Vocational Vocabulary: Scorching

image of a t-shirt with a scorched rectangle from a heat press

What is Scorching?

‘Scorch’ or ‘burn’ marks are the result of too much heat applied to heat sensitive fabrics/materials. Usually this is seen as a box or outline of the heat press (see above picture). The scorched area will either be a different color from the rest of the garment or have a sheen to it. These marks are permanent and cannot be reversed*. Synthetic fabrics like Polyester, Nylon, Polypropylene, etc.. have lower melting temperatures and therefore are more prone to leave scorch marks.

*It should be noted that scorch or burn marks are not the same as a ‘heat press box’ which is usually seen on t-shirts or other garments made of natural fibers like cotton. This is a temporary discoloration caused by the heat of the press, but will disappear after being washed.

How can I prevent ‘scorch’ marks?

  • Always test the fabric.
    • While this won’t prevent scorching in and of itself, it can save you time, money, and frustration. Before ordering a large amount of new garments you’ve never used before, maybe just order 1 and load it onto the heat press to check it’s reaction to heat.
  • Lower the application temperature.
    • Some heat transfer vinyls can be applied at lower than their recommended temperature. For example, if the normal temp is 305º, you can drop it to 280º and just increase the pressing time.
  • Use heat transfer vinyls made for low temp applications.
    • Some HTV’s are made to be applied at low temperatures. Using these vinyls will ensure that you avoid scorching your garments. Here’s a list of low temp vinyls we recommend:
  • Use a thick Cover Sheet.
    • While you may already be using Kraft Paper or Non-Stick Sheets, there are thicker cover sheets available that insulate the transfer and garment from receiving the full heat. But be aware that these sheets only reduce the effects of the heat slightly and may not be enough to completely prevent scorch marks.
  • Use a Heated Lower Platen.
    • The Hotronix® Heated Lower Platen (or Power Platen) was specifically created to eliminate scorch marks and also reduce dye migration on polyester garments. This heat press accessory heats the garment from underneath, allowing the HTV adhesive to get sufficient heat, which means you can reduce the upper platen temperature. And a lower upper platen temp means no scorch marks.


As we’ve seen, there are many ways to reduce your risk of scorch marks or eliminate them altogether. Whether it’s changing the type of garment you use, trying lower temp applications, or purchasing some heat press accessories, scorch marks are avoidable.

If you have questions about low temp applications or would like to get recommendations on which vinyls or techniques to use, feel free to call or email our experts:

Scroll to Top