One of the things I do at Burner events (Big Burn and Regionals) is offer branding of the Man logo which is how I ended up with the playa name Brand X. I have put this page together for those who would like more info or who have been branded and are seeking care information.
What It Is
I do single strike branding. Essentially this means application of a heated cattle brand style branding iron to skin.
First and foremost it is an experience for those willing to step outside their comfort zone. It leaves a lasting remembrance in the form of a scar. The final appearance of that scar will vary with your body and the post brand care you give it.
What it is not is fine art. For that head to your local body modification studio and get either electro cautery or multi strike branding.
Give It Some Thought
Although the experience of being branded is fleeting - the scar is not. Give it a lot of thought. Then give it some more thought. Be sure this is something you really truly want. Don't do it because of peer pressure, don't do it because all the cool kids have one (they don't), don't do it for anyone else. Do it only if it is something you truly want.
Does It Hurt?
Of course it hurts, but not anywhere near as much as you would think. The anticipation is far worse than the actual branding. The hot iron is applied for a very brief touch which is hardly noticeable to most people. A minute or so later it will start feeling like a bad sunburn. This will go away after another minute or so. Certain parts of the body are more or less sensitive so this may very a bit by location, but is generally pain free within 3 minutes or so. This video from Burning Man 2016 shows how quick and painless it is.
Special Thanks to Doom and Steve for permission to use this video.
Everyone Scars Differently
Everyone's body is different. Accordingly the resulting scar varies from person to person. Some scar white, some scar red, some get a raised scar, some get a smooth scar, and so on. Different parts of your body may scar differently as well (for example my arms scar white, but my chest scars red). There is no way to be sure ahead of time, but you can get a fairly good indicator by looking at a previous scar.
The scar will fade over time and again depending on your body this can be anywhere from a couple of years to more than 9 years. There is no way to predict this.
Is It Safe?
If I didn't feel it was safe - I wouldn't do it.
I have done hundreds of brands (over 700) and I keep in touch with hundreds of those that I've branded. None have ever gotten infected or had any other problems that I'm aware of. This does not mean that it can't happen, just that with minimal care it normally won't happen.
When And Where
Branding is a sober time activity for me so mid morning through late afternoons are best. Any place where I have the branding iron and torch.
You need to be relatively sober - if you are wasted I will not trust you to be making informed consentual decisions and will ask you to return when less altered if you want a brand. Likewise anyone who wants a brand in a highly visible spot (neck, hands) will need to be 100% sober. I will not under any circumstances brand your face or genitals - that is a poor decision I want no part of.
Post Branding Care
You've braved the burn - now to maximize the scarring.
Essentially just keep it clean and dry and exposed to the air. When washing it use a dabbing motion - not a scrubbing motion!
Avoid breaking the scab between adjacent areas. If you do the design will lose some definition.
If the brand is in an area that chafes or is being rubbed by clothing loosely tape some gauze over it to minimize the abrasion.
Inspect it daily. Some redness around the edges is normal, however if the redness spreads or shows other signs of infection get some antibacterial ointment on it (Neomycin or Bacitracin). Note that this will reduce the scarring so avoid this unless necessary.
For most people the scab is very thin and will start to fall off after 7 or 8 days and be mostly off by day 10.
Others (including myself) develop a slightly thicker scab which typically starts to fall off after about 10 - 12 days. Again, it depends on your personal body chemistry and both of these common scenarios are acceptable so you shouldn't concern yourself.
Generally the best way to get rid of a branding scar is to not get one if you are not 100% sure you want one. If for whatever reason you want to get rid of it the only thing I can suggest is use of a scar fading cream such as Mederma. It will take some time and effort, but you should be able to fade it to the point where it is barely noticeable.