Chocolatiering DIY Chocolate Making

How To Use Chocolate Fountains: Complete Guide

how to use chocolate fountains

In this complete guide, Ayla Marika explains how to use chocolate fountains including technical assembly, operation and troubleshooting tips. She also shares a recipe to ensure the perfect chocolate consistency for your fountain, plus steps for cleaning and how to make chocolate fountain from a kit.

In the grand scheme of things, chocolate fountains have only been around for a few decades. It was Ben Brisman, who first popularized the chocolate fountain machine back in 1991. Thanks to the beauty of seeing a waterfall of chocolate, the popularity of these fountains grew by leaps and bounds over the next few decades. Today, just about anyone can own their very own chocolate fountain machine.

In this technical guide, we explain the ins and outs of how to use chocolate fountains including assembly and operation, how to choose a good quality chocolate fountain kit for home use… and why trying to build one from scratch is not a good idea.

We also cover the mechanics of how chocolate fountains work, troubleshooting tips and tricks, and even explain how to prepare the chocolate properly to get it flowing nicely through the fountain. Consider this your complete guide to making, using and enjoying chocolate fountains. Let’s dip in.

How Does a Chocolate Fountain Work?

Before we explain how to set-up and use a chocolate fountain, it is good to understand the basic mechanics so you know how they work and come together. There are two major varieties of chocolate fountains, which are categorized by the means by which the chocolate is pumped up through the system. The original chocolate fountain features an Archimedean screw or auger inside of a cylindrical housing which lifts the chocolate from the heater bowl at the bottom as much as 50 inches in the air.

Commercial chocolate fountains

The largest, commercial-grade chocolate fountains are often made of stainless steel, which is much easier to clean and maintain than the smaller plastic varieties. They can be broken down further into either a cup or curtain design. With a cup design, you have cups at each tier into which to dip, whereas the traditional fountain design merely creates a steady waterfall over the tiers.

Home chocolate fountains

While a wide variety of stainless-steel chocolate fountains are also available for home use, the average home-use unit is composed primarily of plastic components. Unlike commercial units, the largest home fountains reach a height of no more than about 19 inches. Nevertheless, they are capable of holding as much as 6 pounds of chocolate, are dishwasher safe, and are designed to be as easy to assemble as possible.

How to Make Chocolate Fountain at Home

When it comes to making a chocolate fountain, most people choose to use a premade kit, and for good reason. Chocolate fountains are complicated and difficult to construct from scratch.

For this article we originally wanted to share instructions on how to make a DIY chocolate fountain, without a kit. However, upon researching the mechanics and the work involved to build one from scratch, it proved to be much too difficult for most home DIY and chocolate enthusiasts to handle.

The most complex part of the chocolate fountain design is the auger. The auger is a twisted metal shaft which stands vertically inside the fountain and moves the chocolate from the bottom to the top. To make an auger from scratch, or repurpose an existing auger for use inside a DIY chocolate fountain, would require advanced metal working skills (cutting, welding) that the majority of people don’t have.

You would also need to consider the heating element and thermostat set to the exact right temperature, a motor for turning the auger, and all the various other parts involved. Combined this makes for a very complicated DIY project. Not to mention, purchasing all these parts separately would likely cost just as much as or more than purchasing a very good premade kit.

Therefore, although it’s possible to build your own chocolate fountain from scratch, it is always best to purchase a premade kit due to the complicated nature of the design. With premade chocolate fountain kits, you have a choice between stainless steel or plastic.

Stainless Chocolate Fountain Kit

When it comes to stainless steel chocolate fountain kits, the largest units stand at about 19 inches in height, feature three tiers, and can hold as much as 6 pounds of chocolate. At full capacity, these larger units are capable of serving up to 40 people at a time.

In design, these units feature a base with both a heating element and an electric motor to turn the auger. This basic unit will include an electronic control panel that allows an operator to adjust the temperature, and ensure that the chocolate stays melted throughout the night.

The auger unit is generally made of stainless steel and lifts the chocolate fondue up a shaft to the top of the fountain. Once at the top, the warm chocolate then overflows the top of the tube and falls like a waterfall down each tier of the fountain.

Recommended Stainless Steel Chocolate Fountain Kit:

Plastic Chocolate Fountain Kit

Plastic chocolate fountain kits are also very popular for home use. Unlike their larger-stainless steel counterparts, plastic units are generally smaller and weigh less. The average plastic kit is about 16 inches in height and can accommodate up to 4 pounds of chocolate at a time. This is enough capacity for smaller gatherings of no more than 20 people.

Unlike stainless steel kits which generally use augers to lift the chocolate to the top, plastic kits can be found with pumps instead. The pump-based units are more affordable but limited in how high they can lift the chocolate. It is always best when choosing an assembly kit, to select one that makes use of an auger because it will last longer.

With plastic chocolate fountain kits, while the base and warmer of the unit may still be stainless, the rest of the assembly is composed of high-grade, food-safe plastics that can be quickly assembled. In fact, most home-based units can be set up in a matter of seconds.

Recommended Plastic Chocolate Fountain Kit:

  • Brand: Nostalgia
  • Model: CFF1000
  • Capacity: 2 pounds (10-20 people)
  • Construction: Plastic, Stainless Steel
  • Price Tag: $171.63 (US)
  • More Information: View product page on Sears website

How to Use Chocolate Fountains

We will now explain how to use chocolate fountains, including assembly and operation of your chocolate fountain kit. Depending on the size and complexity of your unit, this could vary. We recommend you practice and give it a test run before your big event, where possible.

Step 1: Pick the Location

The first step in setting up a chocolate fountain is to pick a good location.

Avoid Rain, Wind & Sun. It is important to choose a spot that will not be exposed to rain, wind, or sunshine. The rain can add too much moisture to the chocolate, and make it harder to pump. The wind tends to blow and splatter chocolate on guests, and excessive amounts of sun can also adversely affect the chocolate, by making it too soft.

Ensure it is Level. You will also want to make sure that where you place the fountain is as level as possible. Because of the profile of the machine, even a slightly tilting table can cause it to fall over if bumped. If you need to, find some cardboard or other material to stabilize the table before you ever set up your machine. Even after setting up your unit, make sure to take the time to walk around the table and look at it from every possible angle to ensure that it is standing up straight before adding any chocolate.

Step 2: Open the Box

If it is the first time you have ever used a chocolate fountain kit, then the next obvious step is to pull out the machine and read the instruction manual that came with it. While most machines can be quickly and easily assembled, some units require more steps to set up.

In general, most home-use chocolate fountain machines will be composed of 3 main parts:

  • Base (inc. heating element and motor)
  • Auger and tube
  • Tiers

The most important part of the kit is the base which houses the heating element and the motor which spins the auger. The auger and tube should snap or twist into the base, and the tiers should slide over the tube and snap into place.

Make sure to always wipe down every single part of your chocolate fountain machine, to remove any dust that may have accumulated while it was in the box. If it is a brand-new unit, then you will want to also take the time to properly wash and dry all of the components before assembling them for the first time.

Step 3: Prepare the Chocolate

While some commercial-grade units are capable of melting the chocolate in the base, most home models will require that the chocolate and the machine are preheated before use. Most units have a pre-warmer setting, which will allow you to warm up the unit before you add any chocolate. You will need to start preparing your chocolate as soon as you start warming up the machine.

For home use, it is always best to use a pre-made chocolate mixture that is specifically designed for your unit. This will take all of the guesswork out of preparing a chocolate recipe that will flow smoothly. While there are some chocolate mixes that do not need to be preheated, most recipes will require some form of heating before being added to the chocolate fountain.

If you have decided to make your own chocolate rather than use a pre-made chocolate mixture, there is a recipe further down for how to make chocolate for fountain to the right consistency. You can also refer to our article on tempering chocolate for a more in depth guide to melting and preparing chocolate, for a variety of applications, including fountains.

If you have opened your chocolate and noticed that it has a white discoloration, don’t be alarmed. It is just chocolate bloom, which as we discuss in this article on chocolate bloom, is fine to melt and continue to use as normal.

Microwave (easy)

The easiest way to heat up chocolate for your fountain is to use a microwave. You will want to put all of your chocolate mixture into a microwave-safe bowl and heat it on high for no more than one minute. After one minute of heating, pull out the chocolate mixture and stir it before placing it back in the microwave for another 20 seconds. Repeat this step up to 4 times, remembering to stir the chocolate each time.

If your chocolate has still not melted sufficiently enough after 80 seconds, then continue the process 20 seconds at a time. It may take you up to 4 minutes in order to fully melt the chocolate. Once it has been completely melted, and you are confident that there are no chunks left in the mixture, then you can pour it into your chocolate fountain.

Stovetop (medium)

If you don’t have access to a microwave or are worried that you may damage the chocolate, then it is still possible to melt the chocolate on a stovetop. In order to do this, you will need to have a double boiler. Although it is possible to make your own double boiler, it is best to make use of commercially manufactured units that are specifically designed for chocolate.

Special care must be taken when melting chocolate using a double boiler, as steam can easily build up in the lower compartment.

With your double boiler assembled, and the stove turned on, you can begin to add the chocolate into the top compartment. It will take a few minutes before the chocolate begins to melt. To ensure that the chocolate mixture melts evenly, you will want to constantly stir it. This process can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

Instant Pot (easy)

One of the easiest ways to warm up and melt your chocolate mix before placing it into the chocolate fountain machine is to use an Instant Pot. The Instant Pot method is very similar to the double boiler in which you need to place water in the bottom and place a glass bowl on top. Make sure that the glass bowl is large enough to completely seal the top of the Instant Pot so that the steam does not escape. Then, setting the Instant Pot to sauté, you can slowly melt the chocolate in about 10 to 15 minutes.

Just as you did with the double boiler, you will need to make sure that you are stirring it slowly and consistently. This is important as it prevents air bubbles from forming inside the chocolate which can wreak habit on the lift mechanism. When finished, the chocolate should be silky smooth.

Step 4: Warm up the Fountain

If you are lucky enough to have a chocolate fountain kit that is capable of melting chocolate in the base, then you will not need to use the microwave, stovetop, or Instant Pot. Most units, however, only come with warming capabilities. The keep warm setting is used to warm up the base in preparation for adding your chocolate mixture. It is important to make sure that you do not leave it on this setting for too long as it can easily warp the metal in the base.

Step 5: Switch Over to Heat Mode

After both your fountain and the chocolate are warmed up accordingly, you can pour your mixture into the bowl. Switch the fountain over to heat mode but DO NOT start the auger yet, as you will want to make sure that both the chocolate and the fountain are at the proper operating temperature first.

Step 6: Assemble the Fountain

Since it will take the chocolate fountain machine roughly 5 minutes to reach operating temperature, you can take this time to assemble the fountain itself if you haven’t already. Start by assembling all of the parts of the tower, making sure that everything is properly snapped into place. From there, place the auger inside the tube and snap it into the base of the unit. Make sure that it is only set to heat mode, as you do not want the auger to grab a hold of your finger when you assemble the unit.

Step 7: Start the Auger

By the time you have finished assembling the unit, the machine should be operating at the perfect temperature. Before you start the auger, you will want to make sure that the entire machine is properly coated with chocolate first. Grab a small measuring cup and drizzle the chocolate all over the machine.

Once all of the tiers have been properly coated with chocolate, you can then pour the remaining chocolate into the auger unit itself. This will help ensure that the auger is properly primed when you turn it on. As you begin to pour the chocolate down inside, you can turn on the auger and wait for it to lift the chocolate out the top.

There you go, your chocolate fountain is now in operation and ready to use.

How to Make Chocolate for Fountain

Without a question, the most important part of any chocolate fountain is the chocolate itself. The problem with pure chocolate is how temperamental it can be when it is in its melted state. This is why you cannot simply melt chocolate and pour it into the machine without additives. The most commonly used additive in fountain chocolate is cocoa butter. The higher the cocoa butter content, the more consistently it flows. If there is not enough cocoa butter or vegetable oil, then it will not flow smoothly.

While it is possible to make your own couverture chocolate, it is generally recommended to use chocolate that has been specifically designed for use in a chocolate fountain machine. Accidentally adding too much oil to your chocolate in order to make it flow smoother, can make the chocolate feel too slimy and gritty.

Typical Chocolate Fountain Recipe

If you have decided not to buy premade chocolate mix to use in your chocolate fountain, then here is a basic recipe that can be used as an alternative.


24 Ounces Chocolate Chips

3 Squares Unsweetened Chocolate

3/4 Cup Coconut Oil


You will want to mix the chocolate and oil together, depending on the method that you used to melt the chocolate. If you plan on making your mixture in a microwave, you will want to set it to medium for about 1 minute. After a minute, pull the mixture out and stir it before placing it back in for an additional 20 seconds. Continue 20 seconds at a time, stirring between each pass. Once it has completely melted, you can then add it to the bowl at the base of your fountain.

It is important to make sure that it has the right consistency in order for it to flow smoothly. To determine this, run the fountain for about 2 minutes then shut it off for about 30 seconds. This will help to eliminate any potential air gaps in the auger. If the chocolate is not flowing smoothly when you restart it, then add another 1/8 cup of coconut oil to the chocolate.

Why Is Oil Needed?

The use of oil in your chocolate cannot be overemphasized. The viscosity of pure chocolate is too thick for the auger system. It is also very difficult to keep the chocolate at a consistent viscosity for long periods of time when it is in its pure form. However, when you add either cocoa butter or oil, you change the viscosity of the chocolate, making it flow easier.

Chocolate Syrup Alternative

If you are not interested in dealing with melted chocolate, then as an alternative you can use chocolate syrup. Chocolate syrup can be found in every grocery store in the country and is much cheaper than pure chocolate. Chocolate syrup stays in liquid form, even when it is placed in the refrigerator. However, it is important to remember that when using chocolate syrup, the chocolate will not harden on your dippings. It won’t taste as nice either, so expect some disappointment from your guests if doing this!

How to Use Chocolate Fountains Help (Troubleshooting Tips)

Let’s face it, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. It is always best to be prepared for potential issues that you may encounter when using a chocolate fountain.

Melting the Chocolate

Make sure that your chocolate mixture is fully melted before being added to the fountain. If there is even one small chunk of chocolate left in the mixture, it can get stuck in the pump or auger, and may even break the machine. The chocolate should be smooth and consistent.

Re-using Fountain Chocolate

It is possible to reuse your fountain chocolate. And while reusing chocolate is a great way to save money, it is important to make sure that it is pure chocolate. It is not uncommon to get small chunks of banana or other residual bits of dippings in the chocolate itself. It is important to make sure that these are removed before collecting and storing your leftover chocolate.


One of the biggest issues facing auger-style chocolate fountain machines is cavitation. This occurs when air gets trapped inside the tube and prevents the chocolate from flowing up the tube smoothly. When the air gets trapped inside the tube, the chocolate tends to sputter and splatter when it comes out of the top. If this happens, you simply need to turn the motor off and wait for about 15 seconds. This will give time for any trapped air bubbles to rise to the top. Once you are sure that the trapped air has been released, you can turn the machine back on. You may need to do this a few times throughout the day.

Turning the Fountain Off

At the end of the day, do not leave any chocolate inside of the fountain. Unless you are using chocolate syrup when the chocolate mixture cools it begins to harden. Turning on a fountain that has solidified chocolate inside, can break the auger or burn out the motor.

If for any reason the fountain is turned off, and you are worried that there is solidified chocolate inside of the center tube, you can simply use a hair dryer to warm it up. Since most units feature a stainless-steel central tube, you can hit it with a hairdryer for about 5 to 10 minutes in order to melt any residual chocolate.

In order to ensure the longevity of your kit, make sure to remove any and all chocolate before you turn it off. Have a food-safe plastic container ready to collect any of the leftover chocolate, and make sure that you do not leave the heating element on when there is no chocolate in the bowl.

How to Clean Chocolate Fountains

At the end of the day, you will need to properly clean your fountain. After you have removed all of the chocolate that you can and turned it off for the day, you’ll want to give it time to cool off slightly. Make sure that you do not wait too long, as the chocolate will harden and make it more difficult to disassemble.

Most of the parts of the fountain are dishwasher safe and can be simply rinsed off first. However, it is always best to try to clean it by hand as much as possible. Don’t forget to wipe out the inside of the metal bowl to remove any food particles that may have been left behind. Then carefully return all of the components to the original box so they can be stored away safely for future use.

If chocolate does happen to harden in the fountain, then scrape as much off as possible with a gentle motion (a wooden or plastic scraper is less likely to cause damage than metal), then use some warm soapy water to wipe off the remainder.

Final Thoughts on How to Use Chocolate Fountains

Chocolate fountains are a delightful way to add some class and excitement to a party, appealing to all ages from young kids through to your grandparents. Everyone loves chocolate, after all.

However, learning how to use chocolate fountains and how to make chocolate fountain can bring a few challenges, since it is not a mechanism that most of us are familiar with. However, with a premade kit, whether purchased or hired, the assembly is fairly straightforward, as we’ve explained above.

The main points to keep in mind when using chocolate fountains are:

  • For chocolate, use premade mixture OR make sure you add oil to the chocolate to ensure it flows through the fountain properly (see recipe above).
  • Melt the chocolate before putting it in the bowl of the fountain, unless the machine you have specifically states otherwise.
  • When setting up, ensure it is level, and protected from rain, sun and wind. Indoors is ideal.
  • Use a chocolate fountain kit, and do not attempt to build one yourself. See note below.
  • Clean the fountain straight after use, and do not let the chocolate harden in the machine.

Thoughts on How to Make Chocolate Fountain from Scratch

While we addressed this question above, we just want to reiterate again since it is a question we’ve seen from readers, that building your own chocolate fountain from scratch is not something that we recommend. The reason for this is because they are very complicated designs (especially the auger) which would require advanced metal welding skills to construct, and would probably end up costing more to make yourself in both time and money, than simply buying a good chocolate fountain kit.

Pump style assemblies are theoretically possible to DIY, however most chocolate fountains use an auger design, because pumps cannot move the chocolate very high. You could try experimenting with making your own chocolate fountain using a pump, however, you would not gain much height which would defeat the purpose of having a fountain in the first place. The other challenge is incorporating a heating mechanism and thermostat to keep the chocolate in the exact right temperature range so that it’s melted but not burnt.

Happy chocolatiering!

Article Author

  • Ayla Marika

    Ayla Marika is the founder and manager of the Chocolatiering website. She is a website producer, visual artist and graphic designer based in Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art) from Curtin University of Technology and an Advanced Diploma of Public Relations from Canberra Institute of Technology. Her interests include permaculture, implementing self-sufficiency strategies on her small hobby farm, music, cooking, brewing, plant medicine and food activism. She is the author and illustrator of the critically acclaimed Amazon bestseller book How Food is Made: An illustrated guide to how everyday food is produced, and manager of Forssa Light Publishing.

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