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Ultra Violet Vision Protection for Silver Soldering?


When doing silver soldering/fabrication with an oxy/acetylene or
oxy/propane torch are shaded glasses necessary for ultra violet

My only experience is with a prestolite torch about 10 years ago in
a classroom setting and I don=92t remember wearing vision protection a=
that time.

If it is necessary, what do you recommend?

San Diego

When doing silver soldering/fabrication with an oxy/acetylene or
oxy/propane torch are shaded glasses necessary for ultra violet

Hi Steve, I struggled with this question, and even bounced it around
here before. Some people seem to feel you don’t need the UV
protection with the smallish torches jewelers use, unless doing
platinum. I wasn’t comfortable with that answer… my vision is very
important to me. The UV protection isn’t in the tint. It’s apparently
a coating, or possibly a component in the lens material, which is
actually clear. It was also suggested that an eyeglass manufacturer
can make UV glasses with no tint or correction, or possibly apply a
coating to existing glasses.

Finally my wife found some untinted Gargoyle™ glasses with UV
protection. In general, Gargoyles are usually sold as designer
sunglasses, especially for the sport/athletic types. For some reason
they make them untinted, as well. They wrap around the sides a bit,
which is good, and are engineered to have minimal distortion. I can
attest to their effectiveness as eye protection, too! Not to mention,
they look pretty cool… unlike the dorky safety glasses I used to

I don’t know where she got the glasses, but I suspect with all the
sunglass vendors on the 'net, you could track a pair down with
minimal effort. First guess is Sunglass Hut. They may be a little
expensive for safety glasses, but considering they’re the only "tool"
I’m guaranteed to use each and every day, and the hours I spend
wearing them, it’s a worthwhile investment.

P.S. I also love the “Indian Jewelry Making” books by Oscar Branson
you mentioned. A little light on details, but very visual… which is
good for me!

All the best,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)


Steve, If using acetylene and air, you don’t need any special
protection. However, using oxy and acetylene is different, and you
DO need protection. You can go with shaded goggles (look like safety
goggles, usually green or red, with shaded lenses or a single shaded
lens) … you don’t need the big welding mask kind of thing.

The usual safety goggles for oxy/acetylene have a green tint to the
lens and is what I’d call medium darkness … not as dark as that
used for arc welding, where you can’t see anything once you put it on
until you “light the fuse.”

They are cheap and available at your local welding, plumbing, or
better hardware supply store.

Have fun!
Karen Goeller


Hello all. I can speak a little about Gargoyle™ glasses. Seems
like I got mine from REI - look in sporting and outdoor recreation
stores. Don’t know about their suitability for metalwork but they
are up to safety glasses standards. They have a lifetime guarentee.

When I could wear contact lens (unfortunately no longer the case for
some reason) I had a pair of Gargoyles for my sunglasss and I think
they were one of the best I ever had for comfort, looks, and ability
to block the sun. They did wrap around and block a lot of side light
too like Dave says.

One other thing about them. They do not change the color of stuff
like many sunglasses do - and that is important to me and the reason
I spent so much money on them. Their tint is neutral.

They are not cheap but worth every penny. Gargoyle stands behind
their product with a lifetime guarentee.

Once I sent them in under the guarentee as a lark. You see, they
were run over by a car - not your standard usage. And I even wrote
that in the letter explaining the return. Guess whay, they didn’t
care. They sent me a new pair. That’s a real lifetime guarentee.


    The usual safety goggles for oxy/acetylene have a green tint
to the lens and is what I'd call medium darkness ... not as dark as
that used for arc welding, where you can't see anything once you
put it on until you "light the fuse." They are cheap and available
at your local welding, plumbing, or better hardware supply store. 

Hi Folks The goggles and glasses that fall under the class of welding
eye protection are sold in different shades. Shade 5 should cover
most situations with respect to torch applications and is the most
common “torch” safety tint sold.

Mind you whenever one is dinking around with any kind of torch one
should have safety eyeware in place.

Gary W. Bourbonais


Now I’m really worried.

I know that platinum, when heated, radiates UV. That’s why, whatever
flame you use , you need protective glasses.

I did not know that silver did so - specifically when using

Can anyone refer me to a source with more

Tony Konrath
Gold and Stone

  Steve, If using acetylene and air, you don't need any special

It is my understanding via a welding suppler that number 3 rated
safety glass are adequate for acetylene and air.

    Now I'm really worried. I know that platinum, when heated,
radiates UV. That's why, whatever flame you use , you need
protective glasses. I did not know that silver did so -
specifically when using oxy-acetylene. Can anyone refer me  to a
source with more 

I do not believe that there is a significant amount of UV from the
relatively low temperatures involved in silver soldering however
there is plenty of infrared which bakes your eyes in just as serious
a fashion. I have a safety glasses manufacturer that we use. It is
Aura Lens at Their AUR-92 lens is great for
all metalsmithing torch work except for platinum it provides both IR
and UV protection. It has a light purple/blue tint and it is very
easy to read color with it. So you can see the glow of your work to
read temperature it also knocks down the yellow flare that you get
radiating from the flux so it is much easier to see your work. They
can provide them in prescription lenses and a good selection of
frame types. They also are very knowledgeable about torch work so if
you have a question contact them.




There is a great reference book called the Oxy-Acetylene Handbook,
which is pretty old but still very good. If you can find a copy,
it’s probably worth having on your shelf. Was originally published
by Union Carbide … I’ve seen copies of it in the library and used
bookstores, and you can probably find a copy online. It has a
section on welding non-ferrous metals and talks about the properties
of various metals.

Anyway, it was my understanding from 2 different metals professors,
from several welders I’ve learned from, and from everything I’ve
looked at online that there are several different issues with
oxy-acetylene and eye protection.

  1. The barrier effect of goggles will protect against flying
    sparks, metal, etc. (this one’s obvious) By the way, a friend and
    fellow metal worker had to go to the hospital for an MRI the other
    day. When she told them she worked with metal (even as a hobby),
    they required her to have an X-Ray of her eyes before they would do
    the MRI … apparently, this has now become standard procedure here
    in the U.S. because even tiny metal shards that may be in the eye or
    eye area and unnoticed can literally rip apart the eye or do serious
    damage due to the intense magnetic field of an MRI machine. So, if
    any of you out there need an MRI done, you might think about this
    issue and make sure they do the appropriate scans (and recent posts
    have pretty definitely indicated that we can’t just assume that none
    of the metals we work with are magnetic).

  2. The specific lenses of welding goggles protect against both the
    instense glare of the flame (which can injure the retina if looked
    at directly for a period of time) and from the UV given off when the
    combined-gas flame is in contact with various metals. For
    Oxy-Acetylene used for light cutting or sheet metal welding of mild
    steel, Shade 4 is adequate. For heaving cutting, welding plate,
    steel castings, etc. shades 5 or 6 should be used. OSHA recommends
    level 2 protection for oxy-acetylene torch soldering [Snip -Invalid
    URL] On a couple of the “ask the experts” welding sites, I’ve
    seen references to eye protection when using acetylene/air systems
    that state that a MAXIMUM shade level of 3 should be used, and that
    many people choose not to use any when working with small flames and
    small pieces, due to the extremely small level of glare and UV
    exposure (less than going outside on a sunny day). I can’t find ANY
    recommendations in OSHA regulations, medical research, etc., to
    support or debunk the requirement for air/acetylene eye protection at
    a level 3 – it’s just not mentioned anywhere I can find it.

  3. The goggles are also designed to protect the eyes from radiant
    heat from the welding process.

Having said that, I wear standard prescription eyeglasses with glass
(not plastic) lenses, which my eye doctor tells me is sufficient UV
protection (and I wear glass-lensed sunglasses when outdoors) for
acetylene/air work in the sizes I do. When I start to work with a
large tip (4 or up) and/or do casting, and when I do anything with
acetylene/OXY, I put on the dark (#4) welding goggles.

Hope this helps!

Karen Goeller

P.S. - If anyone can find more specific reference I’ll
be very
happy to have it!


I wear my dark green tinted blacksmithing goggles when I first light
my oxy acetylene torch. It is most bright in that first moment when
I am adjusting the mixture of gases. (If I didn’t wear the tinted
shades I would see nothing but white spots.) But then I switch to
my regular safety glasses to do my soldering so I can see. Should I
be wearing tinted shades for the entire soldering session? Or should
I just make sure that my un-tinted safety glasses have UV protection?

Thanks for the advice-Carrie


Hi all. This is all great on oxy/acetylene, but does any
of it hold for oxy/propane? Just wondering and thanks to all for
such a great forum!



Karen Goeller’s post was really useful and so have several others

We still seem to be operating on a hearsay basis instead of from
reputable sources.

For example - I’ve had many MRI’s and they’ve never worried about
metal particles - from what I understand the magnetic fields set up
a resonance (attract/repel) so there’s no danger of moving metallic
substances - otherwise I’d imagine everyone with dental bridges and
hip replacesments being drawn and stuck to the walls of the tunnel!
BUT I don’t know this for sure.

Likewise I can see and test the UV given off in welding - but see
none given off when I solder. What about the bright gleam when I
first turn on the torch. If UV is given off during working in silver
and gold is it dangerous at the 1-2 ft distance I watch from?

Infrared radiation is given off from cooking stoves and log fires.
Should we all be wearing tinted lenses to cook, barbequee and toast
our feet at the fireplace. What amounts of radiation? How dangerous?
What risk?

I hate working with “Industrial Myths.” - (our equivalent of urban
myths") I need to know!

Tony Konrath Gold and Stone


Hi, Tony- I also hate dealing with urban legends, but–

The issue of MRIs and metallic fragments or implants is neither
hearsay nor urban legend.

You can reference the FDA safety guidelines for MRIs at

The magnetic fields of an MRI are so powerful that any ferrous metal
object left in the MRI room can become a lethal projectile when the
MRI is activated. In one case, a 6-year-old boy was killed when an
oxygen tank accidentally left in the MRI room flew into the MRI
scanner, causing a lethal head injury.

I underwent an MRI last week at Scottsdale Memorial Hospital. At
pre-registration, and again prior to entering the MRI room, I was
asked if (1) I had ever gotten a metal fragment in my eye, and (2)
if I had any metal implanted anywhere in my body (i.e, surgical
implants or body piercings.) The MRI Tech stated that if there was
any ferrous metal fragment in the eye, the magnetic fields of the
MRI could cause the fragment to move and cause damage. This was in
accordance with the FDA safety for MRIs. Non-ferrous
materials should not be an issue.

How do you see the UV when you weld? I didn’t think that UV was in
the visible spectrum…infrared is also not in the visible spectrum,
but I have never heard of infrared causing eye damage. Eye damage
from UV is well documented, AFAIK.

Lee Einer

    I hate working with "Industrial Myths." - (our equivalent of
urban myths") I need to know! 

Tony This is why I suggested you contact Aura Lens they can provide
you with about appropriate protection for the work you
are doing. The majority of their business is for glass and metal
workers they are very familiar with our needs. Gas flames do produce
some UV , how much depends on the temperature and what things are
being heated, i.e. metal, brick, flux etc. As an example an
Oxy-Propane torch used to heat borosilicate glass will produce
significant amounts of UV but the same torch used to solder silver
on a charcoal block does not produce very much. As to Infrared I
have a friend who has spent much of her adult life as an enamel
artist she has suffered severe eyesight problems from too much time
looking into electric kilns without eye protection! She is almost
legally blind at this point. The infrared will cook your eyes so if
you solder all day long and have very dry irritated eyes at the end
of the day it is probably from too much exposure to infrared



Tony, Just to clarify a few things… my source for my recent
posting was a combination of OSHA materials (cited in my original
post), as well as consistent documentation within the welding
industry’s safety publications. I did fairly extensive reading and
research on the issue and made every attempt NOT to perpetuate
hearsay or industrial (or urban) myths. Like you, I hate relying on
hearsay and like to understand the “why” behind rules and regs and
recommendations. You will, of course, have to make your own decision
as to how far to go to protect your eyesight. But if you find
documentation that contradicts the statements and recommendations
I’ve made, then please pass it along so we can all become better

In the case of things like cooking stoves and log fires, very few
people stare at the flames of them for hours a day, every day for
years, like a bench jeweler who does a lot of soldering stares at the
areas where the flame contacts the metal. They are likely also quite
a bit further from the flame than most of us, particularly when
soldering intricate or delicate work. Likewise with UV - it all
depends on how much you’re doing, and how you’re doing it.

There is also an issue of personal sensitivity to exposure.
Personally, I have eyesight that is very intolerant of bright
sunlight – causes migraines if I’m in the sun for very long on a
bright day without dark sunglasses. So, my sight doesn’t tolerate the
glare factor of an oxy-acetylene setup without reacting to it more
intensely than some other folks may find. That tells me that I need
more intense protection than you might. But I have no problem with
the glare of an acetylene-air setup, so for that I’ve determined that
I “just” need UV protection unless I’m doing casting.

As with anything, it depends on exposure and personal need.

With regard to the MRI, my friend was just as surprised by the
requirement as I was and was told that this is a fairly new and
strict policy for MRI testing (here in the U.S.). I believe it was
adopted after the death of a 6-year-old boy in Texas in 2001, who was
killed when the MRI room had not been cleared of metal objects, and
an Oxy cannister (the size of a fire extinguiser) was pulled across
the room by the MRI magnet. That was the first death, but certainly
not the first injury from similar accidents. (Not an urban myth,
here’s one of the AP articles on it: ).

Here is safety text excerpted directly from WebMD, which
is one reputable medical source available online. If your doctors
aren’t asking about metal exposures, they should be. My mom, with 2
hip replacements, cannot have an MRI – her doctor told us that 4
years ago when she had the first hip done.

QUOTE: Before the MRI test, tell your doctor if you:

a… Have a pacemaker, artificial limb, any metal pins or metal
fragments in your body (especially in the eyes), metal heart valves,
metal clips in your brain, metal implants in your ear, tattooed
eyeliner, or any other implanted or prosthetic medical device (such
as a drug infusion pump). Also, tell your doctor if you have worked
around metal or if you have recently had surgery on a blood vessel.
In some cases you may not be able to have the MRI test done.

b… Have an intrauterine device (IUD)in place. An IUD may prevent
you from having the MRI test done. END QUOTE

As always, I will be happy to read any further sources that you can
point to that contradict (or support) this research … it’s my goal
to be a well-informed and well-protected jeweler :slight_smile:

Karen Goeller

 For example - I've had many MRI's and they've never worried about
metal particles -  from what I understand the magnetic fields set
up a resonance (attract/repel) so there's no danger of moving
metallic substances

Tony - Perhaps its a regional difference, but when I had a MRI of my
head and neck recently, they did ask about metal, and when i said I
worked with steel as a hobby, they had me go in for a test to
determine that there was none lodged in the eye from grinding etc.

Ivy in Oakland, CA


Tony asks great questions about this whole eye-protection thing. I
hope somebody has answers.

What I am wondering is, I have the pale didimium (sp?) glasses used
for lampworking. Do these protect from UV and infrared? It would be
tough to get in the habit, but I could wear them to solder.


       from what I understand the magnetic fields set up a
resonance (attract/repel) so there's no danger of moving metallic
substances - otherwise I'd imagine everyone with dental bridges
and hip replacesments being drawn and stuck to the walls of the
tunnel! BUT I don't know this for sure. 

Well if that ain’t hearsay Tony I’ll bite my bum! Dental bridges
and surgical prostheses are not FERROMAGNETIC mate.

    Likewise I can see and test the UV given off in welding 

By definition ultraviolet radiation is outside the visible part of
the spectrum - how then can you see it ?

Al Heywood


Your eyes are unable to see energy above the blue end of the
spectrum - the ultra violet , but this light is dangerous to them
and to your skin… Glass is relatively transparent to these rays
but the current plastic polycarbonate lenses block 100% of this
radiation or can be easily made to do so with dyes that still leave
them totally clear for vision. If you are wearing these either
for corrective vision or as safety glasses your are protected from
this whether the ultra violet originates from the sun or flame
sources. Tinted lenses reduce the intensity of light so vision is
better but glass ones do not necessarily protect against UV
exposure. Tinted glass welding lenses reduce the intensity but UV
protection is provided by the polycarbonte “protective” piece .
For the typical jewelry soldering with small flames you are
protected from UV with the proper plastic safety glasses or your
normal plastic polycarbonate vision"glasses". Optivisors have
glass lenses and provide no protection from UV by themselves but
will if used ion conjunction with polycarbonate safety or vision
correcting polycarbonate "glasses ". Infra red radiation - "heat"
is below the red end of the visible spectrum . Neither normal
glass or polycarbonate lenses provide much protection from intense
infra red radiation or “heat”. Small soldering flames are not much
concern but looking into hot kilns or furnaces or the very intense
oxy fuel flames used by borosilicate glassworkers will cause
permanent damage .

As Jim Binnion suggests the best source for proper eye protection
for craftspeople is Aura lens:

They will help you select the proper vision aids without the hype
and very often incorrect from other sources.

Additional valuable can be found at:

These people do not serve the direct market but provide a lot of
on their site.


  How do you see the UV when you weld?" 

I don’t - but you can measure it using the right equipment. - But
then again I don’t weld (there again I’m technically aware that some
consider silver soldering akin to welding.) I solder silver and gold
(not platinum - hate the stuff - won’t use it - nasty cold
unresponsive metal! The Spanish had it right when they considered it
unripe silver and threw it back into the streams in S. American when
they found it!)

I do use protection for enamelling in a kiln - I got very sore eyes
while I was at college from not doing this and I suspect it’s a
causative factor for the formation of cataracts.

The MRI info is new to me - we live and learn (well I do anyway!)

I think the last question I have is "Does silver, like platinum,
give off UV when it is heated? If so is this amount of radiation

Tony Konrath
Gold and Stone