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Use, Maintenance and Storage of Acetylene Torch

Hello All -

I’ve spent several hours searching the archives for info on the safe
use, maintenance and storage of my acetylene-air torch set up but I
still feel unsure and there’s a big crink in my neck from sitting so
long at the computer! :slight_smile: Many of the posts have said something
to the effect that it can be safe as long as “proper care” is taken

  • but no one has clearly spelled out what “proper care” means. So
    please bare with this newbie - - and would someone give a lesson on
    this? Or point me to where I can find complete info?

Here are my specific questions - -

My studio is in my garage, which is separate from the house. It is
also my husband’s metal and woodworking shop. We don’t store the
car in there, just our shop stuff plus household stuff like paint
cans, gardening supplies, etc. This time of year we have 2 space
heaters plugged in on timers, they go on at 5am and off at 6pm. The
heaters are like little radiators, fully enclosed, no heating
element is exposed. The tank is in the corner next to my bench and
NOT next to either of these little heaters. It IS near the shelves
where we have the old paint, fertilizer, paint thinner, etc. stored.
Also, my pickle pot is on that side of my bench (which is really an
old large table) sort of right above the tank.

  1. Is this set up dangerous?

  2. Is it ok for the tank to be out in the cold (during the night
    when the heaters are off)? We are having below zero temps at night
    here in the northeast lately.

  3. I always turn the tank valve off and bleed the gas out of the
    hose when shutting down at end of day. But I have not been turning
    the regulator nob - I was told to have it set in the middle and
    leave it there. Is this ok?

  4. This is my first tank - still quite full. But when it starts to
    get towards empty, is it ok to let it run completely out of gas or
    should I make sure I stop before that point?

  5. If, God forbid, I ever have a fire in there, what type of
    extinguisher should I have? Right now we just have a little
    standard household one. What would happen if I just dumped water on
    the flames - would that be ok or make it worse?

That’s all the questions I can think of right now. I appreciate all
your time in reading and responding!


If you are going to be a jeweler you need flamable gas. The stuff is
dangerous it is explosive it could blow up your house I have two
huge hydrogen tanks that I use for platinum casting I have a large
actelene tank for welding and a real big propane tank that is about
five feet long for my forge and blast furnace if it went up there
goes the neighborhood. I have all these tanks stored in my shop
except for the propane which is just outside the door I am careful
to make sure that they are chained to the wall so they cant fall
over and that I turn off the valve at night I dont bleed my hoses or
back off the regulator maybe I should but I never have and have
never had a problem. I would leave your tank right by your bench at
night and use it till it is completley empty then go get a refill or
better yet have a backup so you are not left stranded. These tanks
are in buildings and houses all over the world and you dont here
stories of them blowing up or causing fires everday. If the building
catches on fire it would probably not be because of your tank unless
it leaked and ignited by your heater. Just make sure you close the
valve when you are done you will be fine.

Yes, evdan@att puts it in a nutshell - with reasonable care having
gas tanks can be safe. I would add a few thoughts - The amount of
acetyline gas that needs to leak into a room for it to ignite by a
spark is HUGE - you couldn’t be in the room at all with the
proportion of gas/air needed to ignite. There is a number
somewhere, but its like a 50/50 mix. That doesn’t mean you should
be casual about it, just don’t be paranoid about it. Two reasons
the fire dept. hates hydrogen is it’s eagerness to combine with
oxygen, and that it is odorless - they don’t inject an odor into it
like natural gas ( which is naturally odorless). Even more
dangerous, though, is oxygen, and is why you need to chain all tanks
to something - at 3000psi, if a full o2 tank falls over and that
valve breaks off, it will take off literally like a rocket and go
through you, and the building, and the next building, and the next.
Lastly - if you read the regulator, it says, “Use No Oil”. Brass
isn’t usually oiled, anyway, but the real reason is that, at that
3000psi of oxygen, oil will spontaneously combust - there’s a mess
for ya…

FYI: There is a heavier walled propane tank, available through your
welding supplier, that is often used by plumbers who have to haul
them in and out of all kinds of places. Unlike the common “BBQ” style
tank, these look more like a small acetylene tank. They have a
heavier wall, to resist punctures, and a top ring to protect the
valve. I use these in my studio, and would not consider using the
other type. Propane is stored as a liquid, and becomes a gas as it is
released. There is a LOT of potential in that little tank! Propane is
also heavier than air, so if it leaks, it will form an explosive

Therefore, you must use moderate care when using any compressed

gas. Keep the cylinder chained or tied upright, to prevent it from
accidently falling over. Every night, before you leave your studio,
make it a habit to “make the rounds.” Turn off your gas/oxygen tanks,
turn off the pickle pot, turn of the steamer/sonic/ and any other
electrical devices, then turn on the alarm and turn off the lights.
You will quickly develop a routine. I don’t always bleed my torches,
and I never change my regulator settings. I am only using 2-5 lbs. of
pressure, so there’s not much strain on the diaphragm.

Douglas Zaruba
33 N. Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701
301 695-1107

hi, i’m assuming you’re refering to a small b tank not a big honker
industrial welding bottle in all these answers

  1. not really there is fire hazard but with the tank off it should
    be fine in most conditions.

  2. i’ve been using acetelene for 35 + years both in jewelery and
    plumbing. i routinely leave the tank outside in my truck. keep it
    upright to keep the gas stable. 3.shutting off the main valve key and
    bleeding is fine. the regulator knob doesn’t need to be touched if
    you’re happy with the gas flow. the regulator’s job is to regulate
    the flow of gas to your torch head. if you want a bigger flame add
    more pressure as read on the valve and adjust up or down at the
    torch head . for less pressure do the opposite.’ll notice as the tank gets empty the flame intensity will wan.
as you approach empty you’ll also get some popping from the acetone
mixing in . i usually replace the tank when the flame velocity gets
weak , mostly cause i’m fussy about my flame being consistant and
not having a popper trash a delicate joint.

  1. it really depends on what’s burning . water is usually a bad
    choice except for wood or paper. electrical fire and any burnable
    liquids come to mind as really bad with water .using water on the
    first could kill you and on the second it’ll just spread the fire
    out. get a couple of really good LARGE fire extinguishers suitable
    for all types of fires. put them in easy to access locations and you
    should be fine .

just my 2 pennies dave