2017 © “Cakes by Vivienne”

“Cakes by Vivienne”

         Tips, Techniques and Tutorials for the Beginner Cake Decorator



Dusts are a type of decorating powder used in cake decorating to add colour and sparkle.  


The family of "decorative dusts" include petal dust, lustre dust, pearl dust, sparkle / rainbow dust, disco dust, and highlighter dust, but these dusts are not all the same. Although they are all used for cake decorating, they have different properties and produce different effects.

Lustre dust is tasteless and gives a subtle colour with a high sheen metallic finish.

Highlighter dust is non-edible with a high sheen gold or silver sheen. It is perfect for a high sheen metallic look on non–edible decorations.

Petal dust has a flat, chalk like finish and produces deep, strong colours. Petal dust is often used to decorate gum paste flowers because the matte appearance gives them a natural look.

Pearl dust imparts a sparkly, pearlescent finish with just a touch of colour. Pearl dust is translucent and can be mixed with petal dust to give decorations shimmer and sparkle without adding much colour.

Sparkle / Rainbow dust produces effects similar to Lustre dust, imparting colour and shine, but the sparkle dust grains are larger than the fine powder of the Lustre dust.

Disco / Pixie / Glitter dust has the largest grains of all, and can be compared in size to pieces of glitter. Disco dust is not subtle, so it works best on pieces that should "pop" and sparkle with a glittery finish.


There are many different brands of dust, and unfortunately, most of them are not individually labelled with ingredients. In addition, different shades within the same brand might contain different ingredients necessary to produce those shades.

So if the container is not labelled, the only way to be certain of the ingredients is to contact the company and inquire about the contents. That being said, common ingredients in many of the dusts are Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxide, Carmine, Chromium Oxide and Mica.  


This depends very much on the specific brand and specific colour. Most dusts are labelled "non-toxic," meaning that if you consume them they will cause no harm and will simply pass through the digestive system

Remember that just because something is not toxic does not mean it is intended to be edible. Usually the amount of dust consumed is so small that it is insignificant, but if you are concerned with ingesting trace amounts of metals or minerals, you should look for brands specifically labelled "Food Grade" or “Edible”.

In some cases, certain shades are not meant to be consumed at all, and these are clearly labelled "For Decorative Use Only" or “Not for Consumption”. In these instances, you should only use these on decorative elements that are not intended to be eaten.


Dusts can simply be brushed onto fondant and gum paste with a dry brush. Brushing dry onto your flowers or details creates a softer look.

If you want a more even application and more intense colour, mix the dust with alcohol (vodka is recommended) or an alcohol-based extract like rose spirit. It only takes a small amount of liquid, so start with a few drops and mix until runny. If it starts to run off the fondant, then you have added too much liquid and you need to add more of the dust. If it's too thin, it doesn't cover well.

High content alcohol is used as the mixer as it evaporates quickly. Do not try mixing dusts with water, as they are not water soluble and you will get a sticky mess.

For stronger effects, you can paint on multiple coats of dust, just be sure to let each layer dry in between applications.

Dusts can also be mixed with alcohol and used with a food-grade airbrushing machine. s

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