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New to oxy acelytene soldering

Richard Hart is correct that the flame of an oxy-acetylene torch
itself is not damaging to the eyes, but rather, that bright light
radiating from metals heated to very high temperatures by the torch
can be. Someone suggested that the flame is dangerous, and used the
fact that welders wear dark glasses as evidence. Well, they do, but
they don’t do it because of the flame, they do it because of the
brightness caused by welding ! Iyt’s really that simple.
Oxy-acetylene welding of steel is bright enough to do some damage,
while arc welding and plasma cutting are even brighter, and so the
glasses/goggles for that are darker. Brazing with bronze also
requires dark glasses, mostly (if not completely) because the flux
gets very bright. Brazing with silver (aka ‘silver soldering’) does
not require dark glasses, as we all know, and as far as I know (40
years of welding, soldering, brazing, melting, burning, and general
pyrotecnic mayhem, with oxy-acet, air-acet, air-natural gas, and
propane torches) it doesn’t matter what the torch is. At silver
solder temperatures, it’s all about how bright what you’re working
on gets, and things aren’t bright enough at 1600 F to hurt your
eyes. I have never soldered silver, or silver soldered with welding
glasses, but I have absolutely always welded with them.


However, it has been more than 40 years since I read the welding
instruction book I gotwhen I was 14, so, for alll I know,
technically, it may not beadvisable to stare into the oxyacetylene
flame for long. I have always adjusted the flame without goggles,
when I am welding, and without goggles when soldering or torching
dies. So I will leave it to one of you nice people to reference a
welding manual to find out from the Welding Horse’s mouth, about the
safety of adjusting oxyacet torches without weldingglasses. If it is
damaging, I expect it would have damaged my eyes by now, because
I’ve looked into the flame many thousands of times. The torches
aren’t even their brightest in the range of welding and brazing flame
mixtures ; that happens with a mostly acetylene flame, when the
feather is several inches to a foot long, depending on the tip, and
a very bright yellowish orange. The blues of welding and brazing just
aren’t that bright. Butlet’s see what the welding book says…

Dear Vernon,

Thanks for your thoughts.

I started torch use in 1971 with an Acetylene Prestolite torch and
used it (with considerable porosity issues) until I apprenticed as a
bench jeweler in a manufacturing factory. I have a black spot in my
vision I attribute to this torch.

I cast with Oxy/Acetylene when I attended the University of
Minnesota. Lots of problems between finding the right flame, soot and
too bright a flame trying to find the right one to use. I myself
could never fabricate well with this welders set up. That’s just me.

Learning torch flame adjustment can create a too bright a flame more
with oxy/acetylene that any other combination. Does anyone teach the
difference between an oxidizing, neutral and reducing flame anymore?
Add the soot (that you may also breath in) and my choice is as I

Switching to Natural Gas and ultimately Propane made the quality of
my work improve considerably. I chose the jewelry industry learning
curve as well as learned much on my own with trial and error as we
all do. Propane is a bit hotter than Natural Gas, but I have also
done research into the difference between the two. Propane has IMO is
the cleanest most consistent fuel. The flashback arrestors will work
on any of these set ups also.

The metal artists and some bench jewelers will stand by the
oxy/acetylene set up, I won’t argue with anyone’s choice. All of this
is of course my opinion. But as I always say, I never made any of
this stuff up, I was just taught by (to my great honor), three master
jewelers. I to this day will treasure each lesson shared by them.

As usual, just some thoughts.

Todd Hawkinson

So, am I to understand that when I’m melting gold or silver to make
an ingot, that I should be wearing tinted lenses?

Thank you for any replies.
Vicki S.

I have a black spot in my vision I attribute to this torch. 

Todd, has an ophthalmologist seen you to rule out macular


So, am I to understand that when I'm melting gold or silver to
make an ingot, that I should be wearing tinted lenses? 

Gold and silver melt at temperatures low enough that they are not
significantly incandescent when liquid. When molten, silver and gold
glow with only a low red heat. In jewelry it is only the platinum
family of metals which are soldered, or melted, at such high
temperatures that they glow with damaging light. Never solder
platinum without the proper tinted eye wear.

Elliot Nesterman

Yes, this is what I was taught and this is how I teach melting.

A # 5 dark lens is what I recommend.

Todd Hawkinson

Hi Dar,

I would do two things.

Go the source of your oxygen fill. These are usually Welders
Suppliers and ask them how you should light and adjust your oxy/acet

Second, ask a welder if they find they light their torch and find
the right flame without their goggles.

If you haven’t damaged your eyes in all the time I would say you are

As I mentioned before I have a black spot in my vision I blame on

I usually never base my opinions on luck.

One more safety note is lighting the torch. If OSHA here in the USA
would see you light the torch with a disposable lighter, the last
time I hear is was a $250.00 fine.

Those inspectors are rarely around though. The only inspectors I
have ever dealt with are City Fire Marshals.

Kind and safe regards,
Todd Hawkinson

So, am I to understand that when I'm melting gold or silver to
make an ingot, that I should be wearing tinted lenses?

Sorry, I should have added that I am NOT using acetylene, but rather
oxy/propane to make ingots of gold.

Vicki S.

Dear Lorraine,

I have my eyes check every three years or so. Bi focal lenses now.
Vision is always a concern.

The jewelers use of microscopes is now an area I am exploring. For
close work now I’m using a #10 Optivisor.

This spot appeared in 1977 using the Prestolite Acetylene/Air torch.

I remember when it appeared. I can ignore it now.

Everyone can certainly use any torch that works for them. My views
are from a traditional apprenticeship that is all but gone in the US

There was even a Jewelers Trade Union when I started.

I suppose I could start up another debate about the Gasoline and
pressure torch too.

Kind regards & safety,
Todd Hawkinson

All I can say on this subject is that I have been making jewelry for
over 45years some years working 16+ hours a day for months on end. I
have melted lots of gold and silver over the years, I only use tented
glasses when working with Platinum. My eyes are still goodfor a 68
year old.

Does it hurt to use tented glasses. no. Do you have to. in my case
not really nor in the case of the 13 goldsmiths that used to work
for me… Just my experience over the years. Do what you feel is right
for you and use common sense…

Vernon Wilson
Panama Bay Jewelers

Dear Vicki,

I use Propane & Oxygen for casting, annealing and ingot pouring.

I use a # 5 welders goggle for this.

I use Propane & Oxygen and no goggles for most bench work.

I have both a Meco Midget and Hoke torches.

My large melting torch is a Smith Lifetime AW 10 JIC with a Rosebud

Hoses are type “T” from a welder supply.

Todd Hawkinson

I asked a question or two about torches a few days back - unleashed
a great torrent of wisdom and experience from many of you - some of
it kind of tangential but that was GREAT! because out of it all I
learned a whole bunch of stuff. Never too old to learn. THANK YOU
for the sharing of your experience.

Marty in Victoria. BC - Used to be where old Canadians retired - now
it’s the world epicentre of rescued “rescue dogs”. A town with a

Dear Vernon,

I will say that your skill level must be very high. Old school is
good school.

And of course if something works well for you don’t change anything.

We all have great histories and stories I would love to hear more

Best Regards,
Todd Hawkinson

Thanks Todd. We all do have great stories and I will share one now
with everyone.

I started 2 years ago a program to teach the blind how to make
jewelry. Crazy idea I know but yesterday I had 2 of my students
making pewter earrings hammering over the bezels to hold the inlay
in place and making them into earring jackets…

When I started the program I was hopeful they could do bead
stringing. they keep pushing my mental limitations I had on them.
one of my students has learned how to drill holes in beads… No they
do not use a torch. everything Is designed to be mechanically
assembled and they do it all very well. Here are some photos of them

Vernon Wilson
Panama Bay Jewelers

Dear Vernon,

I’ve got one a little similar.

Perhaps twenty years ago I also had a visually challenged student.

Coming from academia I could never say basic and descriptive titles
without getting into a lot of trouble.

My near blind. um… visually challenged student after six months
of showing me every assignment after every correction flunked out of
the program.

I really made every effort to facilitate his learning.

I found out he had a strong and thick prescription pair of glasses,
but didn’t like how he looked in them.

On his last day he showed up wearing them. In my opinion they did
not look bad.

That was at least six month of struggling with vanity I could have
done without.

I think someone should have counselled him into a program where he
would have found more success.

Best regards,
Todd Hawkinson

Well Vernon

That story is about as cool as i can handle. You make us all proud
by your deeds.

Cellini must be happy too…

PS would love to meet you some day

Franz anytime you want to come to Panama I can always use a
assistant:-) The Ministry of Labor here wants me to open this up to
all people with disabilities. Nation wide. Think I might be too old
for all this work by myself. Will see how that works out over the
next year.

Vernon Wilson

A couple of my students had problems at first but after a while they
caught on and realized I was doing this for them for free and I was
not getting paidfor doing it. Changed their attitudes and it has been
a pleasure working with them ever sense.

Vernon Wilson
Panama Bay Jewelers

Doesn’t matter they both very bright when the flame is big enough to
melt with. Use a #5 lens for gas welding and what you will be doing.
For arc you need a 10. I modified my opti visor with the smaller #5
from any welding shop, or just get goggles. Try to get something you
can flip up easily for when you are doing things like looking for
Flux that you forgot.

You also need that lens for platinum, even soldering it.

Torch. Turn on gas lightly, light it and as shoo as you can add oxy.

Play with it there are different flames. Look it up. It’s easy.

If you have a pair of optivisors I can show you how to put your lens
on that. That rocks. You take off the magnifiers.