Smith Little Torch for Disposable Tanks

I’m new to silversmithing/jewellery making and starting to select my
tools. During my course we used a Prest-O-Lite Acetylene/Air torch
with minor grief. Upon going to the local jewellers supply store,
the owner recommended a Smith Little Torch for Disposable Tanks,
saying that it would respond to my every need, allow me to work with
metals other than silver if my interests expand, and negated the
need for the acetylene tank. I know that torches are a subject of
personal preference, but I would appreciate some feedback and


Hello Randy,

the owner recommended a Smith Little Torch for Disposable Tanks,
saying that it would respond to my every need, allow me to work
with metals other than silver if my interests expand, and negated
the need for the acetylene tank. 

Actually the recommendation is not to out of line. When I teach
soldering classes on the road at trade shows I use this system and I
have to say it works pretty darn good. There are a few limitations
to take into consideration however. First, disposable oxygen tanks
only have 1.4 oz net weight of oxygen compared to propane’s 14.1oz,
and last about 30 minutes of continual use with a #5 tip. Second,
oxygen tanks are pricey and, someone please correct me if I’m wrong
here, propane consumes oxygen at about a 4:1 ratio. So while your
propane will last the oxygen will need to be replaced quite a bit
more frequently. Thirdly, the multi orifice melting tip can not be
used with disposable tanks.

Before I committed to using the disposable system I ran a test using
a #5 tip and a neutral flame and ran it till the oxygen was
depleted, again, I got a little over 30 minutes. This Spring I
taught 3 one day classes and I only changed a handful of oxygen
tanks. Not what I was expecting in a good way. One other thing to
consider, you can always change the torch handle and hose to a
typical torch system down the road.

Hope this helps,

Thackeray Taylor
Rio Grande Technical Sales and Support
800-545-6566 ex 13903

They will work but are uneconomical to operate.

1319 W. Alabama
Houston, Texas 77006
voice 713 610 1162

The last thing you said means the most - torches being a personal
preference… I have two thoughts about your shopkeeper’s advise.
Disposable tanks are expensive in the long run. Plus they are
relatively small. The problem with the little torch is that it’s
little. I used a Prestolite doing silver work for nearly ten years -
I’d say that if you are going to do only silver, maybe a bit of gold,
brass, what have you, then it’s hard to beat. My wife has a little
torch on her bench, and she’s all the time coming to mine to get a
big flame. The need to heat up a big piece of silver (you don’t have
to do that with gold) means that with a little torch, even with the
biggest tip, you’re going to be limited to a certain, fairly small
size of work in silver. I worked hundreds of ounces of silver, pieces
up to a pound, with a prestolite torch - sometimes two, for a huge


the little torch is great but it’s what i have for small work, i
also have a prest-o-lite for larger silver work. you can get the
little torch with the disposable, and i believe you can also use the
same torch with regular larger propane/oxygen tanks though you will
need to get regulators there around $80 i think for each tank. so it
depends on what your working with i guess, for gold work i would say
get the little torch works great. you can also call any of the
distributors with questions for future use and converting from
disposable to regular tanks, they will help you with that.

best of luck
heather mackenzie

I have been using these Little Torches with disposable tanks for
about a year. I need them because I do solder work in my house and
don’t have the space or ventilation for the tank setup, and they are
cheaper to use being a hobbyist. They do however, have several
limitations. For one they are NO substitute for a good acetylene
torch. The disposable units can only use propane and MAPP gas tanks
(along with oxygen). These do not reach the temperatures acetylene
does, so they are not good for annealing or melting. MAPP gas is
hotter than propane, but produces carbon monoxide when burned, so
good ventilation is required. Most people I know who use these
disposable tank torches only use propane. It is less hazardous, and
can solder silver and most gold. These are not for the busy
professional. The tanks only last for about half a dozen normal
solder jobs (i.e. cabochon bezels, rings, pendants). The oxygen
tanks will empty first, so you more of these on hand than propane.
Whoever told you they would meet your every need is sorely mistaken.
Only silver, brass, copper and soft gold can be properly soldered
with this setup. Some harder gold need higher temperatures than
propane. And you can forget about platinum. Personally I would like
to have a separate plain acetylene torch (along with these
disposable tanks), for annealing, melting and anything requiring
higher temperature soldering. In my opinion the disposable tanks are
for hobbyists and part-time jewelers/crafters. They are not suited
to a busy shop. The one small tankless unit I would really prefer,
if a had the money, is the Hydroflux torch. It is small enough for a
small shop. Safer since it uses water to produce a hydrogen/oxygen
torch gas, and just darn cool!! It also is hot enough to do small
annealing work.


I used the little torch with disposable tanks all the time. The big
problem is it’s not cost efficent in the long run. The propane small
tanks are only $3 and last a long time, but you will go through the
oxygen very quickly and it’s $9 a bottle. If you find that you are
setting up a permant studio, I recommend getting the big tanks, at
least the oxygen if anything. Tank places sell, but you can always
rent or lease for awhile until you are sure of the investment. You
will need to purchase your own regulators, but I just bought mine
directly from the tank place and I got a good deal on brand new ones
and also saved on shipping.

Hope this helps-
Take care,
Stephanie Swanson