Is Propane an acceptable source of heat for soldering without using
Oxygen? What are the drawbacks?
Is Propane an acceptable source of heat for soldering without using
Thats all they use in Mexico!! In the US Acteylene with air seems
more normal. Propane is cheaper, a little safer in some ways, and
doesn’t make soot as easily. Oxygen increases the temperature and the
heat concentration so the work heats faster. It also makes metal
puddles easier to get. Jesse
Andrea, As far as I know it is impossible to solder without oxygen.
Propane cannot properly heat the object in terms of soldering. Why
would you need to solder without O2? If it can be done you would have
to have a flame 6 inches long, and I still don’t think it would work.
Hi Andrea, I used those throw away propane canisters for my first
twelve years of making small silver & gold jewelry. You do get used
to the weight of the canisters. The drawback being the lack of heat,
so when I was soldering a large bracelet or goblet I used two of them
at once. Hope this helps, good luck.
Is Propane an acceptable source of heat for soldering without using Oxygen? What are the drawbacks?
For years, before I could afford acetylene or an oxy-fuel torch, I
made lots of jewelry using a propane blowtorch like the cheap ones
available in most hardware stores. It was adequate for lots of
things, but did not give the sort of fine control you can get with a
more professional torch. If you think about the way people make
jewellry in places like India, using blow pipes and alcohol flames,
you will realize that you can make do with all sorts of
less-than-fancy tools. MP
My very first torch was a Bernzomatic using disposable propane tanks
(no oxy). Holding the tank right next to my head kind of disturbed me
sometimes, but, it was the only thing I had…and it served me well
for many years! When I could finally afford to set up a Little Torch,
the bernz was history. The flame size is fairly large and it forces
you to heat up the whole piece (like you’re supposed to when
soldering silver). There is a flexible hose attatchment that may help
the tank-next-to-your-head issue, and is definitely not as heavy to
handle. I would only recommend this kind of torch if you’re more of a
hobbyist or beginner wary of investing a lot of money on tools.
Good Luck! Marlo M.
Propane is quite similar to natural gas in it’s behavior. It’s
wonderful used with oxygen for most jewelry making operations. With
only air, either from a compressor or on a torch that mixes
atmospheric air automatically, it also works well, but like natural
gas used this way, it’s a relatively cool flame. This is fine for
larger scale soldering where you’re generally heating the whole area,
such as in most silver fabrication, and in gold as well. But it’s
less suited to highly detailed work where you’re trying to concentrate
on only one area of a piece in soldering, which is what a great deal
of commercial gold work, such as repair work, or complex fabrication
in gold, can be. It will work, but it’s harder to use and a bit more
limited for this, than is an oxygen/gas torch. However, if you’re
fabricating new work in silver, and don’t need that pinpoint
selectivity of a tiny flame, then air/propane will be fine.
Propane has the advantage over natural gas that it comes in tanks for
very economical prices. Bottled natural gas can cost more. Propane
is slightly hotter than natural gas, but not, I think, by enough to
make a big difference in practice. It’s biggest drawback is a safety
issue that’s significant, but easily dealt with. Propane is a heavy,
dense, gas, and if your tank leaks, it has a tendancy to sink to the
floor and “pool”. In, for example, a basement workshop without good
ventilation, a slow leak can cause the gas to build up in
concentration at the floor level (where it’s harder to smell) until
something like a water heater or furnace pilot light can cause an
explosion) By contrast, most other fuel gases are more volatile, and
dissipate more rapidly. In a closed room, of course, they can still
produce dangerous concentrations, but with any ventilation at all,
it’s less likely, and they are usually easier to detect due to the
smell. Propane explosions of this sort are not common, simply because
attention to the condition of your tank and regulator, and being
careful that the tank is properly shut off when your not using it,
prevents such event. But, now and then, they DO happen. I don’t feel
it’s an issue deserving of great paranoia, but it certainly IS an
issue of which you need to be aware, and which you need to take care
to prevent if you’re using propane in your shop. I should also
mention that this generally applies to the larger tanks of propane,
such as what people use on gas barbaques, and larger. If all you are
using is the little portable tanks, such as what a bernzomatic torch
uses, then don’t worry. Not enough gas in there to blow up even a
small room. But those little tanks are a really expensive way to go
over time, despite the low initial cost…
Hope this helps.
Soldering without oxygen works fine, it is an aquired skill that few
people have the experience with.In Asia, we learned to Solder Using
Gasoline !!! I will Post a picture soon of a Simple , but effective
Propane torch that requires no Oxygen and will handle most jobs…
the only draw back is that it takes a little longer and the tip is
not as concentrated as an Oxy-propane/Acetylene system using the
minitorch(which is the best system for all around work. this of
course is my opinion.) Regards to All
Daniel Grandi http://www.racecarjewelry.com
It is not impossible to solder silver without oxygen. I did it for
many many years. Granted your piece cannot be too large or all you
end up with is unsoldered metal and lots and lots of firescale! ARG!
But to answer your question, it is possible to solder with just
propane or just acetylene. Laney
Laney Clark Kinetic Jewelry Designs
Torches are available that burn acetylene or propane and boost the
temperature not with oxygen but with ambient air. Long ago
jewelry-makers used alcohol lamps with mouth-powered blow-pipes, or
foot-powered bellows. BewaRe: any flame gives off carbon monoxide at
the least and maybe lots of of other toxins, as do molten fluxes,
solders and metals like brass-- so ventilation and/or a respirator
mask with any joining process is a must.
I learned silver work with a bernzomatic ™ hand torch. It used a
14 ounce cylinder of propane for fuel, and atmospheric oxygen was
drawn in through holes in the side of the torch tip. I also taught
using this torch for many, many years, because it is inexpensive and
readily available. You can even get small tips, and a flexible hose
(Flexi-Fire) so as not to have to hold the fuel cylinder while solder.
I also used it for doing small melts for silver casting - up to 4 or 5
rings at once. No problems with oxides or porosity.
Jim Small, SMALL WONDERS
Andrea, I have taught silversmithing for over 25 years, and have
always taught students to begin with a $10.00 propane torch from a
hardware store. They get plenty hot enough for nearly all silver
projects, except for large bracelets and buckles. For most projects I
only recommend a 3/4 to 1 inch flame. I teach with this torch because
any one can use it almost any where, they are safe, and only cost
$10.00. They can make thousands of dollars of silver jewelry which can
give the beginner the cash to purchase more and better equipment,
including a better torch. Propane can get plenty hot enough (even this
$10.00 torch) to melt a ounce or two sterling silver. If you have not
tried an inexpensive torch, you may want to give it a try.
All the jewelry made by my students on my site were soldered by using
this $10.00 torch, so you will know that I am not crazy. You will see
that it gets plenty hot enough to melt enough silver to do steam
casting, too. Just check our steam casting and you will see the photos
of this torch being used.
Please visit my web sites:
Lots of silversmithing tips and
Andrea, If you are using good burners, propane is very good for
soldering and even melting small (50-100gr) amounts of gold and
silver. Good burners are for example from Siever. They have a very
good pencil burner of 10 mm. in diameter for propane. I usually use for
this type for gold repairs . For bigger work you can use a 12-14 mm
propane flame and for melting a 20 mm propane flameshould be enough. I
found the oxygen burners to hot for very small and hollow gold work.
For silver it is often handier to use propane and oxygen, due to the
heat conductivity of silver. Also you can use a reducing flame of an
oxygen burner (give lower amount of oxygen) and prevent so staining of
silver. And for melting is oxygen faster. but you can easy overheat
the melt and burn out low melting alloys. But sometimes i use a lot of
oxygen to burn sjit out of gold alloys.
However it is a bit of habituation what types of burners you will use
after a few years if you have both types. I use mostly the 10 mm
propane and a 0.2 ,1.5 and 5mm oxygen/propane burner.
If you’re a jewelry learner like me you need oxygen and a decent
small torch like the Little Torch. I tried to make do with cheaper
combos and propane/air for a couple of years of burnt up projects but
the right equipment saves time and money in the long run.
With over 18 years experiance welding and torch cutting steel I am
comfortable with acetylene, but it is completely unforgiving and
explosive in all proportions to air or oxygen. The school where I take
night classes uses propane/oxygen and there is only mild degradation
in heating performance. Whichever gas is chosen it is best to buy
antibackflash safety valves for the tanks. These cost about $65 per
pair and are worth every penny.
Oxygen cost is about the same for one of those hardware store 1 cubic
foot oxygen tanks as for a fill for a customer owned 80 cubic foot
tank. The tank itself costs about $100, which is a pretty good deal
considering how much is saved in the long run. Unless a person welds,
casts or makes glass lampwork, they might just need a 20 cubic foot
tank which costs about the same, still a whole lot less than the same
amount of oxygen from hardware store tanks.
Regardless of setup I would suggest shopping around until one finds a
welding gas and equipment store where the customer service desk is
friendly and talkative. Then ask for professional help in setting up
and testing for leaks. There is a wide range of attitudes and one
doesn’t want to do business with a company uninterested in them as a
Peter adequately describes the basic differences of your choices.
One item I would add is that MAPP gas comes in disposable containers
as well and is quite a bit hotter. Additionally Prestolite has a
torch which is suitable for many projects, repairs and new
manufacture, which doesn’t require oxygen. It is also possible to
modify the torch tip with tubing inserts to get pin point flames,
however you also need to provide for additional combustion air. This
may be beyond your current expertise but it is an option.