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How to clean bits, spurs and Stirrups from Sweet Iron

In this blog post you will learn how to best clean and care for your Sweet Iron bit .

What is actually Sweet Iron?

Sweet Iron is the typical material in the Spanish Doma Vaquera riding style. So not only bits and curb chains are made of this material, but also spurs. For the buckles of the beautiful Doma Vaquera bridles and the nose irons on the cross bridles they also use burnished iron. To be precise, burnished iron is actually steel, and steel is largely made of iron. Nevertheless, in the general linguistic usage burnished iron or even Sweet Iron has become generally accepted. Both iron and steel have the property of rusting as soon as they come into contact with moisture. In equestrian sport, for example, this would be through sweat or saliva of the horse. Due to the rust, which forms for example at a Sweet Iron bit , the bit develops a sweet taste, which then promotes the chewing activity of the horse.

The steel, which is initially silver in color, is coated with an extremely thin layer of burnish by immersion in a molten salt. This burnished layer provides a slight rust protection of the material and the characteristic black-brown color. The characteristic of rusting also means that a bit made of Sweet Iron requires special care, unlike, for example, a bit made of stainless steel.

The daily care of your Sweet Iron bit

Daily care of a bit after use usually involves washing it down with water. It may also be dried with a clean cloth and then hung back in the tack room. For the Sweet Iron bits, a slightly different procedure is recommended.

Due to the fact that these bits rust, it is sufficient to simply wipe them dry after riding. An old tea towel is best suited for this purpose. The Sweet Iron bit and if necessary the side pieces are simply wiped dry with the tea towel. Afterwards, you can hang it back in the saddle cabinet. Depending on the degree of soiling, the tea towel should be washed regularly in the washing machine.

The intensive care of your Sweet Iron bit

If the Sweet Iron bit is used regularly, deposits caused by saliva residues will form over time and rust will also form. In this case, intensive cleaning of the bit is recommended.

In the first step, the bit should be cleaned with a little water to remove the coarse impurities. Then allow the bit to dry.

Curb Bit from Sweet Iron before intensive cleaning at Picadera
Before intensive care: you can clearly see the rust buildup on the Curb Bit

The second step is to apply some olive oil to the bit . It does not necessarily have to be olive oil, any other vegetable oil is also suitable for this. The olive oil is put on a soft cloth, do not skimp on the oil and then applied to any nooks and crannies of the bit . Excess oil is simply removed with the cloth and the Sweet Iron bit shines in new splendor. Oiling does not necessarily remove the rust on the bit , but it does delay further rusting and maintains the material. This oil film lasts for a few uses, so that the side pieces is also protected over a few uses.

Curb Bit from Sweet Iron after intensive cleaning at Picadera
After intensive care: the rust is hardly visible, the dark color of the Curb Bit emerges beautifully again

Removal of rust with the help of a mixture of baking soda and baking powder

Rust can also be removed from a Sweet Iron bit with the help of a soda-baking powder mixture. However, one should be careful with this type of denture cleaning, as the bit is additionally lightened somewhat and, if necessary, not only the rust but also the burnished layer is removed.

For the baking soda mixture you need household baking powder and baking soda. These are mixed together in a 1:1 ratio and then mixed with a little water to form a thicker paste. The paste is then applied to bit and left for several hours. After a few hours, the white paste will have removed a little brownish, it is now removed with the help of a cloth and the bit is wiped off. Afterwards, the bit from Sweet Iron should be oiled so that it is protected in the long term.

Regular care of your bit

With regular and proper care you will keep the dark color and enjoy your bit made of burnished iron for a long time. At Picadera you will find beside Baucher bits and Spanish curb bits also spurs and Stirrups, which are made of Sweet Iron . 

Was all this too theoretical for you? Then take a look at the YouTube video here:

Care & Cleaning: How to make your Sweet Iron bit shine again

A small selection of our Sweet Iron products can be found here:

Fanni Kovács
Fanni Kovács

I am Fanni, the founder and owner of Picadera. For me, my identity as a rider also includes the right, functional equipment. It is not only important to me to find riding equipment that suits my horse and me, but also the process - from the decision for a product to the moment I hold it in my hands. Driven by this, I started at the beginning of 2017 to think about how to improve the situation for riders in Germany and Austria who are interested in Iberian and Baroque riding, as well as Working Equitation. The result is Picadera. If you have any feedback, questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line.

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