Now if there’s one thing that I’m known for, it’s glittering all the things! The first time I opened a jar of disco dust, it was game over - that shit was going on everything. If you’ve spent any amount of time in the cookie world, you know that there are several items for glitters and metallic dusts, and that everyone has an opinion on what should be used in terms of edible vs. non toxic.
When I opened my online supply shop, the goal was to provide both essential baking supplies along with those that are more of a novelty item. You know, the fun shiny ones! Edible art is meant to be enjoyable and a way to express yourself in the best way - eating obviously. There are SO many options when it comes to products and I wanted to ensure I was offering what people want, while also being clear about the intended use of each one with a lot of the misinformation that floats around.
To be honest, I had no clue in the beginning of my baking career that some of the products I was buying from bakery supply shops weren’t classified as edible. I figured because they sold them right along side all their other items, that there was no problem. My fault for not doing my research, but I believe that it’s also the retailers responsibility to be transparent about what they are selling.
I ended up choosing to offer The Sugar Art’s products for a few reasons and these are the products I’ll be focusing on when explaining the differences between the types.
First off, Ed and Holly are amazing people! They are very active on social media with their customers and provide so much information on their products and how to use them. Helps too that they are super likeable, love what they do and are great to do business with.
Second, they offer BOTH edible and non toxic options for glitter and metallics with no mystery as to which is which.
Third and final, their products are simply the best - vibrant, incredible pigments, shine and easy to work with.
So now, what is actually what in this world of disco vs diamondust, and highlighters vs paints? I’m going to break it down in the simplest of terms to keep it straight forward with no room for interpretation. And to be clear, I personally use all of the products. I am not biased either way, I love it all! Yes, I sell them too, but am creating this resource as a landing point for many of the questions that people have about them, so that everyone can make their own educated decision as to what they want and feel comfortable using. It’s just like bottle vs breast feeding (yeah, I’m taking it there). We all do it differently and everyone is JUST FINE! If you do have strong opinions, that’s totally cool. Make decisions for yourself and be responsible for relaying your knowledge of products available to your customers if your are selling your baking.
** I’m turning off the comments section of this post intentionally, so it doesn’t become a spot for any conflict. There’s a lot of other places online for that, this isn’t one of them. No glitter shaming here! So here we gooo...
What does non toxic actually mean?
Non toxic means that it’s not classified as edible and has no nutritional value. It cannot be digested and will not cause harm or long-term gastrointestinal damage.
How do I know if a product is edible?
An edible product must have three things; a lot number, expiration date and ingredient list.
First in the ring:
DISCO VS DIAMONDUST
Disco dust (goes by other names too, but this is the main one) is a non toxic glitter item used to add sparkle to baked goods. Nothing adds the intense sparkle of a disco dust. You can apply it immediately to wet icing and it will not lose its shimmer. It is intended for pieces that would be removed prior to eating, but many decorators use it lightly on any area their baking.
Diamondust is a 100% edible glitter, FDA approved and kosher certified. Unlike disco dust, its a larger particle and cannot be applied to wet icing or it will absorb and lose its sparkle. You can either wait until your icing is crusted over to apply it, or lightly spritz fully dry icing with a mix of water and corn syrup before applying. It is a topical application and must remain above the surface to reflect the light. Intended for the heavy handed glitter lover, so sprinkle away!
Both products are available in a wide variety of colours, and add a beautiful sparkle to your edible art!
On the left is disco dust, it more embedded in the icing when applied at the flood state and has an intense multi colour sparkle. To the right is diamondust which is applied as a layer above the icing and has more of a monotone classic sparkle.
HIGHLIGHTER VS STERLING PEARL
Highlighter dusts are a paint like product that leave a true metallic finish. They non toxic and DO contain metal. To activate them, you mix the dust with a high content alcohol such as everclear. The alcohol turns the powder to liquid form so you can paint it, then evaporates when applied to leave the sheen. Neither the alcohol nor the dust leaves an aftertaste. This product is intended for ornamental areas or keepsake items that will be removed before eating, like a bow for example. They are still commonly used for small detail sections or as a splatter effect on pieces that are consumed.
Sterling Pearl metallic coloured dusts are a great alternative to highlighters. They do not give the true metallic finish of a highlighter, but a gorgeous final look none the less. They are 100% edible, FDA approved and kosher certified. The dust can be activated with regular proof vodka, which again evaporates leaving just the colour with no aftertaste. They are intended to be used on any baked item, in any capacity.
Gold from the left: Highlighter, Sterling Pearl Super Gold, Sterling Pearl Wedding Gold.
Silver from the left: Highlighter, Sterling Pearl Nu Silver.
You can see here the side by side difference where highlighter gives a true metallic finish, while sterling pearl gives a more matte but pearly shimmer. Both beautiful in their own rights!
Now I could go on into other products like edible vs non toxic markers - but I think you get the point now. It really comes down to what you are using the product for, and the desired outcome. Keep in mind that the actual amount of product that is on applied is usually pretty minor in the grand scheme of it all.
Important note - In some states, you must use fully edible products when selling baked goods or you can lose your licence. Look into your local cottage food laws to ensure you are aware of the guidelines that apply to you.
Hopefully the information is this post answers your questions as to what these products are, and the terms associated with them and other products in the baking industry. It’s important to be educated about all products you use for your baked goods, and make your own decisions accordingly. The products included in this post can be found in my online shop, Cookie Couture and of course through The Sugar Art directly.