I want to be able to ball up 18k wire and do some *simple*
soldering. I also want a small, hand-held torch that isn't
complicated to use, preferably with a SMALL tank (8" or less);
possibly disposable. I'd be happy with one from the hardware store
if it will get hot enough to work with 18k.
One of those butane torches readily available from your local
hardware store will do it. You buy a disposable tank of fuel and fill
the torch from it. You can find the fuel where you buy the torch, or
wherever tobacco products are sold.
As an aside: when as a college student I started doing silver and
gold work as a hobby, but I was restricted to an alcohol lamp and a
brass blowpipe (used in chemical analysis), later a miniature alcohol
blowtorch that I discovered in a hardware store. I was able to melt
14K gold a couple of dwt at a time. So while BTU output was very
limited, the temperature was ample. That was 55 years ago. A butane
torch is much simpler! Later on I bought a plumber’s propane torch,
which was much larger, but still convenient and quite inexpensive.
Sometime metal melter in Virginia