Heat Gun vs. Hair Dryer

If you need to defrost something or remove adhesive from something so that you can pull it apart, many people will recommend pulling out the heat gun. I will explain exactly what this is later but suffice to say it is a tool that shoots out a steady stream of hot air.

Now, you are probably thinking to yourself: “this sounds a lot like a hair dryer, could I just use that instead?” That is the question that I will be answering in this article.

Can I Use a Hair Dryer Instead of a Heat Gun?

Hair Dryer vs Heat Gun
You can use the hair dryer for tasks such as peeling old stickers, removing dried glue, etc. that doesn’t require a lot of heat. However, the maximum temperature generated by most hair dryers is 140°F (60°C) which is too low for most tasks that the heat gun is meant to be used.
An electric heat gun is capable of generating heat from 100F to 1200F very quickly for vinyl wrapping, resin, epoxy, etc.

To understand the difference between the two, let me explain how heat guns work and how they compare with blow dryers.

What Is A Heat Gun?

The idea behind the heat gun is quite simple and you can probably guess what it does just based on the name alone. Heat guns are essentially power tools that shoot out a stream of hot air as long as you hold down the trigger. They look very similar to power drills in that they have a grip, a trigger, and a sort of circular nose. They can be powered in a variety of ways; some use electricity and others use gas. Typically, a heat gun meant for use in the home is going to be electric. Only the really powerful models meant for commercial use gas power.

Now, when I say “hot” air, I mean really hot. There are electric heat guns out there that are capable of sustaining temperatures of over 1500 degrees Fahrenheit (815°C). To give you a reference as to how hot that is, putting a heat gun on your skin could cause third-degree burns in just a few seconds. It’s also hot enough to melt a plastic cup in seconds. So, heat guns are serious business, to say the least.

♦ Also see: How hot can a heat gun get?

Is a Heat Gun the Same as a Blow Dryer?

If you have a wife or daughter (or someone with long hair), then you probably see a blow dryer used every single day. See, even though no one refers to hair dryers as heat guns, they are technically categorized as them. However, there are obviously a few differences, with the main one being that blow hair dryers don’t reach anywhere near the sorts of temperatures that a heat gun will.

Hair Dryer Vs Heat Gun

Alright, so given that I just said that a hair dryer is a sort of heat gun, you may be curious as to whether this means that you can just use a hair dryer instead of investing in a heat gun. The answer is yes in theory, but most likely no.

Hair Dryer Heat Gun
Primary purpose is to dry things. Designed for heating and melting.
Temperature: 100 -200°F 120°F to 1500°F
Full Plastic Body with mica sheet as insulator between the heating coil and plastic body. Metal body with plastic housing around.

  • Drying Hair and damp clothes
  • Peel off labels, price tags, and stickers
  • Remove candle wax and crayons
  • Defrost food items
  • Shrink-wrap thin plastic sheets
Common Uses

  • Shrink fit plastic tubes
  • Vinyl wrap car
  • Stripping old paint & wallpaper
  • Drying paint
  • Removing vinyl and linoleum flooring
  • Thawing frozen piping
See, in theory, you could use a hair dryer to do the same things that you would use a heat gun for, but the problem is that pretty much every hair dryer that is sold for personal use is going to have pretty strict heat limits on it. There are high-end hairdryers such as Dyson supersonic which can generate heat up to 212°F (100°C). However, most hair dryers won’t go over 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is a problem if you want to use a hair dryer as a heating gun because most things that you would use a heat gun for require much more heat than that.

For example, let’s say that you want to dry some wet paint quickly. That is something that you would normally use a heat gun for. You could try and use a hair dryer for it, but drying paint quickly requires about 300 degrees (give or take) Fahrenheit of heat. So, a regular hairdryer isn’t going to do. It becomes even more difficult when you look at other things that you would use a heat gun for. A perfect example would be frozen pipes. That is a major problem that needs to be addressed quickly or else you are going to have a major problem on your hands. Again, in theory, you could use a blow dryer, but defrosting pipes quickly requires at least 1000 degrees Fahrenheit of heat, which is far beyond the capabilities of a hairdryer.

Difference between hair dryer vs heat gun comparison
The above image summarizes the main differences between hair dryer vs heat gun and compares their uses.

Hair Dryer Uses

Of course, there are probably some small jobs that you could use a hair dryer for in place of a heat gun. For example, I could see using a hair dryer for removing old adhesive. That doesn’t require a lot of heat, so you could use your hair dryer instead of a heat gun.

But, besides a few isolated examples, you are generally going to have to use an actual heat gun because a hair dryer simply doesn’t have the power. Plus, even in the situations where you could use a hair dryer to do the job, using a heat gun is going to be so much faster and so much more efficient, that I would still recommend busting out the heat gun instead of unplugging your wife’s hair dryer.

Hopefully, this cleared up any questions you may have had regarding hair dryers and heat guns. As a parting note, I will say that I definitely recommend investing in a heat gun. They aren’t that pricey, and they come in quite handy.