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Butane Torches


#1

For the sake of my students, I feel I need to familiarize myself
with the refillable mini butane torches. I would very much
appreciate ant feedback folks can give me before I buy one to try. I
see there are many available, including “culinary” ones. Are any
noticably better-- or worse-- than others? I am interested in them
for soldering, not firing PMC.

THANKS!
Noel


#2

Hi Noel,

I recommend the Ronson Aero Torch to my students for soldering as
well as PMC. Major advantage is that the butane canister snaps right
onto the torch head, so there’s no need to stop and refill until the
canister runs out completely. You can purchase it directly from
Ronson http://www.ronsoncorp.com/aerotorch.cfm or from
http://www.micromark.com

Alice Alper-Rein
Metalsmith and Senior Instructor, PMC Connection
Jewelry By Y2A, Ltd.
www.jewelrybyy2a.com


#3

Hi, Noel…seems I am giving you more info today- this is
correct!!!

I bought the butane fillable torches at Harbor Freight. They are
under $10 and are great. I do soldering of bezels, also to silver
bases. Haven’t tried gold. I get the larger canisters of butane at
the tobacco counter at Wal-Mart (cheaper), or at any tobacco store.

Rose


#4

Hi Noel,

I need to familiarize myself with the refillable mini butane
torches. I would very much appreciate ant feedback folks can give me
before I buy one 

I’ve been using a Proxxon MicroFlam refillable butane torch for
about 10 years. It’s great for chain & other items about 1 inch
square or smaller. The torch burns about 1 1/2 hr on a charge of
fuel. Refueling it takes all of about 5 seconds. The torch is about 6
1/2 inches high & 1 1/2 inches in diameter. The flame size is
adjustable & there’s a push button igniter in the handle. The torch
costs about $40.

Dave


#5

Hi Noel:

I use one of these torches that was advertised as a Brule Torch for
browning meringues and is called MicroTorch. So far it has worked
well for me but I am not trying to heat anything too large with it.
It’s fine for students, I think, to get a feel for the flame, but I’m
not sure I would recommend it for any serious work.

I have found a couple of drawbacks… turning it on is awkward. You
have to pull down a small slide which is a child proof thing, push
the button to start the gas and the sparker going and then push
another small button on the opposite side of the thing to keep the
flame continuous. That’s assuming the sparker lights the gas on the
first go… otherwise you have to go through the routine again
because the slider goes back up when you let go of the start button,
and it really does take two hands. There is a very small ridge on the
slider and it’s a bit hard to get a good grip on it. My sparker seems
to have given up the ghost and the thing is barely a year old. I just
get the gas flowing now and use a BBQ starter. I wonder if this is
safe!!! So far no accidents and it lights right away.

Also I am getting a bit tired of having the gas run out in the
middle of something. I think there is only about a forty-five minute
burn time and while I don’t have it going nearly that long at a time
I cannot seem to gauge how full the little tank is and there is no
external indicator. I am using the torch more now as I experiment
with new ideas and am thinking of getting a larger torch. I’m going
to try the one my husband uses for plumbing work first before going
out to buy my own.

Also another consideration is the fuel. Different brands work better
than others. The Bernzomatic Butane is good. I seemed to have a
better burn with the Ronson brand and can’t find it now. The Ronson
came in a bigger container too so was more economical.

If you can have the store owner open a package so you can try out
the operation that would be a big help for you I think. I see that
Bernzomatic has a new torch out that is smaller than the plumber’s
size and attaches to a medium sized tank of propane rather than
Butane.

It will be interesting to read other’s take on these small torches.

Take care
Sheila in Ontario Canada


#6

Hi Noel

I highly recommend the Bernzomatic electric ignition torch- it runs
about 25-29.00 and is in black on a removable base with
concentrators, a knife attachment, chisel tip and one other
attachment that escapes my mind. They also make a small blue or teal
torch that is very poor- there are many problems with it- such as
inability to clean the filter and orifices that are sporadic in
delivering constant heat. The above mentioned is superior to any
creme brulee torch out there and if you buy it at home depot, you can
get an extended warranty for about 10 bucks that has come in handy.
the torch gets up to 2800 degrees, and will melt small quantities of
metal in open melting dishes. The aero torch someone mentioned has
too many drawbacks to be convenient- such as the size of the flame is
far less adjustable than the black bodied one i am extolling. I have
had one for five years, and it still works brilliantly with only a
filter cleaning once a year and it takes any size can of butane that
has a standard refil tip. The aero model only uses a 12-14 oz bottle.

As for the harbor freight models: the 9.99 ( although it goes on
sale freqquently for 4.99) black and silver heavy bodied pencil torch
is excellent and maintains a 3000 degree heat for up to 30 minutes on
a charge. It also comes with a few attachments converting it to a hot
air concentrator, a chisel tip cutter/soldering iron, and a difuser
good for melting metals or alloys. The smaller familiar blue to
silvery blue pencil torch ( between 1.99-5.99) only gets to 1800
degrees, lasts about 10-15 minutes on a charge and is less
consistent in fuel delivery thant he heavy duty model. Some work and
some don’t right out of the package, and you can visibly see defects
such as the stem attached crookedly, and orifice holes set too far
above the brass colar to mix air properly, and then there is the
twisting lock that sometimes comes pre-stripped…the Heavy duty
model is great for easy transport and demos at festivals, etc- but i
still prefer the Bernzomatic to all of them for that purpose as well
as poor or beginning smiths who can’t or don’t want to purchase an
entire set up just yet.

The proxxon torch is what I used to have in my shop pre- hurricane
as a back up mini torch to my hoke,midget,prestolite when i ran fuel
gasses- then i graduated to a water torch…which for safety can’t be
matched…though i reverted to the fuel/O2 torches for direct
casting, melting, fusing and other operations that required higher
temperatures and/or flame sizes. The proxxon’s main benefit was its
weight and ease of use…otherwise the bernzomatic delivered the same
performance at a lot less cost…in fact, i belive performance wise,
the berrrnzomatic perrhaps surpassed the proxxon. The torches
designed for browning sugars, and meringues are more pricey versions
of the bernzomatic- in some cases they are far inferior- the fuel is
ignited via a small plastic covered flexible piezo electric ignition
systemt hat often malfunctions. Harbour Freight also sells a neon
orange version of the micro torch (blazer/ creme brulee torch) it’s
junk due to the hasty construction of the fuel delivery and mixing
apparatus and the piezo electric connection often disconnected upon
purchase…The Bernzomatic is by far the way to go for value,
reliability, versatility, warranty, and ease -of-use. I have
frequenrly purchased a number of them for cclsses so that everyone
would be working with the same tool, when torches were not furnished
at a given school, and so that people flying to the course location
could check them empty, in luggage on return flights…and have a
reliable back up torch if not a good overall beginners torch that
puts the cost of operating a smith or gentec little torch on
disposable mapp or acetylene or propane (it doesn’t generate enough
heat for some operations) out-of-the -running when butane is still so
inexpensive. It costs $2-2.50 for a bottle of butane to run a
Bernzomatic at 2800 degrees F for up to three hours, maybe four on a
12 oz. can, compared to 15-30 minutes to each $9 tank of O2, and an
additional $9 dollars per disposable tank of MAPP, Acetylene or
Propane, that generally lasts three to one per O2 tank.

hope that clarifies your questions.


#7

Noel

When I first set up my home studio 13 years ago, the first torch I
bought was a Proxxon Butane Micro Torch. It works well for very
small soldering jobs, such as attaching earring posts, jump rings or
sizing small rings. It does not have enough heat for anything bigger
than a couple square inches of sterling silver sheet. The flame is
controlled by a sliding lever on the top of the torch. Flame control
is reasonably good, but the flame size will start to vary as the
butane is used up and the butane pressure in the torch drops off,
and it is a bit difficult to continually adjust the flame while you
are in the middle of a soldering job. It is durable all metal
construction and still works today after 13 yrs of use and abuse. I
keep it on my soldering bench and occasionally use it for small
soldering jobs.

I recently purchased a low end plastic butane torch from a tool
liquidation store. Looks a lot like my Blazer, except that it is
bright orange plastic and cost about $6.00 vs the Blazer which cost
about $70.00 (Canadian, 13 yrs ago). The flame control on this torch
is terrible and I would not recommend buying one for soldering. The
only reason that I keep this one on my bench is to remind me never
to waste $6.00 on one again.

Overall, a good quality butane torch like the Proxxon is probably a
reasonable starter torch for someone who does not want to go to the
expense of a Little Torch or a Prestolite Air/Acetylene torch. But,
due to its limited capability, even a novice student will soon be
frustrated by its limitations and will have to move on to something
more versatile, with more heat.

Regards
Milt Fischbein
Calgary, Alberta


#8

Noel,

I don’t know any of the technical aspects, such as temperature,
etc., of refillable butane torches but I use one 90 percent of the
time with excellent results and have for about ten years now. I work
on small single items mostly, ring sized or slightly larger. The
flames are adjustable and I have been able to size rings and also to
repair chains, for example. I use it on both gold and silver. They
have a built in igniter and stand up on their own. They are light and
easy to refill in seconds. No large fuel tanks to worry about. They
are inexpensive, around $30, so I have several. I do not think they
are for those of you at the bench all day long, but great for some of
us and probably ok for students. They seem to put out plenty of heat
and will melt rings and larger items if one is not careful. However,
I use a larger torch to melt metal for casting. The “culinary” ones
are the same as the others, just a different sales pitch. All the
brands that I have used seem to work well and are easy to refill. I
do not like the annoying child proof tab that they all have. Hope
this helps.

John in Juneau


#9

Hi Noel,

I have worked with many of the butane models and would highly
recommend the slightly more expensive Original Blazer Micro torch. It
has an easy push-button start-up. No ridiculously cumbersome child
safety precaution switches, which are on the butane torches I have
seen promoted for metal clay use.

When I taught at the Art Institute of Seattle, they had a culinary
department and I saw a lot of the creme brulee torches, which cannot
be adjusted as precisely as the Blazer can be. I had the school buy 6
Blazers to use as back-up torches and the students loved them so much
the Blazers kept disappearing.

The one I have is about 10 years old and still work great, where as
some of the other less expensive brands my students used would melt
their torch housings through in a single semester.

Nanz Aalund
Associate Editor / Art Jewelry magazine
21027 Crossroads Circle / Waukesha WI 53187-1612
262.796.8776 ext.228


#10

Cheaper one made in China and Taiwan

Prince, Blazer and Proxxon all made by same company (Prince) Japan
are the best.

I am going to look at the Ronson Aero thought that look good too,

Kenneth Singh
46 Jewelry Supply.


#11

Hi Noel,

I have an inexpensive Blazer Hot Shot, but it doesn’t run for very
long. I have to admit that, having used the more expensive GB-2001 in
a class, I wish I had bought that. I talked to Blazer and they said
that they have customers who have used this torch for years and are
now ordering replacement metal parts:

http://blazerproducts.com/tools/gb2001.html

I’ve talked to people who have used cheaper torches, with plastic
parts, and had them start to melt if used too continuously. I didn’t
think it was worth the experiment. But Blazer says it’s never
happened with their cheaper torches.

I do recommend buying the fuel at a cooking store. And I haven’t
actually soldered with it, just fused fine silver. Works fine for
that.

Lisa Orlando
Albion, CA, US


#12

Hi Noel…

I recently purchased a Solder-It PT-500 butane torch:
http://www.solderit.com/pt500.html

The PT-500 has one knob that you turn to adjust the fuel intake, and
a ring to adjust the air intake.

It is not a culinary torch, so it doesn’t have a child-guard
mechanism – you just open the air ring, then open the fuel valve,
and then push the fuel valve to ignite the fuel.

The air adjustment ring has to be all the way open to light the
torch reliably on first-try. However, once lit, the air ring can be
closed and the fuel can be adjusted down to create a very small
candle-like flame suitable for lighting incense in a still room
(should you want to do so.) :slight_smile:

The PT-500 has a large tank – about 200 hours according to the
manufacturer, and it’s rated to 2600F/1350C. I don’t have a volume
spec for the PT-500 tank (I wish I did!) but it appears to be a good
bit larger than the culinary torches I’ve seen.

I like the built-in base on the PT-500 – I can just set it down
wherever and I don’t have to keep track of a separate base.

The only other butane torch I have used in comparison to the PT-500
is a Solder-It PT-220 butane torch:

http://www.solderit.com/pt220.html

The PT-220 does have a child-guard mechanism and so it’s somewhat
annoying to light. It appears to have a smaller tank than the
PT-500, but the manufacturer says it should go about 220 minutes on
one gas filling. It’s rated to 2500F/1300C.

The PT-500 very easily and quickly fused 1" diameter 16ga fine
silver jump rings in comparison to the PT-220 torches, which seemed
very slow – so slow that most of the people in the class would wait
for the PT-500 to be available rather than try to use the PT-220.

On the other hand, the slowness of the PT-220 worked well for me
when I used one to learn to solder jump rings with paste solder. I
had plenty of time to manipulate that paste back into position if it
wandered off the joint, and also I was very pleased that I didn’t
ruin the temper of the spring in the lobster-claw clasp when I
soldered its jump ring.

However, when I was using the PT-220 to solder, and watching its use
in fusing, I didn’t yet own my PT-500 and so I didn’t know about the
air adjustment ring (unfortunately the local bead store instructor
failed to mention it in either class). So the performance of the
PT-220 may well have been adjustable to be adequate to the task of
fusing the larger rings in a more timely manner.

It would also be nice if Solder-It provided a BTU spec for its
torches…

In any case, I will be using the PT-500 for tasks assigned in a
Jewelry/Metalsmithing course at Pratt in Seattle this quarter, and I
should be able to report how well it fares in comparison to the
culinary torches, the acetylene/air torches, and the oxy/propane
Little Torch that are present in the classroom.

So far, I’ve been able to anneal brass and copper with the PT-500
just fine. Unfortunately, I didn’t do the annealing with it in class,
so I’m not sure how it compared, speed-wise – it seemed about the
same as the acetylene/air torches that we were using but that doesn’t
seem logical, does it? I will try to test this in class and report
further.

It was interesting to see that the PT-500 allowed me to torch the
zinc in the brass to make some lovely copper patterns, even. Which in
turn gave me the opportunity to implement H202 “super pickle”. All of
it has been very, very kewl.

Constance