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Oxy-hydrogen torch recommendations


#1

I am getting back into making silver jewelry, and am looking at
torch options. I need something that is easy to store and transport,
and is clean-burning (this last one is very important, as my
workspace for the foreseeable future is my studio apartment, and I
don’t want a lot of soot showing up on my couch and bed). After
looking online, and through the Orchid archives, I have found a few
references to hydrogen/oxygen torch setups that create the gasses on
the fly using electricity, distilled water, and a few other
chemicals. This sounds very appealing to me for several reasons: unit
size, constant gas supply, and small torch dimensions among them.

It sounds like several of you may have used these torches, and I was
wondering if you had any opinions about specific models/brands or
vendors that have treated you well? Currently I am looking at the
Arizona HydroGen MG-25 and the Okai HydroFlux Welder, but I haven’t
seen anything to place one above the other, or many other contenders
for this market to compare them against. Also, I am still open to
other torch options if you have found that these oxy-hydrogen devices
are not all that they’re marketed to be.

Thank you for all of the you are putting out there
through this list; it is really a great resource.

  • Marshall Watson

#2

I wanted to use this system, but couldn’t get hydrogen in small
bottles in this area. Also the companies that refill oxygen/acetylene
or propane didn’t want any part of my using hydrogen for gas. They
all seemed to think it is more dangerous than other bottled gases,
but nothing is more dangerous than propane or butane or natural gas.
Those gases all settle to the floor and build up. rcp


#3
    I have found a few references to hydrogen/oxygen torch setups
that create the gasses on the fly using electricity, distilled
water, and a few other chemicals. I was  wondering if you had any
opinions about specific models/brands or vendors that have treated
you well? 

I have a L&R Aqua-torch, and for what I do (strictly sterling
silver) it works just fine. It doesn’t make a big enough flame to
melt metal for casting, but it puts out enough heat to solder
reasonably large pieces. In fact, since I learned to solder using
only this torch, it’s been quite a challenge because it’s often too
hot… The one drawback of hydrogen torches is their price…they’re
not inexpensive. Here’s a link to the company’s page on their torch:
http://www.lrultrasonics.com/industries/industrial/aqua.html

–Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Pet Motif Jewelry
http://www.featheredgems.com


#4

Hello RCP, Many folks are wary of hydrogen as a fuel. Remember the
Hindenberg? Hydrogen was used to fill the dirigible. Wonder what
is used in the Goodyear Blimp? Judy in Kansas

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
B.A.E. 237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhatttan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936 FAX (785) 532-6944


#5
    Many folks are wary of hydrogen as a fuel.  Remember the
Hindenberg?  Hydrogen was used to fill the dirigible. 

I do think that the oxy-hydrogen torch that the original poster
asked about is a “water torch”, which manufactures oxygen and
hydrogen from water only in the amount needed at the second. No tanks
of hydrogen are present, just tiny amounts. Soon as the torch is shut
off, the hydrogen is gone.

–Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Pet Motif Jewelry
http://www.featheredgems.com


#6

Judy, Helium floats the goodyear blimp. I’ve always found that
flamable (and even potentially explosive) gases work best for
torches.

Jeff


#7

The Hindenberg -

Amazing how, after almost 65 years have passed since this tragedy,
that Hydrogen still evokes such a fear in many minds! Studies have
shown that while Hydrogen is flammable and potentially dangerous, it
was not the Hydrogen that caused that horrific fire - it was the
aluminum based paint on the skin of the Zeppelin that went up in a
flash! I wonder if the oil industry has had any hand in sustaining
this fear . . . The Zeppelin didn’t explode (like a similar volume
of natural gas would). The flames raced across the skin of the craft
and ignited other sources within the craft.

“Careful investigation of the Hindenburg disaster verified the
opinion of the engineers on the Hindenburg and proved that it was the
flammable aluminum powder filled paint varnish that coated the
infamous airship, not the hydrogen that started the fateful fire.”

“The Hindenburg repeated the famous experiment of Ben Franklin
regarding collection of electric charge on an object in the sky. Ben
Franklin flew a kite in a storm to learn about lightening. The
captain of the Hindenburg provided the 800’ long, 236 ton,
aluminum-powder varnish covered airship as a much larger electric
charge collector. As the Hindenburg was grounded by dropping landing
lines, the experiment was complete and electrical discharge in the
Hindenburg’s skin started the fire. The Hindenburg would have burned
and crashed if it had been filled with helium or simply held in the
air by some other force.”

“As eyewitnesses noted, the hydrogen fire started considerably after
the Hindenburg’s surface skin started to burn and was over in less
than one minute. The diesel fuel and other heavier-than-air
components of the Hindenburg continued to burn many hours on the
ground.”

http://www.clean-air.org/hindenberg.htm

Regards,
Mark


#8
    I do think that the oxy-hydrogen torch that the original poster
asked about is a "water torch", which manufactures oxygen and
hydrogen from water only in the amount needed at 

Yes, that’s what I thought too. They are a small self contained unit
which require distilled water and some liguid flux that is added, if
I remember right. I worked at a custom jewelry store where my boss
had a Hydroflux Welder on his bench. He used it for soldering
platinum. I soldered platinum at my bench too but I used natural gas
and oxygen rather than the oxy-hydrogen.

What I remember is that it had a relatively small, very hot, flame.
He often had trouble keeping the torch lit. It seemed to me to have
very little range of use. I have just now looked one up in the Rio
Grande catolog. Hydroflux units are still almost $1000 and there is
a picture of the type of flame they produce. The ad says it can
solder or fuse platimun up to 22 grams and can solder a heavy size
13 class ring. I never felt that my boss’ unit could do that but
perhaps the new units are better. There’s another one called Hot
Flame. I’ve never seen it in action. It is $1690.

I’m sticking with my oxygen/propane torch but it would still be
interesting to hear if anyone in the Orchid group is regularly using
a “water torch.”

Jennifer
Highland Goldsmith


#9

Jennifer

You are right…the oxy-hydrogen generators do produce a very hot
flame. Up as high as 5000 deg or more. And the flame is extremely
small…even the largest flame they produce is small and it gets
smaller from there. I am not an expert on the machines but we have
one at our gem and mineral shop and I have used it a number of times.
It is perfect for replacing prongs, tipping and sizing any kind or
size of ring. It is most effecient on platinum as the flame is
perfectly clean. They are easy to maintain, very small footprint and
easy to use. AND, they are safe. Some malls will not permit propane
or acytelene so the only thing the kioske operators can have is an
hydrogen generator.

I never have problems keeping ours lit…don’t know why your boss
did.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2


#10

I have some good things to say about my Hydroflux Welder along with
a couple of warnings and questions:

I have been using my Hydroflux exclusively on my fabrication bench
for about the last 5 years. The largest tip is sufficient to solder
a large heavy man’s ring or to harden and temper 1/4 inch drill rod.
I like it because it requires less space than welding tanks and
does not require a time consuming trip to the welding store for
refills. It also is able to achieve smaller more focused flames
than most oxy-acetylene.

Problems: My first problem was that I noticed that the maximum heat
available for my larger tips was diminishing. The flame would start
out large then gradually reduce in size. During maintenance, I found
that the nuts that fastened the secondary transformer coils to the
reactor chamber electrode circuit had become loose. Loose connections
in a high amperage circuit produce a lot of heat. The heating and
cooling probably caused the connection to become looser over time.
Tightening the nuts solved the problem. I now check them during
annual maintenance.

A problem that continues to bother me is the sight tube to check the
level of the electrolyte. It is a short length of clear polymer
tubing connected to the reaction chamber so that the electrolyte in
the tubing maintains the same level as in the reaction chamber. The
user is supposed to maintain the level in the chamber by frequently
checking the level in the sight tube. However, the electrolyte
becomes discolored over time and discolors the sight tube until it
is very difficult to determine the electrolyte level. I correct
this problem by replacing the sight tube during annual maintenance.
However, the sight tube is located in a place where replacement is
difficult and somewhat frustrating. It is important to note that
the handle hose and sight tube are not made from the type of plastic
tubing that is available at the hardware store; the manufacturer
should be contacted for the tubing specifications. (I found an
industrial polymer tubing called “Tygon” that might work but have
not contacted the manufacturer about it.)

My third problem occured just last week when I struck up my torch
after several days of inactivity. After a period of inactivity, the
mixture in the line becomes less flammable. (I’m not sure of the
reason, but suspect that alcohol and water vapor replace the
oxy-hydrogen mix) When striking the torch after a period of
inactivity, I usually let the gas generator run for a minute or so
to build up pressure, put on the largest tip and flush the line with
fresh gas before striking. In this case, I was in a hurry and tried
lighting the torch too soon.

The mixture in the chamber, the hose, and the handle is generated as
a perfectly proportioned flame reaction mixture. The torch must be
designed in a way to prevent the flame from following the perfect
mixture back to the source. The first defense against a "backfire"
is the velocity of the gas as it is ejected from the tip. It
literally “blow out” any fire that tries to follow the mixture back
to the source. In my case, the unit had not come up to pressure and
the flame was able to follow the mixture back into the inside of the
handle. my hose was saved from the fire by the second line of
defense: a sintered metal filter in the handle.

When the fire first started, I was not aware that there was a fire.
Only when the handle began to get too hot to touch did I realize
what happened. I turned off gas generator as soon as I became aware
of the problem. However, by now a supply of gas had built up inside
the generator that continued to feed the fire. The handle continued
to grow hotter. When I realized that the fire was continuing to
burn, I detached the hose from the handle. I had a bit of
anticipation over this, knowing that the gas in the hose would be
released in the vicinity of my too-hot-to-hold handle. Hopefully, I
can repair the handle by replacing the melted O-rings. I have
e-mailed the manufacturer for specifications and instructions.

This accident was caused by my failure to follow the manufacturer’s
instructions which clearly stated that I should allow the pressure
to build before striking the torch. I came out with only minor
burns on my hand from detaching the hose from the hot handle.
Please believe me, I will not forget to follow this particular
instruction again.

My question: does anyone know on which end of the sintered filter
in the handle that the O-ring goes? I was a little hasty
dissembling the handle. Does it go on the tip end or the hose end?
If you know, please respond off-forum.

Thanks,
Howard Woods
feeling somewhat foolish and
Anticipating the spring bloom in my Eagle Idaho garden.


#11

About Hydrogen…

I wrote a feature article for AJM a few years ago called “torch
song”. It has a lot of detail on the gases and even electric methods
to melt gold. I’m an advocate of hydrogen. Been trained in most of
the torch fuels including acetylene, propane, natural gas (methane)
and my favorite is hydrogen by far. Numerous shops have reduced
solder pits just be switching to hydrogen for the torches. For torch
casting it provides more than enough heat for silver, gold, and even
platinum. Hydrogen is so light that a leak presents less of a threat
than most others particularly acetylene or propane.

All the fuel gases contain enough energy to be lethal. None are as
hot and clean as hydrogen. There is no carbon in the gas unlike all
the others. This means no carbon by products like carbon monoxide or
dioxide.

Daniel Ballard
WWW.Pmwest.us


#12

Hi All, I’d like to echo the praises of Hydogen. All my soldering
tasks are covered with our Spir Flame water torch. You know, I
haven’t given it much thought since I got the unit in '99. I’m OK at
shop maintenance. I’m usually so busy that scheduled maintenance
takes a back seat to all the other work we do. We plugged it in and
have been running it hard ever since. The squeaky wheel gets greased,
but this wheel hasen’t squeaked in five years. This thread on
Hydrogen has reminded me to pay some attention to the unit…even if
you take into consideration the axiom " if it ain’t broke, don’t fix
it"! I considered other water torch units but heard the break down
and flash back stories along with the babysitting and codling needed
to coax them along.


#13
 Spir Flame water torch 

Do you have a site where I can look and possibly purchase this unit?


#14

Hi All, I was trying to make my letter a draft last night and sent
it by mistake! I was bragging about our Spir Flame water torch and
hadn’t added the last few things. When you look at the cost of the
unit, the initial response is “ouch”, but I can honestly say after
five years of soldering with incredible accuracy, safety &
reliability that this unit is a bargain. If you’re ever in Maine you
can try mine, call me at 207-729-3599 or better yet talk to Gary
Miller who is the sales guy (and who has spent his total career in
the jewelry biz) at 800-499-9933. John, J.A.Henkel Co., Inc.,
Moldmaking Casting Finishing, Producing Solutions For Jewelry
Artists


#15
 Spir Flame water torch 
Do you have a site where I can look and possibly purchase this
unit? 

I was contacted by a sales representitive for the torch; he is
sending me a handle to try out:

Gary W. Miller
Sr. Technical Advisor
35 Bronson Road
Stratford, CT 06614-3654 U. S. A.
Telephone: 800 499 9933/203 378 5216
Fax: 203 386 1346
E-mail: gwmiller.sat@spirig.net or serve4gwm@aol.com

Thanks,
Howard Woods
Eagle Idaho


#16
    Do you have a site where I can look and possibly purchase this
unit? 

Found using Google:
http://www.spirig.com/products/microflaming/la2001/index.html And
it’s Spirflame. Beth