Acetylene torch vs Water torch

hello -

i live in an apt bldg in nyc and am wanting to acquire a torch.

my two concerns are:

  1. safety and legality of having a torch in an apt building.

  2. power of the torch - i want to be able to solder 2 18 gauge
    silver sheets together to form a bracelet.

thanks for your imput,


The legality, you will have to check for yourself, I have no idea
what the laws are but I would be very reluctant to haul Acetylene
into a populated building on a regular basis or sleep with it in a
confined space. Here are a couple of sites on torch safety you might
be interested in.

The heading of your post indicates Acetylene or water torch. Both of
these have energy outputs SIGNIFICANTLY greater than that required by

I would like to suggest a 3rd alternative, Propane.

The water torch will run in the range of $1000 to $2000, Acetylene
will run about $300 to $700, propane will run about $16 to $19 and
you can get very nicely setup with multiple tips on propane for about
$100. Also at the Acetylene and water torch energy range you will
need special goggles to work because of the energy level of the flame
and its effect on the metal, both will produce emission wavelengths
which are detrimental to your optic nerves.

Good luck to ya,

You should talk to your super first; a torch may be illegal and make
you legally libel.

... propane will run about $16 to $19 and you can get very nicely
setup with multiple tips on propane for about $100. 

I’d like to second that recommendation and add that you can get by
fairly reasonably using just the little disposable propane canisters,
often called “plumber’s torch” and sold in hardware stores everywhere.
While it’s true that these are not “professional” grade jeweler’s
tools --if you get serious about your jewelry work you’ll want to
upgrade-- they are are very satisfactory if you’re doing modest
amounts of work in silver and want to do so at the minimum cost and

Trevor F.
in The City of Light
Visit at


I actually have a water torch in my shop. I personally never used it,
basically brand new. I am a big fan of using gas. If it turns out the
water torch is the way you decide to go, I will give you a great deal
on the one i have. Like I said, i am a strong supporter of gas, so no
sales pitch here. Just figure if that is what you decide, e-mail me
and i will send pics etc., give you a good deal, better it gets used
by someone than collects dust in a corner.


Dear Cynthia:

We make the Spirflame[R], a fully patented hydrogen/oxygen
generator. If you send me your mailing address, no Post office boxes
please, we prefer to send UPS, I will send you a complete packet of
without any obligation. We have many Spirflames[R]
running in NYC, which we deliver and service if needed. Our humble
technical facility is located nearby in CT.

  1. safety and legality of having a torch in an apt building. Unless
    the building is specifically designated, you cannot legally use
    bottled gases. Hydrogen/oxygen generators only make gas as needed,
    there is no stored gas, so they are legal and safe to operate in an
    apartment building. We have many customers doing this now. We have
    been through many cases and obtained permission of NYC Fire Marshals,
    even in historic buildings, without any difficulty.

  2. power of the torch - i want to be able to solder 2 18 gauge silver
    sheets together to form a bracelet.

“Water welders,” not our Spirflame[R], are known for being unable to
provide enough heat or large good volume flames. Our Spirflames[R]
are “multicell” units meaning we can make many times the gas volume a
simple water welder can. This technology and others we use is fully
patented, world wide. Most of our work is industrial, but we have
many jewelry firms and customers using our Spirflames[R]. A good
percentage use to own simple water welders. A number of NYC firms
totally rely on us to provide all their torch needs. We have more
than enough gas to meet your jewelry making needs. To put this into a
form easy to understand, a standard Spirflame[R] can anneal, raise
and assemble (solder) a sterling creamer and sugar bowl without
difficulty. You could not anneal, raise, assemble a tea pot or coffee
pot in Sterling. I have made a series of Sterling boxes up to the
size of a cigar box using a single Spirflame[R].

I am on the road today (another Spirflame[R] delivery) but will be
back in the office tomorrow (Tuesday). Please feel free to give me a
call at 1 800 499 9933. My office hours are 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM EST,
Monday through Saturday.

Best Regards,

Gary W. Miller
Sr. Technical Advisor
Spirig Advanced Technologies, Inc.
Technical Division


The heading of your post indicates Acetylene or water torch. Both
of these have energy outputs SIGNIFICANTLY greater than that
required by silver. I would like to suggest a 3rd alternative,

Thank you very much for posting the on torch safety
issues. I wish there was more discussion of different safety issues
on Orchid, as some of the procedures I have read of in the posts are
downright scary (I’m talking about the recent discussion on
“bombing”). It seems some are willing to take very large risks with
their health/safety. Thanks and Best Regards

Kim Starbard
Cove Beads

I would like to suggest a 3rd alternative, Propane. 

Add a caveat here. Most public buildings will not allow propane in
bottles larger than the disposable ones. Insurance companies freak
out. My landlord allows me 2 “B” tanks of acetylene and 2 similarly
sized oxygen bottles, but propane is forbidden. Why?

Acetylene dissipates if the tank leaks, as it is lighter than air.
Propane, on the other hand, is heavier than air, and has a tendency,
if it should leak, to pool in low-lying areas of buildings, waiting
for a spark from a boiler or furnace to blow the place sky-high.
That is precisely why propane powered vehicles are not allowed in
underground parking garages.

David Keeling

You can check the local regulations (code) with the fire department,
or they will say how to find it, if it is a district code. (Can span
cities and/or counties.) The second thing to check is with the
landlord. As far as I know 1 lb. of propane should be allowed, the
non-refillable throwaway can. Check anyway.

I do not want to sound like a broken record, nor do I want to
influence a decision, that should be made after considering
everything. You can get a bona fide jewelers bench torch that can be
operated with the throwaway canister using a 0-60 PSI regulator,
through the agents in Australia.

Due to code and insurance, I rent, this solved my problem, my club
has acetylene and this measures up quite favorably on silver
construction, they have older model Smiths, hands down for detail. As
said this is a jewelers torch, has been on the market for decades
with a proven track record. I am very happy with mine. This will work
well on your silver. You would need the #3 tip also. With the
regulator it will run about the same as a good acetylene rig (Smith

If you should decide on acetylene, the best price, I know of, on a
Smith, with all the tips is:

On a Prestolite air/acetylene torch:

On a water torch, I can’t answer that, as to type, or price to look
for. I did have all kinds of brochures etc., but got rid
of all of it after getting my torch. I understand some malls will
accept no other kind, due to insurance differences. Without getting
into technical arguments, this is not the best for silver, although I
got an email from a user for that purpose, so.

I don’t remember who started the thread about using a LP Torch in an
apartment & the limitations. One of my torches is a LP Turbo Torch.
It uses Liquid Propane, & then sucks surrounding air in with it as
it gets to the tip giving a hotter flame than just LP. You don’t use
an Oxygen tank with it. Good alternative.


I have a question for Terry

You say you would be reluctant to haul acetylene into a populated
building or sleep with it in a confined space. why?

the safety links you provided seem to indicate danger from improper
handling.What am I missing?


Thank you for pointing out my error, I was referring to the small
bottles, the bottle and torch are about $16 to $19. I meant in no way
to carry in a bottle for a barbecue grill.



No, you didn’t miss anything. I have an Oxygen/Acetylene torch set up
both a Smith little torch and a Victor, I use it, but I don’t keep it
in the house. When I am done it goes back to the shed I don’t even go
eat lunch with the hoses charged. I have never had an accident with
it, did some really dumb things when I was a kid with one. By the
time ‘Oh, poop, I screwed up, or Oh god don’t do that’ goes through
your head, the damage is done. I have personally known and been
present with people who have had just that scenario happen in there
lives, and I have had enough ‘Oh craps’ in mine, 10 to 20 cubic feet
of acetylene and 5 to 8 gallons of acetone running loose in my house
is not what I want. Besides, I am not as fast as I used to be. I keep
a fire extinguisher in my shop, the kitchen, the garage and both
vehicles. If my shed goes I will call the fire department from
someplace not near the windows. My last 3rd degree burn was caused by
my 5 year old nephew, my sister had gotten and antique camera and
wanted to take all the kids in the families picture, I brought down
the black powder for the flash pan, I handled the powder, I evened
it out and got it ready and handed it to her, had all precautions
covered, I wouldn’t let anyone smoke during and made them wait to
start the barbecue until we were done. My nephew came out of the
house and pulled the striker on the flash as he walked by, my hand
was over the flash pan. By the time my nerves told me to drop it,
the damage was done. I still think accident avoidance, but what to do
when it happens is also in my thoughts. User error such as mine with
the flash pan is the cause of 85% of all accidents. I just don’t
think I am impervious and I don’t think those around me will be
protected by divine intervention should I screw up. I think having
Acetylene in your living quarters is a screw up just wait for a

Probably to much said



Propane tank is not allowed in the buildings but we have a tank
outside with 70 ft of copper tubing to the work shop and thats legal
and has been working fine for years.

and yes we put the guage inside casue we thought someone might steal it.