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Torch for Reticulation

Alan and anyone else who does reticulation

Which torch do you prefer to do Reticulation. I have a Little Torch,
which I love for soldering. I don’t and won’t be doing any casting
in my studio, ever. So that isn’t a consideration.

So in this thread, I am only concerned with Reticulation.

As I work in a bedroom, off the living room of my house, I haven’t
bought an Acetylene system.

So for the next year or so I am using Propane/Oxygen and the Little


if you buy 80/20 stock either torch you speak of will work. It is
also available already reticulated in different grades of texture
(coarse,fine) if you are that concerned about your space…C.L.Brain
has an explanation of the process in the Ganoksin archives.there you
will find a bit about using your torches to accomplish


Earlier this spring, I did a wonderful reticulation workshop with
Harold O’Conor. He used a torch I was previously unfamiliar with (The
EZ-Torch) and got gorgeous results. It’s propane/air and can run off
of a disposable tank or a refillable one. The torch head looks a
little like a garden hose nozzle and it has 3 or 4 tip sizes. The
only place I’ve found it is and it’s $89 (complete).

According to Harold, the key to reticulation is to use a very hot,
very pinpoint flame. Propane is ideal for this for silver and doesn’t
have some of the oxidation issues that acetylene has. Without adding
oxy to the mix, you can’t get the flame as intense and pinpoint as
you need with acetylene.

Having said that, I’ve done some nice reticulation of silver with
acetylene… just not with the level of control that Harold gets
with the pinpoint propane flame.

In terms of your studio being in your home, acetylene is generally
considered a much safer choice for indoor use and in many areas is
the only gas that would be allowed by fire code (and your insurance
company). You may want to double-check the fire marshal in your area
and with your insurance company on that issue, just to be on the safe

The reason for that is that acetylene is lighter than air. In case
of a leak, it floats up, then dissipates. Propane, on the other hand,
is heavier than air. A propane leak “puddles” near the floor (where
you can’t smell it as easily) and doesn’t dissipate, leading to
potential explosive flashover if an ignition source comes into
contact with it.

Now, does that mean that we don’t use propane indoors? No! But it
does mean that it’s generally either piped in from an external
holding tank (best practice) or used in a small disposable tank that
limits the potential for disaster. The “bbq grill” tanks are
definitely kept outside!

Hope this helps!

Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry


Thank you to you and Harold O’Connor to come up with a different

This was just the kind of reply I was looking for. I bought the same
type of torch you describe from Otto Frei last year, but haven’t used
it for reticulation. I bought this torch for it’s portability. I take
classes at Mendocino Art Center and sometimes want to solder at my
bench or do light work at art festivals.

I had the same oxidation experience with Acetylene, but with Asthma
and my local volunteer fire department and my house being over 160
years old, I didn’t want to take a chance with Acetylene. Though, I
do realize the benefits of both gases. My water heater is outside
and I only use my torch when conditions are right. At some point I
want to get an Acetylene set up.

I don’t use barbecue propane tanks in the house. My tanks are smaller
and my studio has a lot of ventilation.

When we build a separate studio from our house, I will be able to
have the propane piped in from outside. I am so looking forward to
building a studio. When people come to my studio they have to come
into the house to get to my studio. If they come in groups of 4 to 6,
I have to leave because of lack of space. Often time we take the
jewelry outside, but that causes other judicious problems.

I appreciate all of the I have received on this subject.


As I work in a bedroom, off the living room of my house, I haven't
bought an Acetylene syste 

Acetylene is safer because it is lighter than air. Propane sinks
into a puddle. If you use an acetylene/air torch, you do not get the
black soot floating around.


Hi Marilyn,

Acetylene is safer because it is lighter than air. Propane sinks
into a puddle. If you use an acetylene/air torch, you do not get
the black soot floating around. 

Not picking on you, but this is a pet peeve. Choosing a fuel gas
based on its density as a “safety” issue is just wrong. All fuel
gasses are terribly dangerous if there is a leak, all of them. You
must be constantly proactive in your safety practices like leak
testing your torch, hose, and tank fittings and valves every time
you connect them, inspect the hoses regularly and properly shutting
down and starting up your torch system. Otherwise your just asking
for a disaster. This is especially true for those that have a studio
in a residence. You cannot rely on a lighter gas rising to save you
from a leak. The location of the studio (basement, top floor etc) air
currents, location and operating status of ventilation, air-
conditioning and heating equipment and many other factors play into
what happens to the gas when you have a leak.


James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


Acetylene is safer because it is lighter than air. Propane sinks
into a puddle. If you use an acetylene/air torch, you do not get
the black soot floating around. 

This is also a pet peeve of mine: i.e., unless you have the
experience to draw upon don’t give advise. Please say “I have heard”,
or “I have read”; but please qualify your statement.

James Binnion has a wealth of experience through study and first
person experience for those of you who don’t already know that. There
are also others who post who obviously know of what they post. For
those who are new don’t believe all you read. There are “newbies”,
lots of them reading these posts. So unless you’re sure of what you
post perhaps it’s better you don’t.


If you are getting black soot in quantitiy, then your inner flame
length is not correct as when the torch is lit for a moment it may
soot (if the orifices have not been cleaned in particular) but as
soon as the O2 is added there should not be any lampblack to bee
seen. Acetylene is by nature an oily fuel as dissolved in tanks, but
it can be made to burn somewhat cleaner, by ensuring that the O2 is
correctly mixed and that all the filters, and orifices are regularly
( if you use the torch daily, then by regularly I mean weekly, if
less then monthly should be adequate unless you have never done it
whatsoever, then it may take a few weeks of cleanings to straighten
out the lampblack effusion) cleaned. Additionally some torches have
no filters internally. Check your owners manual or manufacturers
website to see if your torch has filters that are replaceable and if
so then order a quantity and store them dry and cool to avoid
breakdown of the fibers or rotting thereof ( some filters were
fiberglass, some cotton, both of which were adversely affected by
humid areas, and overheated ones as well…like garages, or basements
that have seepage issues. Now filters are made with more complex
fibers that withstand more abuse in extremes than old style filters
did… A note here* should you buy a used torch do open the shaft to
see if there are filters inside and search the manufacturers name, as
there have been a score of buyouts, mergers and acquisitions and
other financially motivated reasons that a particular torch may not
have readily available, or rather, easily obtainable parts under the
original name (Swest comes to mind, -absorbed by Stuller, Frei &
Borel, became Otto Frei, Purox was bought by Goss, etc. though parts
are available from Centricut and a number of welding
suppliers)…point is: all lampblack can be minimized and in most
places there are different grades of acetylene. Always opt for the
purified grades as the other commercial grades produce in addition to
ammonia -related compounds, in addition to sulfate respiring
bacterial production ( prevalent in closed spaces, and detectable by
leaving a piece of bread in apolyethylene bag, if pink and yellow
auricular molds grow rapidly in the presence of your acetyelene torch
then good chance you have a contaminated cylinder/tank, or it’s time
to replace your hoses, or hoses and fittings… I am far from an
alarmist when it comes to trendy health issues and falsely
represented biohazards (like intestinal or brain parasites being a
rampant problem in carnivorous human diets…or that one’s studio is a
breeding ground for certain strains of bacteria that live off the
by-products of burning acetylene…Please!If there were truth in those
two examples alone most of the planet would be dead from infestation,
and jewelers, constantly ill with upper respiratory diseases… ).
The hose grade also has some relevance in the production of
lampblack, so be cartain you are using a R, RM or T gradde and not
simply tubing some people that were used to old style
calcium-carbide and gasoline

If anyone wants to check into the microbiological implications of
using acetylene the PubMed Central has many articles, on that and
other topics relative to jewelry making chemicals, practises, and
health (

Please say "I have heard", or "I have read"; but please qualify
your statement. 

Mark Twain said “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you in
trouble, it’s what you know for certain that just ain’t so” (or
words to that effect)… or so I’ve read ;>)


There are "newbies", lots of them reading these posts. So unless
you're sure of what you post perhaps it's better you don't. 

Statements similar to the above appear in Orchid from time to time.
They create a perceived division between the ‘big dogs’ who have been
there and done that, and ‘newbies’ who may blunder within snapping

To all you newbies out there; post your ideas on orchid without fear
and rest assured that the big dogs will correct any misconceptions
and incorrect beliefs you may display. Do not be intimidated by the
few who get snappy when they have to do this. To display a ‘common
misconception’ is to provide a means for revealing the ‘most correct
conception’. To deny or deride a common misconception is to stifle
it’s reverse. The naivette and the freshness of newbies is a valuable
resourse and you newbies have an advantage whereby ignorance of the
impossible can lead to making the impossible possible.

Is Orchid merely a repository of questions followed by correct
answers, or is it a living organism where ideas can be discussed