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2. If your royal icing has meringue powderor cream of tartar like one of the recipes I use (click here), make sure the little bits and balls of meringue are all dissolved before you add the icing sugar.


3.  It’s best to use fresh icing.  The longer it sits, the more time it has to separate.

The water and icing sugar separate; meaning that you can be left with a somewhat dry layer of icing sugar and a watery layer.  You’ll have to mix it up again to use it, and it’s difficult to make sure it’s perfectly smooth.

If you do end up keeping your icing for a few days or more, I’d recommend putting it back in your mixer quickly before you use it, to try and ensure all ‘lumps’ are out.

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4.  Gently paddle the icing with a spatula to ensure or double-check that all lumps or bumps are gone.  This can easily be done with smaller batches of icing you’re coloring.  If you’ve followed the previous steps there are usually none.

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5. Use a nylon to ‘sift’ the icing.  Yes, a clean, never-been-used-before stocking or nylon!

I’d heard of the tip from my talented cookie decorator friend, TracyLH, before and saw it demonstrated at a piping class I took at the Bonnie Gordon School.  Jenny Maw, our instructor showed us how:

a) Begin by putting the icing into the nylon, but don’t push it down all the way to the end (or the foot).  Keep it about mid-way.  Hold on to the nylon by the ‘foot’ and the ‘opening’.  Here’s what that looks like:

b) Put the ‘nylon ball of icing’  into the opening of your piping bag, close the opening by squeezing your hand shut over it, and pull on the nylon so that the icing squeezes through the nylon and into the bag.

Voila!  Ready to go!

Now, I don’t do this for all my icing – it would take way too long!  It’s great for the tiny tips; #000, #00and #1 and was perfect for the finer piping we were doing in the Bonnie Gordon School Piping Class.

Here’s an example of royal icing lacework I made there.

 


6. Rest your decorating tips in a damp cloth or damp paper towel between uses to prevent the icing in the tip from crusting over.  Alternatively, use coupler covers, or, if using squeeze bottles, remember to seal the opening with the lid.

6b. Make your icing a little bit runnier than the usual 10 second rule icing. (See 10 Second Rule Video)

 

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What To Do If Your Piping Tip Has Clogged

 

Okay, so it’s happened – you’re piping tip is clogged.  What should you do to fix the problem?  Here are 4 quick tips:

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One more quick note; avoid trying to just squeeze and force the icing out.  The piping bag can pop, especially if you’re using a disposable bag.

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I hope you liked these!  Let me know what you think or drop me a line sharing some of your own tips in the comment section.  Would love to hear from you!

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Happy piping!

xo,

Marian

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40 Comments

  1. TracyLH
    March 17, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Permalink
    1

    Thank you so much for the mention, my friend! This is one of my top “must do’s” when working with small tips. I probably pulled out half of my hair before trying this stocking idea. LOL

  2. Kara
    March 17, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Permalink
    2

    Thankk-you for letting me know that it isn’t just me!!
    I’ve tried everything I could think of, but still got clogged up with a #1 tip. Now I know what to try!

  3. Cyndi
    March 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Permalink
    3

    Thank you SOOOO much for the pictures of the “stocking trick”, Marian!!! I’ve read about it numerous times on CC and Flickr, yet I guess I never really understood exactly how it was done. Seeing the visual and how easy it really is makes me want to run to the dollar store and buy their full stock of pantyhose!!!

  4. March 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Permalink
    4

    Thank you for the tips! Your royal icing lacework is beautiful!

  5. Mireya
    March 17, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Permalink
    5

    thanks SO much for these wonderful tips! i get SO frustrated at times… i’ll be on a roll decorating my cookies and all of a sudden a clog and those small tips sometimes not even a pin can get them out. THANKS!!!

  6. June (lovecake)
    March 17, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink
    6

    Oh, how fascinating to see the legendary “stocking tip” demonstrated in the flesh! Doesn’t seem so daunting now, to do it inside a piping bag is genius. I’m glad I saw this before ever attempting how I thought it was supposed to be done, LOL!

  7. March 17, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Permalink
    7

    Wow, I’ve never heard of that stocking trick before. I must say, it’s interesting to say the least. I never leave my icing sit uncovered for more than a minute or two. Even parchment bags and pastry bags with mini tips need to be put in an air-tight container while not being used to prevent the icing from drying out and becoming clumpy. Air is the worst emeny of royal icing before the design process is complete. After it’s complete, I find the icing can never dry fast enough. lol. Just sayin’

  8. March 17, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Permalink
    8

    What great tips! The nylon…wow!!!

  9. March 17, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Permalink
    9

    I stick a toothpick in the tip if it gets clogged. Better yet, I bought a bunch of extra couplers, and I always use couplers when I work with royal icing so I can change the tip size on a whim. It’s equally easy to just take the tip off, wash it with warm water, and replace it.

    Great tips as always! Thank you!

  10. March 18, 2010 at 7:05 am | Permalink
    10

    Beautiful work! Thanks for posting all the helpful tips! My favorite is the nylon stocking : ) I actually learned of that trick when I was 9 yo and taking my first cake decorating class. It sounded so bizarre to me back then as a kid, LOL!

  11. Kelley
    March 18, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink
    11

    Wow, that trick with the nylon stockings is pretty awesome! I’m going to use that next time I have to pipe very small details.

    Also: I’m a fan of using paper cones, but only when I have to pipe fine details. The paper cone is easier to handle when you’re working with a small amount of royal icing, like you would use for piping small details (like a 1 or 0 tip size). Plus, with a cone, you can choose exactly how big you want the piping hole to be. ;)

  12. March 18, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Permalink
    12

    GREAT tip! I wanted to share another one that I just figured out. I use a Stick blender with the beater end on it to re-mix my icings when they have sat for a bit. It is so convenient easy. Practically no clean up! Stop by my blog for pictures.

    http://www.lstonedesigns.blogspot.com

  13. March 18, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Permalink
    13

    I keep the zen alive by having lots and lots of tips with my couplers – if the tip gets clogged just grab another and carry on!

  14. March 19, 2010 at 5:09 am | Permalink
    14

    Ha ha… Thanks for keeping the ‘zen alive’ tips everyone!

  15. March 19, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Permalink
    15

    Thanks for the tips, really good ideas.

  16. March 21, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Permalink
    16

    That’s a great tip with the stocking. I usually use hot water when I make the icing. I think this helps dissolve clumps, but I always wind up with on or two.
    Another tip is to cover the bowl of icing with a damp towel. This keeps the top moist and keeps the icing in the bowl from getting any crust at all!!
    Just my 2 cents!!

  17. March 24, 2010 at 6:06 am | Permalink
    17

    Great tips! Tracy’s idea is one of the best in the COOKIE world :D

  18. Maryann
    April 6, 2010 at 7:57 am | Permalink
    18

    Thanks for the photo tutorial on the nylon trick!! Tracy had told me about it and I was doing it wrong and wasting so much icing!!! I just had a DUH moment when I saw the photos!! Thanks for making my life easier!! Your blog is wonderful, by the way!!!!!!

  19. April 25, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Permalink
    19

    Thanks Evelyn! No I don’t sell them, but check out the cookie decorator’s directory on the top right hand side of my blog for a place you can buy decorated cookies!

    Here’s the link:
    Cookie Decorator’s Directory

  20. evelyn
    April 25, 2010 at 7:22 am | Permalink
    20

    My God you have a great talent. Do you sell these cookies? if you do how do we order them.

  21. Roberta Gavigan
    June 10, 2010 at 2:06 am | Permalink
    21

    Honestly Marian, I just found your website today and I am astounded. You are awesome. I love decorating and find all of your posts enlightening and interesting to say the least. Thank you so much for all of your explanations and tutorials. I am now a fan and will continue to check out what your up to!

    You’re Awesome!

  22. Andi
    March 28, 2011 at 4:54 am | Permalink
    22

    Hi Marian,

    What brand of tips do you like to use? The ones I purchased have either rusted on the inside over time or curl the icing as I’m piping. I’ve been looking at the more expensive PME tips (stainless and seamless) so I’m just wondering if you use those as your piping is always so perfect.

    Thanks!

    Andi

    • marian
      March 28, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Permalink
      23

      Hi Andi,
      I have definitely come to prefer the PME!

  23. August 29, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink
    24

    So helpful, Marian!! Thank you so much for this post and for your help, you are always so kind :D

  24. August 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink
    25

    My pleasure, @ IFeelCook :)

  25. March 13, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink
    26

    I have the curling problem as well!! it drives me mental!!! i can never tell if it’s because of a lump or if perhaps my icing is too thick!?
    Any suggestions?!

  26. Angel
    March 30, 2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink
    27

    So I am not the only one crying at times ;)
    Thanks for the panty hose trick. I will give it a try. Had a very frustrating night last night and feeling a bit defeated with cookie decorating. Will give these tips a try. Thanks so much.

  27. sophdobe
    April 23, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink
    28

    Hi Marian,
    Thank you so much for this great tutorial!
    I just tried the stocking method and I ended up with a huge solid lump of icing in my stocking and they aint’ going no where! No matter how hard i squeeze the stocking, the solid lump of icing just becomes more solid :(
    Any idea what I am doing wrong?
    Thanks

  28. marian
    April 23, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink
    29

    HI @ sophdobe: Sounds like the icing may be a bit thick. Thin it out and give that a try. xo

  29. sophdobe
    April 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink
    30

    @ marian:
    Thanks for the tip! I’ll try again with a thinner batch :)

  30. Courtney
    May 16, 2013 at 2:48 am | Permalink
    31

    I have became confident with my decorating skills and have found my icing consistency “happy place.” Your blog has been a source of support throughout my journey, Thank You! That said, I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather ask about what is stifiling my efforts to some more advanced design and detail work of which are necessary to produce the designs and styles that inspired me to learn. I was so excited to get my PME 00 and 0 tips only to find I can’t work with them. I have used every top bloggers tips and tricks and used every consistency of icing to no avail. My icing either curls, clumps or spreads. I have found no happy medium. I love my icing recipe it works great for everything else. Every time I prepare icing to try again I ruin a few cookies and am so frustrated!! I long to type delicate strings tiny uniform dots and gorgeous mehndi inspired patterns. Any suggestions or tips specifically for the smallest of small tips?

  31. marian
    May 16, 2013 at 7:48 am | Permalink
    32

    Hi @ Courtney: It’s difficult for me to guess without seeing the icing, but I’ll suggest this… How about making your icing a little bit runnier, and see what happens.

  32. Gina
    October 9, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink
    33

    Hello Marian, I have a question, by any chance do you or someone else that you will know, could sale me one or two tip #000 from PME? Thank you for your time.

    • marian
      October 9, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Permalink
      34

      Hi Gina,
      I only have the one (and I think it’s a #00), but maybe if you post that you’re looking to buy one on my Facebook page, someone might answer.

Show Pingbacks & Trackbacks

  1. [...] [...]

  2. [...] My favourite piping tip is #1.5 made by PME. It’s fine enough to be able to pipe details, but large enough so that it doesn’t clog like piping tip #’s 1, #0 or #00 often do. If you don’t have access to the #1.5, #2 is the next best thing (in my humble opinion). One thing to note – If you’re using a tiny piping tip, such as #00, #0 or #1 you should let the icing come together (See Consistency Video), at about the 5 second mark, instead of the 10 second mark. You might also want to check the post on Avoiding Clogging in Piping Tips. [...]

  3. By How to Pipe Lace on Cookies on January 26, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    [...] PME#1.5 tips are your friends.  You can use use #1 and #0 tips to create a finer design, but I don’t have the patience for pantyhose and clogged tips, so I use the PME’S.  THEY ARE MAGIC!  However, if you are DEAD set on smaller tips, Sweetopia has a great post on managing clogs HERE. [...]

  4. By Tip for No Clog “0″ and “00″ PME Tips on February 1, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    [...] for the icing.Before this next step, I want to thank Tracy LH for showing me how to do this.  Sweetopia also has a tutorial on her site. I asked her if she would mind if I did my own tutorial and she [...]

  5. [...] lots of troubleshooting for clogged tips. I just got so excited I could care less. Here are some  tipsfrom Sweetopia in case it’s a fuss. For the smaller details, I used a damp paintbrush and [...]

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