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Soldiering Iron Brand

I had always been fascinated with scars, more so the process of getting a scar, and I had done many small "play cuttings" on various parts of my body.  I loved what the scar represented, the beauty of surviving the pain.  I had also always know of brandings but had never seen one and was very interested in  how it would feel to get one, what it would look like once it was done, how it would heal, pretty much everything about them.  I knew that with cattle they branded them with the whole design at once, but I rationalized that if you wanted something more intricate you would need to "draw" it on because it seemed like you would lose detail if you tried to do it like a stamp. 

Well I am a student at small university where I study Electronics Engineering and one day about a year ago I was working on a project for school; it was a 16 Segment LED / PIA interface for an x86 processor...Anyway I was soldering all of these wires on a piece of perf-board and I thought to myself, "This soldiering iron is pretty hot...I bet it would work for a brand."  So I decided to try. 

Ok, before I go any farther with my story I want to put in a disclaimer including things that came to my mind later.  First soldier is lead-based.  It's most likely not a good idea to put holes in your skin with anything that may have traces of lead on it, regardless of the cauterization.  Not to mention that soldier also contains flux (a chemical that lets it flow easier) which can't be good for you either.  Second the soldiering iron was a cheap one that they gave us in a kit at school that didn't have any kind of temperature setting so the heat of the iron was terrible inconstant and it would cool down when I put it on my skin and not burn as well. 

Back to the story.  I pull off my shirt and decide to put an 'X' over my heart.  I steady myself with the iron in hand because I have no idea what this is going to feel like.  Slowly, I draw the 'X'.  The iron leaves surprisingly light lines, so I trace it again and the lines are only a little more noticeable.  At this point the hair on my chest is melting and curling over the lines and making it extremely difficult to see so I have to stop, get a razor and shave the hair form that spot.  This is no simple task because shaving over a fresh burn is quite unpleasant!  I then go back to branding myself, but, as I said before, the iron cools very quickly when it is against my skin causing the burn to be shallower than I thought that it should be so I have to keep tracing over the brand.  After a total of six passes with the iron I give up and decide that it's as good as it's going to get. 

Even though I was a little discouraged initially, once I got to see it in the mirror I was VERY pleased with the final product!  Though I really had nothing to judge it against, I thought it looked amazing!  I picked the scab after about a week and then whenever it "needed" it after that; I wanted to induce scarring, but not an extreme amount.  I wanted it to be noticeable, but not look like the "wormy" sort of scars that some people get after an operation.  There are only two people, other than myself who know that I have it and I kind of like it that way.  Don't get me wrong I am proud of it, but it isn't for anyone else, I did it for me! 

It wasn't until recently on the BMEzine that I was able to see other brandings after they had healed and I must say that I am very proud of how mine turned out and even more proud of the fact that I had the balls to do it myself without having ever seen one before. Mine looks every bit as good as the ones that people had done professionally.  Though it is worth the money if you make sure that you go to a safe place and they know what they are doing! 

If I had it to do all over again I would have done it in a safer way with better equipment.  I would definitely take care to ensure that I didn't give myself lead poisoning, or flux poisoning, but I couldn't hope for better results!  The next thing I want is to have someone else perform a scarification on me with some skin removal.  I will definitely keep everyone updated on that!

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 02 Dec. 2004
in Scarification

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