Heat guns might have the same shape and even sound just like as a hair dryer, but the two are vastly different.
Some people mistakenly think you can use a hair dryer in place of a heat gun and get the same results.
The truth is, there are very few occasions when you can swap one out for the other. Let’s look at the similarities and differences between the two to really understand why you can’t just use a hair dryer instead.
When you get down to the basics, both a heat gun and a hair dryer work in pretty much the same way.
Air blows over a heating element and comes out through the barrel. They both have the same basic shape and make the same kind of noise. They even have some of the same controls with high and low settings.
The major difference between the two is the high temperature they can reach.
Hot air guns have a temperature range of about 100 to 13oo degrees F. Hair dryers, on the other hand, can only reach about 140 degrees when set on the highest setting.
This is obviously a huge difference and it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. After all, a hair dryer was designed to dry hair. Anything hotter than 140 degrees runs the risk of injury and you certainly wouldn’t want something as hot as a hot air gun anywhere near your face and hair.
Most of the common jobs that heat guns are used for require pretty high temps. For example:
- Removing floor coverings, minimum 350 degrees
- Removing paint, minimum 750 degrees
- Drying paint, minimum 250 degrees
- Frozen locks, minimum 350 degrees
- Removing rusted bolts, minimum 1150 degrees
- Bending plastic, minimum 250 degrees
- Defrosting refrigerator, minimum 250 degrees
- Frozen water pipes, minimum 1150 degrees
As you can see, a hair dryer doesn’t come anywhere close to being able to meet those minimum temperature requirements. It’s clear that, for heavier jobs, a heat gun is really the only option.
When you can use either one
Let’s go back to the temperature range for heat guns. We saw that the low end of their range is around 100 degrees. Since hairdryers can heat up to around 140 degrees, that means there is a little bit of overlap there.
Technically, if you’re working on a project that needs heat of 100 to 140 degrees, a hairdryer can do in a pinch. Some of these jobs include:
- Removing labels and stickers
- Molding plastic glasses frames
- Removing candles wax from floors and tables
- Removing crayon marks from walls and furniture
While you can use a hair dryer to do some other things, like speed up the removal of paint that’s already started to peel up or to dry a new coat, we don’t really recommend it.
Because it’s just not what a hair dryer is made to do. A hair dryer motor was not meant to run continuously for the amount of time needed to perform most of these tasks. It will quickly overheat and sustain damage if you use it for these jobs regularly.
Another reason that we prefer a heat gun is the nozzle. Heat guns have a much more concentrated airflow than hair dryers do. They’re more efficient because the air isn’t being scattered around like it is with a hairdryer.
But here’s the thing, hairdryers were designed to scatter air!
It’s much more effective to dry your hair with a wider stream of air than a narrow one. (It’s almost as if each of these tools was designed with a specific purpose in mind. Hmm.)
Other Uses for a Hair Dryer
There are also some things that a hair dryer can do that a heat gun is just a little too hot for. Here are some creative ways to use a hairdryer:
- Dry off vegetables after washing
- Get dust out of hard to reach places
- Removing a stuck screw (not rusted)
- Remove contact paper
- Remove adhesive wallpapers and murals faster
- Dry wet nail polish
- Stretch out a pair of shoes that are too tight
- Get wrinkles out of clothes in a pinch
- Defrost meat of vegetables that you took out of the freezer
- Remove water rings from furniture
- Warm up your bed under the covers
- Heat up an eyelash curler
- Warming waxing strips
As you can see, a hair dryer can come in very useful in a lot of different ways. Each of these tasks makes the most out of a hair dryer’s heat without expecting too much from it. Plus, a heat gun would be way too hot to do most of these small jobs without caused injury.
While you can’t really say a heat gun and a hair dryer are interchangeable, they can be used for some similar things. You’d never use a heat gun to dry your hair and you’d never be able to remove a rusted bolt with a hair dryer, but for some jobs that require lower temperatures, either one is acceptable although a heat gun is usually preferred.
While there are a lot of things a hair dryer can’t do, there are just as many things that a heat gun can’t handle, too. The biggest difference is temperature. Do you want to peel off layers of old paint from your walls? Use a heat gun. Want to warm up wax strips? A hair dryer is the perfect tool.
As with most tools, which one is better depends on what you want to do with it. That said, if you have any inclination to take on a big project, we suggest you invest in a heat gun and leave the hair dryer to those random odd jobs around the house.
If you’re in the market for a heat gun but aren’t sure where to start, take a look at some of the best heat guns on the market. There, we go over the best products and let you know what’s good about them, what’s bad about them, and who they’re made for. Plus, we covered all the things you need to know before buying a heat gun so you can be confident you made the right decision.