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How to take care of your handpan

September 01, 2022 3 min read

If you maintain your instrument properly, it will stay in good condition for a long time. Handpan maintenance is classified into 3 areas which are cleaning, protection and rust treatment.

What to avoid

  • Do not drop your handpan. 
  • Do not let it get wet or put it in a wet case.
  • Do not play it roughly.
  • Do not leave it in a bag for a long time.
  • Avoid touching the instrument with dirty fingers
  • Do not play with the flat of your hand.
  • Do not play with sticks.
  • Remove rings and bracelets before playing. 
  • Exposure to salt can accelerate rust. When playing on the beach, clean your handpan quickly after and put it in the case.
  • Do not place it where it is exposed to heat. The tuning always changes a little in terms of hertz depending on the temperature. This will not permanently change the tuning or damage the instruments.

Protect your handpan from rust

Taking care of your steel drum is not a time consuming exercise. All it takes is a good routine and a few simple things to remember to keep your pan well maintained.

  • Use a microfiber cloth and wipe it after each use.

  • Take the instrument out of its bag and keep it in a clean and dry place. 

  • Be sure to dry your handpan (including the inside). 

  • Moisture bags are a good addition if you live in a humid climate. Placing one of these inside the container will allow you to remove moisture from the inside, in hard to reach places. Having one in your bag for travel will also help prevent moisture build-up while travelling with your instrument.

  • To maintain the look and sound of your instrument, treat your handpan with a natural oil. The oil protects the material from external influences. Put a few drops of oil on the container and use a microfiber cloth to spread the oil gently and evenly over the entire surface. 

  • You can use an oil made exclusively for handpans like pheonix oil, …. or Balistol oil, olive oil, coconut oil or sunflower oil. However, these will leave a sticky coating so keep it light.

Cleaning handpan

  • Every two or three months, clean the handpan with alcohol. The objective is to remove any traces that may have remained after the numerous dry cleanings performed with each use. Take the time to scrub the outside, the edges, but also the inside. Note that if you have just oiled your handpan, the alcohol will remove most of it. It is a good idea to clean with alcohol before oiling your instrument.

Remove rust from you handpan

The steel of the handpan being generally nitrided is protected in part by rust. In reality, this is mostly a very effective "rust prevention", as nitriding only slows down the process and does not prevent rust. Also, any long-term deterioration of the steel will negate the effects of nitriding over time. Don't worry if rust appears on your instrument, it will not affect the sound quality of your handpan. 

If rust spots appear on the handpan, proceed as follows: 

  • Apply a good quantity of rubbing alcohol on your cloth and wipe your handpan. Don't forget to do it on both sides of the handpan, on the edge and inside. Insist on the dirty or stained parts.
  • If you find rusty areas, or persistent stains on your handpan, slightly dampen your sponge with a little water and using the abrasive part, start to gently scrub your handpan to remove the rust without damaging the entire surface treatment.
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  • For larger rust stains, use the "Miracle Cloth" or .... Scrub gently in a circular motion over each rust stain. This will remove the rust and remove the oxidation layer on your handpan. Another solution would be to use a rust remover like WD-40 which will leave a different color mark.
  • If you have done the previous operations, clean the residues that have been deposited on your handpan
  • Pour a few drops of natural oil or an oil specifically dedicated to the handpan such as Phoenix oil, Metal Sounds oil or Isthmus oil, on your handpan and spread it on the entire surface of your instrument with a soft cloth. 
  • Finally, wipe off the excess oil with a soft, clean, dry cloth.
alexandre zunino
alexandre zunino

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