The use of torches in class

 I'm still wrestling with the "powers that be" about the
ability to use a torch in class.  

Welcome Susan, Do you think they might be more willing if you
showed them the Micro torches? You could chain them to the
soldering area so they wouldn’t be portable. You wouldn’t have a
lot of tanks of scary gas around and you wouldn’t have big bushy
flames. It would limit you to small items, but it would give you
casting, and soldering skill.

kathi parker
MoonScape Designs

Dear Susan, What kind of a classroom do you have? Adequate
ventilation? A fire extinguisher/alarm? A suitable surface to
solder on? Cinder block walls? Plaster ones could be covered
with fire resistant material. I’ve been a student and then
teacher for many years and have seen all kinds of classes use
acetylene safely in a variety of situations. The worst thing
that ever happened was minor burns when someone picked up a
soldering screen that was still hot. That was after the torch
was off! Do the powers that be have specific concerns or is it a
sort of free floating anxiety about such a “scary” tool? Good
luck Pat in Penna.

Susan, Talk to the Science department, if they use Bunsen
burners you have a president, also the metal Shop classes
probably have or had large torches, and may be where the problem
originates, but you should ask the instructor. If Natural gas is
available use it, safer, no portability, and no on site storage.
You should use natural gas with oxygen, suggest parallels to
medical uses, although for casting compressed air would work
(requires a special torch).


    What kind of a classroom do you have? Adequate ventilation?

Large one, windows high up in the walls with vents that blow
toward the windows. A fire extinguisher. Absolutely yes! A
suitable surface to solder on? We’re working on that. I just
have regular counter tops but have ordered fire brick. Cinder
block walls? Yep! I’ve never had any trouble with the prestolite
torch. They are somewhat assured by the fact that the torch
uses atmosphere rather than oxy. They seem the most worried
about a little cart to lock the cannister onto. Then they want
an upright locking cabinet to put the little cart and cannister
into. I’m wondering if I can tap into the natural gas system at
the school and then just use a compressor.

Do the powers that be have specific concerns or is it a sort of
free floating anxiety about such a “scary” tool?

The administration at our school isn’t really scared. The
science teacher that is the “safety” officer is having a cow.
She called risk management in and sicced them on me. He came by
and wasn’t too freaked out.

First things first, I’ll get my little cart, and go from there.

Thanks for your reply!


Hi Susan

I use disposable map-gas cylinders with a flexible hose for the
beginning silver fabrication classes I teach. Never had a mishap
in 5 years, and the map-gas (combination of propane and
acetylene) is both inexpensive and burns plenty hot for this kind
of work. No bulky high pressure tanks and no oxygen tanks.
They’re made by Benzomatic, I think and cost around $35 plus $5
for the cylinder. Many people use this kind of torch around the
house. It’s really no more dangerous than a BBQ; each is safe
when handled properly.

Tom Tietze, The Artisan Workshop
Jewelry Creations and School, Fresno CA

Thanks for your reply. That was the first torch that I bought
for myself. My problem with the map gas is that it is very
dirty, lots of particulate matter in the air, and I tended to
run out of oxy real fast. Have you had the same issues? Maybe
I was doing something wrong… that’s certainly a possibility.

Thanks again!
Susan E. in Dallas

You mentioned using mapp gas. I currently use propane with the
benzomatic mini torch. Could you tell me if I could use the
same flex hose and tip on the mapp gas or would I need to get a
different one. I find at the moment that on certain pieces I
can’t get it hot enough with just propane. Any info would be

Thank you, Carole Wilkinson, email: @caroleew

Hi Carolee and also Susan

Some torches for disposable cylinders are made for propane only,
but it sounds like yours may be the one I use. I just looked at
one of mine. It says Benzomatic model JT 3-7 on the handle and
also says propane as well as Mapp gas right on the handle. I
would suggest that you take your torch to a Benzomatic dealer if
it doesn’t state this on the torch. Could be
dangerous to use Mapp gas with a propane only torch. Yes Mapp gas
burns much hotter than propane. Propane and air can be on the
cool side for many projects.

Tom Tietze-Artisan Workshop

Hi Susan

Actually the torch I use works on the Mapp gas and air, with no
oxygen tank. Yes it’s dirtier than soldering with propane &
oxygen or natural gas and oxygen, but works just fine for general
class use. I would think that Mapp gas and oxygen might be a
little hot for basic silver work, at least for beginners. I’ve
tried the 2 tank disposable propane and oxygen systems, at one
point buying 4 or 5 for my little school and found that the
oxygen tanks were sometimes empty after just one night! In my
opinion that’s money thrown away. The Mapp gas and air torches I
use now last a long time, as long as 5 or 6 eight session silver
fabrication classes and that with the torches shared by 2-3
people. Thus I’m willing to put up with the dirtyness of the
flame for the sake of the cost efficiency and safety factor over
compressed gas systems. If you want further info I can find out
the exact model # of the torch for you. It’s available with a
broad flame (I use this one in the class) but there’s also a
pencil flame version, which I bet could be used for gold and
delicate soldering projects.

Hope this helps you,
Tom Tietze, The Artisan Workshop
Jewelry Creations & School, Fresno CA

   The Mapp gas and air torches I use now last a long time, as
long as 5 or 6 eight session silver fabrication classes and
that with the torches shared by 2-3 people.  

HI! I’m wondering if your air mix torches are the same as the
ones sold for propane? My class now uses propane, but I would
like to switch them to acetylene or maybe even MAPP if we don’t
have to invest in new torches.

Thanks for the info (in advance!) Regards . . .

Hi Some Disposable cylinder gas & air torches can be used with
either propane or Mapp gas- check with your dealer or the
manufacturer. It is my understanding that acetylene is hotter,
and burns dirtier than Mapp gas. Mapp gas, being a mix of propane
and acetylene is between the two in temperature and cleanness.
I’ve tried soldering silver with propane and air, and though it
does work, it’s cumbersome. I use a tripod with steelscreen to
heat the silver from below, and because of the heat sinking
characteristics of the steel, the hotter Mapp gas is almost
necessary to get a good solder. Mapp gas costs more than propane,
but if I can complete a solder in 2 minutes instead of 5, I’d
think it may even be more cost effective.

Tom Tietze, The Artisan Workshop
Jewelry Creations and School