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Natural Gas


#1

Natural Gas:

If your gas water heater is using Natural gas then a plumber can
make the installation for you. You must provide an on/off valve
so you can turn off the gas to your torch when not in use. The
line from the on/off valve should be galvanized pipe if a long
distance and about 6-7" of good welders hose at the end for your
torch. Your gas meter has a large regulator already so the gas
coming into your house is already the correct pressure (9 water
columns) and cannot and should not be changed. As always you
should make sure your torch is off when finished soldering and
when you are finished working you should close the on/off valve.
Gas pressure is suitable for both soldering and casting. Oxygen
pressure will depend on your torch, 2-4 psi for small torch
(mini) and 5-7 for Meco torch. Casting torch about 25-30 psi
oxygen. Oxygen pressure should be adjusted for the size of torch
tip being used.

Natural Gas (Safe?)

All gases are dangerous and need to be handled with caution!
Natural gas is lighter than air and if it were leaking your nose
would tell you very quickly! Natural gas will rise and
dissipate quickly. Propane is a heavy gas, if it were leaking
it would drop quickly to the floor or a basement and dissipates
slowly. By the time the gas leaked to your nose level, it would
be a dangerous situation indeed. Propane indoors or in a
basement is a real no-no!

Natural gas is the cleanest of all gases except Hydrogen. Both
are idea for precious metal and hydrogen being hotter is ideal
for platinum. Propane is not quite as clean and runs about 100
F hotter than natural gas. Acetylene as mentioned before, is too
hot and too dirty for precious metals. If your casting with
acetylene, guaranteed you will have porosity.

If the house blew up with propane I can understand why, if it
blew up with natural gas then either no one was at home or they
can’t smell! When finished soldering be sure to close the gas
line and oxygen tank and drain the line, a good habit.

Best Regards, Duane
@pebworth


#2
  The line from the on/off valve should be galvanized pipe if
a long distance and about 6-7" of good welders hose at the end
for your torch.

Don’t use galvanized pipe, it’s against most building codes in
the US. There’s the possibility of a chemical reaction between
the galvanized coating on the pipe & the gas. Most building
codes require the use of bla ck iron pipe for gas lines. Black
iron pipe is available at most home supply stores & hardware
stores that sell pipe. You should also use black iron fittings
with black iron pipe.

Dave


#3

Dave: I believe that also the fear is that the galvinized coating
can, over time ,flake off and lodge into the gas valve,causing it
to not close off properly and causing a possible fire hazard.

Michael Mathews Victoria,Texas USA


#4
<<SNIP>> Your gas meter has a large regulator already so the gas
coming into your house is already the correct pressure (9 water
columns) and cannot and should not be changed. <<SNIP>>. Oxygen
pressure will depend on your torch, 2-4 psi for small torch
(mini) and 5-7 for Meco torch.  Casting torch about 25-30 psi
oxygen. 

Hang on a sec! This doesn’t jibe with what I have been told
elsewhere. The torch specs generally indicate they need two to
five pounds of fuel pressure (with some exceptions) , and
household natural gas pressure seems universal at about four
OUNCES! Just a bit of a discrepancy here. Is the fuel pressure
listed in the specs the MAX pressure, not the working pressure?
Something else? Please comment. I am about to have some gas
piping done to my workspace, and being able to use natural gas
sure would solve some problems for me.

Marrin Fleet
@Marrin_and_Mary_Dell
Memphis, TN


#5

Hi Marrin -

When I had my gas line put in, I was told that the line coming
in from the city was 6 psi (pounds per square inch) and that my
oxygen pressure should match that. This has worked fine for me
for the last five years. I would think that you could check
with the local fire department or utilities group to find out
what the pressure is in your area and then talk either with the
person putting in your line or the people from whom you get your
oxygen tanks - they’re usually pretty knowledgeable.
Laura


#6

Hi Marrin,

I might have just gotten bitten on the same thing. The plumbers
(who do gas work in my area) installed a regulating valve in my
studio which cuts the pressure from the house (2 lb.) down to a
"useable" 1/2 lb. My torch has finally arrived so I need to get
them back out here to put the proper connector on, by may have
them put an unregulated valve on?

Gotta talk to 'em and check it out. They know what the pressure
is they are dealing with.

Dave

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com
http://www.sebaste.com


#7

When they come back to remove the extra reducer, make sure they
have installed a kick back or checking valve. This stops an
explosion from happening. It is a very rare occurance, but why
should it be you? Steve Ramsdell


#8

Marrin,

No matter what the delivery pressure to your house is, after the
regulator you will have 7-9 inches water of pressure of natural
gas. Nine inches of water = 0.32517 psi. This can be a safety
problem as oxygen being run at a higher pressure can be forced
back into the natural gas line if the torch tip is obstructed or
if the oxygen pressure is too high creating a potential
explosion. If you are going to use natural gas as a fuel gas for
a torch you need to have check valves in the gas line that will
restrict the direction of the flow to reduce this potential. I
think that you will also find that using gas in this way is a
code violation due to the requirement for metal flexible lines to
supply devices using gas. Rubber hoses are a no no you might also
think about this in relation to your insurance you might find
that you will not be covered if you are using non-code gas
appliances (torches are definitely not code).

With that said I know many jewelers who use natural gas and it
works just fine for them and they have never had any problem.
All fuel gases are dangerous. So do what you feel comfortable
with but you should know about all the safety issues before
hooking a torch up to your gas line.

Jim

James Binnion Metal Arts
2916 Chapman St
Oakland, CA
(510) 436-3552


@jbin


#9

I have followed the threads on various fuels. While I currently use
oxy-acetylene, I have natural gas for heating and cooking and the
dryer. I plumbed the system myself and have no qualms about adding
an outlet for the torch for oxygen/natural gas. However, I think I
am only getting about 2 psi through the pipe and I wonder if this is
enough, particularly if I should be doing any casting. I am also not
clear how to add a regulator or whether this is necessary. Would I
merely add a stopcock like in my college chem lab and adjust flow
through the valve?? I use a Smith Little Torch.

TIA for any help,
Roy


#10

Hi Roy,

Natural (city) gas is filthy and will be a real detriment to clean
castings. I think that standard pressure is 3 lbs. of pressure.

Skip
Skip Meister
@Skip_Meister


#11

Natural Gas pressure at the outlet of the meter is typically below
1/2 psi as most residential equipment can be damaged by pressures in
excess of 1/2 psi. The end pressure at the burners is typically 3.5
inches water column ("w.c.). There are approx. 28-30 "w.c. to a 1psi.
commercially higher pressures are available from the gas company,
however it depends on the supply pipelines in the area and the willing
ness of your utility to supply it. As to the suitability of standard
pressures of 1/2psi or less for torch work I don’t know. I do work with
commercial and industrial heating and process machinery and will be
glad to share my knowledge should anyone have more specific questions.
PS A dedicated LP tank and line may be a very workable option for
many. This would be just like the setup used at many hunting camps and
cabins for the kitchen stove, only supplying torches. This could be
manually shut off at the tank outside for those desiring an extra
safety security. I think the local propane distributor would be able
to help anyone set it up and would be glad to be your supplier.

Dan Wellman


#12

I have a simple question that I should have been able to find in the
archives but maybe was searching wrong. I’ve been using acetylene
but am moving and it will now be a simple procedure to switch to
natural gas as my new studio will be in the basement adjacent to the
furnace. Can I use it alone or must I mix it with oxygen? The bench
photos are a great resource, I’ve been looking thru them trying to
come up with a way to configure my new space. When it’s complete
and still clean I’ll submit it. Thanks, Betty


#13

Natural Gas has a lower heat content than acetylene and may not
provide the heat needed for your work without using oxygen also.
Also please read the posts about natural gas, LP etc. in the
archives Lots of good safety info

Dan Wellman


#14

Hi Betty, Natural gas is not hot enough without oxygen. You will
also find it is not as hot as the acetylene you have been using even
with the oxygen…although it will be a cleaner flame.

Mark


#15
it will now be a simple procedure to switch to natural gas as my
new studio will be in the basement adjacent to the furnace.  Can I
use it alone or must I mix it with oxygen? 

Betty,

Natural gas can be used with either compressed air, or oxygen. Or
you can even use it with a mouth blown blowpipe, as is done is some
european workshops. The compressed air can come from a small bellows
type foot pump too, if you wish, though not many in the U.S. do that,
and such pumps are now a bit hard to find. There are, of course, big
differences between an air/gas torch and an oxy/gas torch. You need
a different type of torch (at least you need a different tip for it)
if you’re using air, not oxygen, and the temperature ranges are very
different. Air/gas is pretty cool and gentle compared to oxy/gas.
Usually its used with torches that give a larger more brushy flame,
rather than small pinpoint flames. In the art schools, the large
torches used for annealing hollowware and the like will be air/gas
torches. The flame will be around the same, temperature wise, as
what you’d get from a plumbers type propane torch, since that is also
a gas only torch, without added oxygen. If you wish to use a
standard Meco, Hoke, or Little torch, though, then you’ll probably
need to add oxygen, as these have much smaller tips, usually, and to
get useful work from small flames like that you usually need to make
them hotter, with an oxygen supply rather than compressed air.

The choice of whether to use air or oxygen will depend both on the
torches you’ve got, and the type of work you wish to do. If you’re
mostly soldering silver, which needs you to heat the whole soldering
area, then you’ll likely find air/gas to be decent to work with. If
you prefer tiny flames, such as for detailed little wire
construction, or work in gold, then you might prefer an oxygen/gas
torch. Most professional workshops use oxygen, but not all. As I
said, in europe, it’s not so uncommon to see the mouth blown
torches, where the air supply is just a mouth blown tube. For
general soldering and fabrication in gold and silver, once one has
mastered the use of these torches, they can give great control over
the flame, and with the generally cooler temperature ranges,
accidentally melting the work is less a danger.

Peter


#16

I think you will need oxygen. The line pressure on natural gas is
not sufficient to drive a gas only torch with any kind of decent
flame. Be careful near the furnace. Be especially cautious about
leaks, and possibly get some kind of detector in the area.

Jim


#17
  Natural gas is not hot enough without oxygen.  You will also find
it is not as hot as the acetylene you have been using even with the
oxygen...although it will be a cleaner flame. 

Mark,

With respect, I’ll disagree with you here. While most folks using
natural gas these days do so with oxygen, in order to use those
torches (meco, hoke, little torch, and others) designed for that type
of combination, there are many fine metalsmiths who’ve done a whole
lot of fine work using just natural gas and compressed air. And some
of that compressed air is supplied by just blowing manually into a
tube on the torch. Such torches take a bit longer to learn to use,
but the people I’ve seen who use them, swear by then, not at them.
They give instant control over changing the flame characteristics,
more easily than adjusting the valve on a torch. I remember in the
late 70s, visiting a number of the finer workshops in London, and in
one, where they had just finished winning one of the diamonds today
(or something like that awards with one of their 18K gold pieces,
everyone used the mouth blown torches. They had an oxygen/gas torch
over at one side bench for when people needed higher heat, but at the
main workbenches, everything was just the gas lines, and a tube with
a mouthpiece for the air on the torches. All producing world class
jewelry.

And in my first jewelry class, back in high school in '68, the
studio was equipped with natural gas and compressed air. I seem to
remember the torches were the “hi heat” brand, or something like
that. You can still buy them. For general silver fabrication, they
work fine. Most compressed air/gas torches use a wider tip with
multiple orifices, and give a fairly large, brushy flame, rather than
a single center pinpoint flame.

It’s when you get to needing tiny flames that are good and hot, or
need to melt more than solder, as in casting, platinum work, or much
gold work, then most of us prefer oxy/gas. In short, while most of
us are using oxygen, not compressed air, to say it’s not hot enough
is a matter of preference, and what one is doing

Also, if Betty is using an air acetylene torch like the prestolite
or Smith Handy Heat, the flame she’s used to is hotter than that
she’d get with air and natural gas, but not as hot as what she’d get
with oxygen and natural gas. I can easily work platinum, even
melting and casting it, with natural gas and oxygen. Sure can’t do
that with a prestolite. Of course, if she’s using acetylene with
oxygen, then you’re right. natural gas and oxygen will be a good deal
cooler. Probably, she’ll prefer it unless she’s using a little
torch and is addicted to the smallest two tips, and maybe the #3 as
well, which are really only useful with acetylene and oxygen, or
hydrogen and oxygen.

Peter


#18

About five years ago, I decided I wanted to use natural gas instead
of acetylene–too dificult/dangerous to refill tanks and transport
them in my car. My husband, said he could connect into the natural
gas line behind my gas dryer and bring the line into the adjacent
garage where I had my bench (counter). Talked to Rio, Smith, gas
company,local jewelry store who talked to their suppliers, etc. We
could not get a straight answer. So we decided to go ahead anyway as
we knew other people used natural gas with oxygen. My husband T’d
off the gas dryer and brought it out to my bench line with a 1/2"
black pipe. I bought a Smith torch for natural gas from Rio. I
still had to use my natural gas tank but I was pretty happy with the
set up. It worked well for all my bench needs, mostly sterling
silver and a little gold-- pendants, belt buckles etc. It was not
so good for melting metals for casting–took too long to melt. So my
husband connected my old acetylene tank with a Y to the natural gas
system so I could have both. Since I don’t really do casting, one
tank of acetylene would have lasted for a long long time. A year
later we moved to an older home that had more space for my husband’s
wood working hobby and my metalsmithing hobby. Since we needed to
upgrade the gas line into the house anyway we had a 3/4" line
brought out to my bench by the plummer. Now I have the ability to
melt metal if I ever decide to do casting with no problem.

My advice to those thinking about natural gas is to go for it. It
is cleaner, safer, and so much more convenient. I’m sure the
pressure here in Tucson is about the same as in most communities.
We all buy the same gas dryers, water heaters, stoves etc as people
in other areas around the US. Also, if you do go this route, you
need a flashback arrestor only on the oxygen side.

Pat Glover


#19

Natural Gas Torches.

I have used a Victor Journeyman Torch body with a Natural Gas
Rosebud tip for casting bronze and 14 K Yellow and White Gold . This
was at TIJT Paris TX.

The Victor Journeyman Torch is an industrial standard. I have used
these all my professional first life ( Millwright ). The newer
torches have check valves built into the handle and are capable of
using the highest number of tips and attachments known to man ( or
Woman ).

If You have need of a large durable, flexible torch which can use
oxygen and any fuel gas, get a Victor Journeyman.

These are BIG torches, but are capable of the finest work. Where I
retired, it was common to " overlook " one of these in a retiring
Millwrights tool box.

The Natural Gas Rosebud tip is modified to allow the natural gas to
burn in a stable environment . Not for everyone, but a joy to use
when called on.

A first choice for Steel, and Art Metal .

ROBB .


#20

With all due respect to Rio, I tried using a plummer when I first
decided to convert to natural gas. The first thing they wanted to
know was “how many BTU’s do you need?” No one at Rio or Smith or
the gas company could answer this. So we put it in and it worked.
Had a friend who tried with a plummer and also had problems. My
husband finally bought my friend the parts (having learned from my
project) and then her plummer installed them. With no disrespect to
plummers, a very good plummer did my second installation as part of
a home renovation. We explained what we wanted, he recommended the
larger pipe (3/4" instead of the 1/2"), and everything works
perfectly. Note: Before I started using the natural gas set up my
husband installed, we had the gas company come out and they checked
the system out for free. Said my husband did a good job and it was
safe to use. Course by this time I had talked to the gas company
tech staff a dozen times or so —they had a vested interest in
getting me off their case. But I would recommend using the gas
company as a resource if anyone tackles this job by themselves.

Pat Glover