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Smith little torches and soldering sterling

Hi everyone:

I have a question relating to soldering. I have graduated to making
sterling, brass, copper and some 14k gold filled jewelry from
riveting to soldering. When I do solder, which is not too often but
hope to do more, I use a large acetylene dispenser and traditional
torch set up. I have copd and though I have set up an exhaust
system, friends have told me that acetylene is dirty as opposed to
propane and oxygen which is cleaner. I was advised to buy a Smith
little torch which should be hooked up to propane and oxygen. Rio
offers a wide variety of Smith little torch set ups which are all
rather expensive. First, should I use Smith little torches with
propane and oxygen to solder sterling? If so, which set up is
appropriate? What should be included in the purchase? What size tips
would be best? Do they sell propane and oxygen tanks and if not where
does one get these tanks? Does anyone know a source to purchase the
torch set up which includes everything. I would like to buy, should I
be advised to do so, a new set up. I have checked ebay and will check
etsy, artfire, Rio and Otto Frei but that is as far as I can go. If
Acetylene is still the best for jump rings, fusing, simple
connections which is all I probably will do, please let me know.

Regards, Barbara


I live in Southern California and I bought my Smith Little Torch
complete kit at Home Depot for around $75.


Barbara -

I use acetylene/air for silver and torch-fired enamels. The only
time it’s ‘dirty’ is when I turn the torch on wrong…too little fuel
when I light up. (So don’t do that and you have no problem.)

Fuel/oxygen is overkill for silver. A fuel/oxy system is best with a
tiny torch tip, which is not silver-friendly. A big, soft flame with
lots of reducing atmosphere is desirable, and that’s what acetylene
gives you.

Some people are successful at using a fuel/oxy torch on silver, but
most people struggle. If you are going to spend the money on a
torch, buy one that suits the heat handling characteristics of the
metal…nice thing about the acetylene/air torch is that you can use
it for gold work as well.

If all you are going to do with silver is fuse jump rings and make
simple (small mass) connections, just get one of the better handheld
mini torches.

FWIW, I have two acetylene/air torches and one acetylene/oxygen
Little Torch setup, which gets almost no use anymore. I once worked
in a place where we used propane/oxygen and HATED doing silver
repair, but that same repair I could have done at home with my
acetylene/air torch and no problem.

best regards,
Kelley Dragon

Hi Barbara,

I have used a Smiths little torch for about three years or so. It
took over from the little butane torches and a Primus plumber’s
torch I used to use. I bought the usual kit with 6 tips and hoses. I
run it on oxygen and propane using the standard industrial regulators
and flashback arrestors. Since I initially also wanted to use it for
melting metal for casting I also bought the larger rosebud tip. The
#1 and #2 tips can’t be used with propane so I usually use a #3 to
#6 tip depending on the amount of metal I have to heat. I can do
fairly large bezel mounts with the #6 tip though if they are too
large I use the rosebud tip because of its sheer heat output and
larger flame allows me to heat from underneath quickly and evenly.

I have melted up to 40g of silver with the rosebud tip, used it for
enamelling and even occasionally to silver solder plumbing fittings.
I no longer use the torch for melting because I now have a gas fired
crucible furnace. Otherwise it is my torch of choice – light in the
hand, easy to adjust, and stable flame. My other torches feel like a
blunt instrument by comparison.

All the best


Smith Little Torch can be used with oxy/acetylene or oxy/propane.
Yes, acetylene is dirty but, IMHO, no worse or better than propane
when used properly. Either way, the best place to buy a Little Torch
outfit is They have wonderful prices. What will cost
though, is the initial tanks. You’re better off buying them directly
from your local plumbing supply. If you buy the tanks online, you’ll
pay a pretty penny for a bright, shiny empty cylinder which you’ll
take to your local plumbing supply. They, in turn, will give you a
couple of beat up, full tanks for about $25-$30. You’ll never see
your pretty tanks again. Best to just buy them for about the same
price, already full directly from the supplier.


Hello Barbara,

If I where you I would start with a little kit, everything you will
need will be included and it will be easier to add or replace later

Smith and or Gentec make a kit that has the torch, hose, regulator
for the disposable tanks. (Tanks that you can get at your local
hardware store in the camping section or automotive) They are more
expensive to run in the long run but they are easy to buy and easy to
move/store. Later on if you start using more you could get larger
tank and matching regulator for those tank.

Propane burns a lot cleaner but is not as hot at acetylene. For me
propane was a good choice as it was hot enough to do everything I
needed to do in silver/gold and it was easier/cheap to setup as I
just when to Wal-Mart and got a BBQ tank that can be refilled at the
corner gas station for a fraction of what acetylene is. I keep the
tank outside next to the BBQ when not in use. You can get thank in 5,
8 and 20 lbs for about $45 CAN. These are all equipped with a CGA 540
valve and will work with standard regulator.

I use a #5 and a propane rosebud on the smith and a large rosebud on
the “victor” style torch when casting. Propane and Natural gas tips
are usually the same.


I keep the tank outside next to the BBQ when not in use. 

Is it any less of a bomb when you’re using it in your shop and you
know…sitting on top of it?


If you’ve been using torches for a long enough time, you can do
almost anything with whatever torch you have at hand. A lot of people
like the Little Torch, and recommend it to others. I have one in my
studio ( a student is using it to fuse small jump rings right now…)
but we also have a number of other dual-fuel torches as well. We also
have 2 Prestolite ( acetylene/ air) torches, which get used for
larger soldering jobs, annealing, and ingot melting and pouring.

The problem I have with the Little Torch is that it can’t be used
for larger silver projects, because its interior plumbing is too
small to allow larger amounts of gas, regardless of tip size, to pass
through to make a larger flame. So a Meco Midget torch with a 1.5 mm
hole in its tip could produce a far hotter flame than a Little Torch
with the same size tip, due to its larger interior tubing size.

So the Little Torch is extremely useful for smaller soldering jobs,
and melting of small amounts of metal.

The problem arises when you need much larger amounts of heat, then
the Little Torch just doesn’t have the “horsepower”.

Since silver is the most fabulous heat conducting metal, it takes a
lot more torch heat to compensate for the heat conduction silver is
noted for. Where one could get away with a smaller torch for gold
work, silver requires some serious heat…

Jay Whaley

Hello Barbara,

Your acetylene unit will work just fine for sterling and other
metals. If you aren’t going to work on Karat Golds then you will be
better off using the acetylene. Silver in particilar already tends to
oxidize when soldering…introducing more oxygen will only make this
worse. The Prestolyte type torches that are single hose and simply
draw free air to mix with the acetylene introduce far less oxygen
into the process. If adjusted properly, the acetylene flame is about
as clean as a dual fuel torch. As well… if you will work away from
the cone of that flame and just keep the torch moving, oxidation is
then even less.

I’m sure some will have other opinions but I’ve been at this 30+
years and thats my thoughts.

Good Luck. Dan.

Sorry I would like to make a correction…

Propane tank have a CGA 510 valve, Oxygen have a CGA 540


Hello more knowledgeable people than me:

Last time I wrote to Ganoksin, I asked for assistance in choosing
the torch to use for small soldering jobs such as jump rings,
annealing small sterling items etc. Alas, I have been quite ill and
cannot find the responses that were so wonderfully sent to my home
email and the ones sent to the orchid site. My question remains as
follows: I have mild COPD and have set up an exhaust system when I
have rarely used my acetylene torch which is in my garage but intend
to do more. I am concerned that the presto torch and the acetylene
might not be appropriate for me-because of the dirtiness of the gas.
A lampworker, suggested that propane and oxygen would be cleaner and
safer for me to use. She suggested that i buy a smith little torch.
Beyond the expense, significant, and learning a new system, I am not
convinced that the propane, smith little and oxygen is the way to go.
Is acetylene a dirty gas? Do I need a more concentrated torch size to
do jump rings, some fusing, annealing, etc like the smith little
torch tips? I have a variety of tips from Presto. Someone mentioned
that a small butane torch would be adequate for some simple
soldering. Can I buy a smith little torch and attach it to my B gas
tank acetylene? If this is the way to go, can someone suggest a
source for purchasing the Smith little torch that will not break the
bank? If anyone can help, I will save the responses this time in a
actual file folder-not on computer.

Regards, Barbara

hi Barbara

i have been using the smith little torch with oxy acetylene for over
25 years although larger silver work such as tea pots and bowels
needs larger cooler flame, small work is is a snap with the set up.

it will take you a bit of practice because the heat can be very
focused. choosing the right tip and gas mixture is a learned skill.
you can get a large range of tips for this torch that will give you a
wide range of application. if i am sand casting or centrifugally
casting under 25 gm of material i use my little torch with the
melting tip. anything over that needs the larger plant. i use the #2
tip for fine chain and re-tipping claws. for most of my silver work i
use the 5, 6, and 7 tips.

as far as acetylene being dirty, it is if you burn it on its own.
soot and carbon build up and fill the air. a good extraction system
and experience with you oxy acetylene ratio is all you need to deal
with this.

acetylene comes with an additive that makes it smell so that you know
if you have a leak. it is a very volatile gas so it might pay to get
someone that uses these gasses to give you a bit of a what for around
safety and use before bringing it into your shop.

I have tried propane and LPG as well a a few others, in my opinion
oxy acetylene is the most versatile and cost effective way to go.

If you have any more questions keep posting on this thread or
contact me directly.

happy day

A smiths little torch on oxy-propane does jump rings just fine. I
usually use a #3 or #4 tip for these depending on the size of the

All the best


...cannot find the responses that were so wonderfully sent to my
home email and the ones sent to the orchid site. 

There is an online archive of the emails sent to this forum.

The link below will take you to a list of all the posts which
contain your name.

You can then click the link to the original question that you sent
to the group.

You can use the “Thread Next” link above each message to follow the
responses, or the “Thread Tree” link to find a list of all the

This will not, unfortunately, help you with messages that were sent
to you instead of to the group.


I’m a relative newbie, learning and working in classes for about a
year now, and ready to set up my own space at home. What kind of
torch (gas) is the question. I’ve seen a lot of debate and
viewpoints. (Propane is dangerous; acetylene is dirty, etc.) In
classes, I’ve used torches with air/acetylene, oxy/acetylene, and
oxy/natural gas. My question right now is—considering “dirtiness”,
is there a difference between air/acet and oxy/acet ? I guess I also
want to ask if people who use oxy/acet wear dark glasses or think
that they should (even if they don’t). My teacher has the
oxy/acettorch only for focused high heat work, and requires glasses.
This was brought up in the forum a few months ago, and not followed
through. Thank you for further and your opinions.

Another Barbara H. in California

My teacher has the oxy/acettorch only for focused high heat work,
and requires glasses. 

Your teacher is correct. There is no reason to use oxygen/acetylene
unless very high heat is required. Glasses is a good idea because
brightness of the flame can damage the eyesight. Under some
conditions it would be like looking directly at the Sun.

The best flame for soldering is air/propane or air/natural gas. This
has some logistical issues, so taking into account convenience
factor, oxygen/propane is used. In my practice, even when I use
oxygen/propane flame, I still try to get it as close to air/propane
flame envelope, as possible and when really fine control is called
for, I switch to air/propane mode.

Leonid Surpin