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Striker verses lighter when lighting a torch


#1

Hello, I am looking for some info about lighting a torch. I
currently have a new assistant and need to impress upon him the
importance of using a striker to light a torch instead of a lighter
out side of the safety issues can anyone else give me some physical
reasons for not doing this? I was always under the impression that
this was a dangerous practice. Thanks for any additional information
anyone can give me on this subject. Kathy.


#2

I use a striker because it is faster, easier to not misplace, and
they last and last and last. (refills too) As far as one being better
than the other? I’ll see if I can get some government funding to do
a study on it…Please be patient, it’s an election year and these
studies can drag on for years…


#3

I have found that I light a candle and leave it on my soldering
table. When I want to start the torch a quick pass over the lit
candle works great.


#4

Here is a quote from the Jewelry Workshop Safety Report:

Note: Many goldsmiths use a disposable cigarette lighter to light
their torches. Doing this can be incredibly dangerous. A standard
disposable lighter has the same explosive power as a grenade and can
easily take a leg off. Welders are forbidden to have them in their
pockets while working because of amputating explosions that have
apparently been seen in the welding and brazing industry. Empty or
almost empty disposable lighters are particularly dangerous. I have
heard of one that blew up on someone’s car dash when left in the sun
as well as of one that blew up on a jeweler’s bench when brushed
accidentally with a torch flame. Because the design is, however, very
useful and easy to strike a spark with you can consider using one if
like I do, you take an empty one, saw the bottom off or drill into it
to remove any fuel vapors and then use it quite happily as a striker
for a torch. A comment I have heard (and seen, come to think of it)
is that beginners need special attention given them as they have a
tendency to wave the flame about wildly without thinking of where it
is pointing (Gayle Morris, 1/25/97, Orchid List, “Re: First piece?
Teaching”).

best
Charles

Charles Lewton-Brain/Brain Press
Box 1624, Ste M, Calgary, Alberta, T2P 2L7, Canada
Tel: 403-263-3955 Fax: 403-283-9053 Email: @Charles_Lewton-Brai1


#5

Karhy, I should think the safety aspect should itself be quite
sufficient! In one of the classes I attend. One woman kept bringing
in cutane cigarette lighters, and she would leave one lying on the
table. One day a man came in, lit his torch with the striker, and
happened to point it in the general direction of the lighter. He said
the torch was at least 2 feet away from the lighter. There was a big
"POOF" as it exploded. He would be blind today if he had not been
wearing glasses!

Margaret


#6

He’s not to do it because you say so, for one. For another, he’ll
be out of a job if he either:

-blows up the show
-kills himself
-kills you
-blows off a limb or two and can't work for a long time.

Everyone should own Charles Lewton Brains book the Jewelry Workshop
Safety Report.

I quote that book here, page 181:

“Note: Many goldsmiths use a disposable cigarette lighter to light
their torches. This is can be incredibly dangerous. A standard
disposable lighter has the same explosive power as a grenade and can
easily take a leg off. Welders are forbidden to have them in their
pockets while working because of amputating explosions that have
apparently been seen in the welding and brazing industry. Empty or
almost empty disposable lighters are particularly dangerous. I have
heard of one that blew up on someone’s car dash when left in the sun
as well as one that blew up on a jeweler’s bench when brushed
accidentally with a torch flame. Because the design of the lighter
is, however, very useful and easy to strike a spark with, you can
consider using one if, like I do, you take an empty one, saw the
bottom off or drill into it to remove any fuel vapors and then use
it quite happily as a striker for a torch.”

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Studio 925; established 1992
@E_Luther


#7

Hi Kathy

There may be a multitude of reasons but the one I have heard that
you should not use a lighter because it has its own little source of
fuel and you don’t want to ignite it. But I have heard this mostly
from welders, because of the large amount of heat generated by
welding. I had a friend who was apprenticing as a pipefitter in a
pulp mill, but who is also trained as a EMT. He had to deal with a
welder who had a disposable plastic lighter melt and start to burn in
his pocket as he was welding (because of the heat) but not because he
had lit the torch with the lighter. The practice in the mill was if
you carried a lighter it should be a zippo, because the fuel is not
in a sealed container and if the metal case gets hot, you will
notice!

If your assistant is more comfortable with the motion of flicking a
lighter rather than squeezing a striker, there is a compromise. Use
a Zippo without fuel or get a disposable lighter, hold the little tab
down to let the fuel escape (obviously in a place where it can
dissipate without a problem, like outside) and then for added safety
cut off the bottom of the plastic part. A transparent lighter is
better because you know when all the fuel is gone. Oh and take off
the metal guard around striker part. Or hit up the few remaining
smokers you might know for old lighters, but the lighters may not
have a lot of flint left.

Hope that helps
Brigid Ryder


#8

I have found that I light a candle and leave it on my soldering
table. When I want to start the torch a quick pass over the lit
candle works great.

I use an alcohol lamp. It was too hot when reaching over it to grab
a tool behind it. So I built a heat sheild…a small sheet metal
awning that extends out from the tool rack behind the lamp. I used
soft soldering pad to build it by the same theory as triple wall
insultated stovepipe. A layer of metal, a layer of insulating
solder pad and a layer of metal, repeat three times. The metal
spreads the heat, the insulation slows conduction down then the air
carries it off. I cut the pattern from sheet brass, leaving some
tabs to bend over the insulation to hold it in place. and some
longer tabs to bend at 90 degrees to use as “legs” to attach to the
next layer.

Every situation is different, so you will need to use a little
imagination. The top layer should be cool to the touch. The top
layer is left long to attach to the shelf. To be sure not to heat
up the shelf, I used a layer of solderite under the sheet metal
where I screwed it to the shelf.

The arrangement is simple but hard to describe. However, if the
idea interests you, hopefully it is enough to get your imagination
going.

Howard Woods
Eagle Idaho


#9

On a related note: My butane torch has piezo ignition and it’s
great. Are there stand-alone piezo ignitors? I’d keep one next to
the gas stove.

Janet


#10

I purchased a great ignitor from Rio. The Automatic Torch Ignitor on
page 362 of the 2004 tools catalog # 503-048 for $26.95 It uses 2-AA
batteries and has an on/off switch. Once it’s turned on you simply
touch the torch tip to one of the four buttons on the top and sparks
from the center point ignite the gas. Most importantly it’s a one
hand operation that eliminates the stress to your knuckles. I love it!

Pam in sunny, but chilly, Newburyport, MA


#11

In our lab at school we don’t allow ANYTHING flammable near the
soldering bench – this includes anything containing a flammable
liquid, like a lighter. Alcohol dips are done away from the bench
and the denatured alcohol/boric acid mix is stored away from the
bench as well. The reasons for this rule should be obvious – safety.
I’ve certainly carried this practice into all of the other studios I
work in, as it’s just common sense.

If your assistant has trouble with strikers (many folks do), there
are a couple of things that might help.

  1. For people without sufficient grip strength or dexterity to get
    a good spark from a striker, they can try propping the striker
    against the tabletop of the soldering bench, then using their arm
    strength to push it down to generate the spark. Much easier and once
    they try it, it’s usually enough.

  2. For folks who still want or need something easier, consider
    getting an automatic torch lighter. They cost about $25 and are
    battery operated. You touch the metal body of the torch to the metal
    plate on the lighter (with the gas on) and a battery-generated spark
    lights it for you. I’ve often thought it would be great to have one
    of those puppies, especially when soldering intricate multi-jump-ring
    constructions where I’m constantly lighting the torch, but haven’t
    yet gotten off my duff to get one.

Karen Goeller
@Karen_Goeller
Hand-crafted artisan jewelry


#12

Hi Kathy, I find that the best way to light a torch is to use one of
the batter y powered arc generators. Just place the tip of the torch
on the switch pad . An arc is created which lights the torch. The
device costs around $24. Us ing this device allows me to have
something in my other hand such as tongs or pi ck while lighting the
torch.

I am on my second one in 10 years.

I found one in a welding store. I was different from the one jewelry
suppliers sell.

I would not be without one.

Stay away from disposable cigarette lighters unless you remove all
the fuel first. There has been ample posts on that dangers of using
one.

Lee Epperson


#13

Hi Gang, There’s at least one other way to light your torch at the
bench. There are electronic igniters available that use AA batteries
to power a device that generates a spark when the torch tip is press
on it. The torch tip is automatically placed in the vicinity of the
spark & the torch is easily ignited.

Most jewelry suppliers have on or both models. They cost about $25.
I’ve had one sitting on my bench for almost 10 yrs., wouldn’t be
without it. One of the nice things about this type of igniter, is
you stay clear of the flame.

Dave


#14

I use a tabletop torch lighter from Rio.Cost $27. I mounted it
sidways under bench edge on leg with a large hose clamp[(drilled into
leg and screwed on)Still haven’t replaced battery, for like 5 years!
Just tap with torch and I’m lit.

Thomas


#15

Striker vs. Lighter & Hydrogen Heat Limit:

Hello all: Striker vs. Lighter when lighting a torch: There are two
primary reasons a common pressurized fuel lighter should not b e
used. First, it is a poor safety concept to hold a pressurized
container o f fuel (no matter how small) which can leak near intense
heat. We have seen examples of inexpensive cigarette lighters
igniting and then sticking to an object such as clothes or a hand.
The second, even more common problem is a lighter will be placed on
the workbench near where the torch flame will pass , or radiant heat
from the torch will be. The plastic softens or is pierced and the
fuel in the lighter ignites. The plastic casing melts and sticks
to whatever it comes in contact with. Very Exciting! An older
style Zippo lighter without pressurized fuel is much safer, if a
lighter must be used. Our firm, and most jewelry tool supply firms
have a much better alternative. A n inexpensive spark igniter which
creates a series of sparks when the torch he ad is placed on a switch
(ours is $20.00) runs off 2 AA batteries and lasts for ma ny years.
It is much easier and safer to use than a lighter. Buy one for each
torch, explain to each person and the issue is resolved.

Hydrogen Heat Limit: This is an interesting subject which our firm
works with daily, world wide. The answer is effected by many
things. The highest temperature a t wo part hydrogen one part
oxygen flame produces is 3,300 degrees C or 5972 degr ees F.
Hydrogen/oxygen generators then run this gas through different sorts
of booster tanks or systems. The booster fluid can be a number of
different chemicals which alter the flame profile and change the
actual temperature. As an example, most platinum and gold work is
done using Methanol as the booste r fluid producing a temperature of
2,700 degrees C or 4,892 degrees F and produces a precise blue flame
with only axial heat (heat in front not on the sides). If you were
doing large silver work, such as a tea service and wanted a cooler
softer “bushier” you could use Acetone which would provide a much
wid er flame similar in configuration to natural gas, but cleaner and
safer. This flame would be considerably cooler at 1,500 degrees C
or 2,732 degrees F. There is an extensive number of booster fluid
options which produce an excellent range of temperatures. The other
part of this equation is gas volume and control. There are
different types of “water welders,” single cell and multicell. A
single ce ll unit is limited (by physics) in the amount of gas which
it can produce, and control. You could not do hollowware (small
teapot) raising (anneal) a she et, soldering the handle, spout, feet
with a single cell generator. With a multicell generator not only
very small precise work can be done, but hollow ware manufacturing
is not too difficult, and we have a number of customers doing exactly
this, for many years. In those hollowware applications some of it
"plated ware," such as decorative rims onto trays, then the feet to
tray, th e soldering is even automated. (shameless plug coming)
Our firm Spirig, manufacturers a (fully patented) multicell
generator, the Spirflame, with a good number of customers in the
metalsmithing and jewelry industry, world wide. Please feel free to
contact me directly if we can offer any additional in this
area. Sincerely, Gary Miller


#16

Facts? Another urban legend? What gives here? A google search of
"exploding Bic lighters" reveals that a lot has been written on this
subject.

First we find an urban legends page.
http://www.snopes.com/horrors/techno/lighters.htm

Next, we find someone that tried to make a couple of them explode.
http://users.frii.com/dnorris/lighter.html

Next is a Canadian newspaper account from 1987, that attempts to
document the history of claims against Bic. The writer cites three
cases. Two were settled out of court. The third was won by the
plaintiff. If I read it right, that woman put a burning lighter in
her pocket and it later burst into flames. According to the writer,
there were 200 complaints lodged in Consumer and Corporate Affairs
and there had been over 50,000,000 disposable lighters sold in Canada
in 1986. It might be noted that nothing of consequence can be
discovered of the three cases mentioned during another Google search.
http://www.cbc.ca/consumers/market/mp30/exploding_bics.html

The next link talks of Bic plant closings in the USA and provides a
link to a book by John Stossel. For more on that link skip to the
next. http://gov.surfwax.com/files/Business_Information_Center.html

Here is an interesting piece from a writer that likes to debunk junk
science. John Stossel is selling a book here, and I quote " I’ve
gotten good at fighting off the TV producers who want to do stories
on say, exploding Bic lighters. I refer them to the "death list"
posted on my office wall. It lists what kills people in America, and
helps me point out that hot tap water and plastic bags are deadlier
than what probably alarmed the producer: More Americans drown in
toilets than are killed by Bic lighters. Since few producers want to
do stories on toilets or plastic bags, the story usually goes away.
http://www.acsh.org/press/editorials/anniversary120403.html

There are more links. Try them.

Although I currently use a striker, in the years that I smoked, I had
a lighter in close proximity most of that time. I never had an
accident with it.

I can’t say the same of a mix of boric acid and alcohol. I suffered
some pretty severe burns when I spilled it on myself while trying to
extinguish a single drop that was burning on the webbing of my hand.
That’s in the archives. Nothing unscientific about that. I
experienced that personally.

bruce


#17
    . . . .consider getting an automatic torch lighter.  They cost
about $25 and are battery operated.  You touch the metal body of
the torch to the metal plate on the lighter (with the gas on) and
a battery-generated spark lights it for you.  I've often thought it
would be great to have one of those puppies, especially when
soldering intricate multi-jump-ring constructions where I'm
constantly lighting the torch, but haven't yet gotten off my duff
to get one. 

Don’t know how long after I knew about these that I sat on my duff
– too long for sure! Get it now. You’ll be glad you did! Makes
life simpler and “torching” more fun. I paid a bit more than list for
mine but I got it at an Orchid silent auction! Good deal coming and
going! :slight_smile:

Pam Chott
www.songofthephoenix.com


#18

Hydrogen Heat Limit

Hydrogen Heat Limit: This is an interesting subject which our firm
works with daily, world wide. The answer is effected by many
things. The highest temperature a two part hydrogen one part oxygen
flame produces is 3,300 degrees C or 5972 degrees F.
Hydrogen/oxygen generators then run this gas through different sorts
of booster tanks or systems. The booster fluid can be a number of
different chemicals which alter the flame profile and change the
actual temperature. As an example, most platinum and gold work is
done using Methanol as the booster fluid producing a temperature of
2,700 degrees C or 4,892 degrees F and produces a precise blue flame
with only axial heat (heat in front not on the sides). If you were
doing large silver work, such as a tea service and wanted a cooler
softer “bushier” you could use Acetone which would provide a much
wider flame similar in configuration to natural gas, but cleaner and
safer. This flame would be considerably cooler at 1,500 degrees C
or 2,732 degrees F. There is an extensive number of booster fluid
options which produce an excellent range of temperatures.

The other part of this equation is gas volume and control. There
are different types of “water welders,” single cell and multicell.
A single cell unit is limited (by physics) in the amount of gas
which it can produce, and control. You could not do hollowware
(small teapot) raising (anneal) a sheet, soldering the handle,
spout, feet with a single cell generator. With a multicell
generator not only very small precise work can be done, but
hollowware manufacturing is not too difficult, and we have a number
of customers doing exactly this, for many years. In those
hollowware applications some of it “plated ware,” such as decorative
rims onto trays, then the feet to tray, the soldering is even
automated. (shameless plug coming) Our firm Spirig, manufacturers a
(fully patented) multicell generator, the Spirflame=AE, with a good
number of customers in the metalsmithing and jewelry industry, world
wide. Please feel free to contact me directly if we can offer any
additional in this area. Sincerely, Gary Miller

Gary W. Miller Sr. Technical Advisor Spirig Advanced Technologies
Technical Division 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 Web site:
www.spirig.com


#19
    On a related note: My butane torch has piezo ignition and it's
great. Are there stand-alone piezo ignitors? I'd keep one next to
the gas stove. 

Janet Yes; you can get them from Rio Grande, for instance.

Margaret


#20
    Are there stand-alone piezo ignitors? 

I use a piezo ignitor which at one time was used to light my
barbecue. Whatever fuel (butane) it once contained has been consumed
and now serves only to generate a spark. These are quite inexpensive
and the fuel can be drained out if bought new and used only for
igniting your torch. J. Dule