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Trick to lighting oxy/acetylene

Good Afternoon,

is there a trick to lighting oxy/acetylene and eliminating the messy
black soot? I’m thinking of switching to straight Acetylene ande
atmospheric air to get away from the mess?

Thanks for your help

is there a trick to lighting oxy/acetylene and eliminating the
messy black soot? I'm thinking of switching to straight Acetylene
ande atmospheric air to get away from the mess? 

Takes a little practice. But open the acetylene valve just enough to
light, and then also barely crack open the oxygen valve. Done right,
it lights to a flame with enough oxygen already there so it’s not
sooty. Done wrong, you get a nice loud bang… The trick is just a
tad of oxygen. Almost none beyond opening the oxy valve enough so
it’s no longer stuck/closed tight. Then, if it’s still too yellow and
sooty, the valve will at least be quick to open further.

The other method is to have the acetylene valve open enough so it’s
a pretty fast flame that ignites, even if only acetylene. On some
torches/tips, that results in a yellow flame, but one which drags in
enough air along it’s way so you don’t get much soot. Doesn’t always
work with all torches, though.


is there a trick to lighting oxy/acetylene and eliminating the
messy black soot? I'm thinking of switching to straight Acetylene
ande atmospheric air to get away from the mess? 

Open oxygen first slightly, and then add acetylene, and then ignite.
If mixture is correct you should here a pop and see a bright blue
tip. If you hear just pop and no flame, it means that not enough
acetylene, so just add a bit. After short practice you’ll know
what is required.

The pop is actually a micro explosion, so do not open either of
gases too wide.

Leonid Surpin


Yes, there is a trick to lighting acetylene. My mentor would not
allow me to learn to solder until I could light the torch without the
’parachutes’ as we called them. I had to sit there for a solid week
until I could do it. PRACTICE is the answer. You just ‘tweak’ both
knobs ‘equally’, just a hair from the off position. The trick is
’equally’. You have to hold your mouth just right :slight_smile:

If you are going to switch to anything, switch to The Little Torch
and either propane or natural gas. Both are easier to work with, have
less fire scale and no parachutes. They will both solder small and
medium silver pieces. If you do mostly large silver things I guess
you need to learn to light the acetylene.

Have fun,
J. Rose

Jerry, we mostly use the Smith acetylene/air torches in our classes
but…we do have one acetylene/oxygen little torch for special
projects. I teach my students to first open the O2 valve
slightly…just slightly and then open the gas. When you light it
there might be a slight pop but there will be no parachutes of soot
flying around.,

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine Jewelry!

is there a trick to lighting oxy/acetylene and eliminating the
messy black soot? 


Trying to introduce a small amount of oxygen to the torch when you
light it will help. just remember that a high amount of oxygen will
make ingition more difficult and a hotter flame at time of ingition,
which sometimes could surpise. the best way to develop your
technique is… practice. pretty much like everything else in the

tim the inexperienced! at least in most things.


I have a copyright 1975 copy of "The Oxy-Acetylene Handbook"
published by Linde, a division of Union Carbide that used to be the
big name in Acetylene. It uses the old term “blowpipe.” This book
gives the following instructions:

  In general, the procedure following in lighting a blowpipe is
  first to open the blowpipe oxygen valve a small amount and the
  blowpipe acetylene valve either fully or somewhat more than the
  oxygen valve, depending on the type of blowpipe. The mixture of
  oxygen issuing from the blowpipe tip or nozzle is then lighted
  by means of a friction lighter, or stationary pilot flame.
  "After checking the acetylene pressure adjustment, the
  oxy-acetylene flame can be adjusted so as to have the desired
  characteristics for the work at hand by further manipulating
  the oxygen and acetylene values, according to the
  manufacturer's directions for the particular type of
  blowpipe." Further on: "When welding or cutting is to be
  stopped close the blowpipe acetylene valve, then the blowpipe
  oxygen valve.

The illustrations accompanying the above statements show typical
oxy-acetylene welding torch handles such as those sold by Smith.
Smith torches sold for jewelry work look very similar to welding
torch handles except that they are slightly smaller in size. They
function the same way, however.

I have quoted the above in detail because most silversmithing
instructors say to turn the acetylene on first and off last. I have
never heard these instructions as it always produces the clouds of
soot that you mention.

I would be interested whether anyone on this list has some
"authoritative" reason for reversing the procedure or are these
simply “old wives tales” with no basis in logic.

I generally use air-gas torches for silversmithing and reserve my
oxygen-acetylene for gold work. I think air-gas torches are more
forgiving and easier to control, particularly on silver where you
generally need to heat up the entire object rather than just the
joint being soldered. I realize that some experienced gold and silver
smiths use oxy-acetylene for all their work but a beginner my find
the air-gas torches easier to use on silver.

Hope this helps:


Fred R. Sias
Woodsmere Press, LLC

Gerry, I don’t light my torch much these days as I’m TIG welding most
everything, but this is how I light an acetylene torch. First I open
the oxygen valve enough to create a 1" flame. You will need to get to
know your torch to determine how much to open your torch valve.
Secondly, I point the gas stream through my electric (battery
powered) igniter. Finally, I open the acetylene valve until I create
a flame. I often have to immediately adjust the two valves because
the acetylene grows to a larger volume than the oxygen. The only
variation in this technique from other Orchid posts I’ve read, is
that I open the acetylene while the gas is streaming over a spark. I
do hate it when those tiny black soot snakes floating around in the
air above me!

Regards, Kevin
Kevin Lindsey


This may be slightly unconventional, but you can easily get rid of
the soot by opening your torch handpiece to release a VERY small
amount of oxygen first (just enough to hear the hiss), then open
your acetylene and light as usual. Be awaRe: you MUST have more
acetylene than oxygen coming out of your torch tip, otherwise you
will get a loud “pop” (in some cases a VERY loud “pop”) and no
flame. If you accidentally get this pop, immediately close the
valves on your handpiece (oxygen first, then acetylene), regain your
composure, and try again. Once you get your torch lit, adjust gas
levels as needed to achieve the appropriate flame.

When shutting off your handpiece, ALWAYS shut off your oxygen first,
then rapidly close off your acetylene to avoid releasing excessive