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Water torch bubbler for gold work?


#1

Does anyone else use a water torch? I was wondering what would be
best solution to use in the bubbler for gold work? I found a chart
somewhere (Orchid?) that gives you the different flame temperatures (
I believe) based on different bubbler solutions:

Straight oxy-hydrogen - 3300 degrees
Methylated spirits - 2200 degrees
MEK (Methyl ethyl ketone) - 1850 degrees
Acetone - 1200 degrees

Alcohol is also used but don’t have the on it.

For those who are unfamiliar (And I believe this is correct info) the
bubbler chamber is just a small tank that the oxygen and hydrogen
gases are bubbled through to 1) help prevent blowback in the tank 2)
add another chemical to the oxygen/Hydrogen gas mix to make the
flame visible (apparently oxy-hydrogen flame is invisible) 3) to
control the flame temperature (i.e. reduce).


#2

Scott,

I use denatured alcohol as my everyday booster fluid - this has
worked well for me with gold and I even do some silver work with it.
I found acetone ran too cold for gold, but was fine with silver.

Just my experiences… hope it helps.

Regards,
Nicole Taylor


#3

Hi Scott,

Yes, all your assumptions are correct. I’ve been using a water torch
for gold and silver work for about 10 years now. I find that MEK
provides a very satisfactory compromise between flame temperature
and heat capacity, so that’s what I use. It took several years to
decide to switch from oxy/propane to a water torch, but my only
regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. It can solder anything from the
tiniest chains up to the heaviest bracelets just by changing the tip.
There are no gas bottles to look after and the flame is always
correctly adjusted.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#4

Dear Scott:

Thank you for your water torch questions. We (Spirig) manufacture the
Spirflame[tm], a fully patented multicell hydrogen/oxygen generator.
For this reply, I am going to substitute the more common term booster
or booster tank for “bubbler” in my replies.

  1. By direct E-mail, I will send you list of Orchid members and
    others who have allowed us to mention their names.

  2. Each person in the trade has their own way of doing things. And
    we have often seen one customer doing exactly the same work using
    different booster fluids. One will use acetone (cool soft flame) and
    another will use Methanol (hot pointed flame). However, as a Swiss
    firm I keep a lot of statistics on what customers are using and why.
    There is no “correct fluid” in this area for gold. Platinum and
    silver is different, more easily defined. The majority of our
    customers (Approx. 70 percent in North America once nonjewelry
    accounts are removed) use methanol as their booster fluid.

  3. There are a few of these charts, some quite old, are not always
    complete or accurate. A quick look at our web site will show that
    Spirig is a large suppier of temperature measurement labels and
    equipment. So we have considerable experiance in the area of precise
    temperature measurement. To quickly cutand paste and for technical
    accuracy in the fine points, I use the term

Spirflame[tm] gas" for hydrogen/oxygen.

Spirflame[tm] Gas = 3,300 degrees C or 5,972 degrees F.

Spirflame[tm] Gas and Methanol = 2,700 degrees C or 4,892 degrees F.

Spirflame[tm] Gas and Isopropanol = 2,500 degrees C or 4,532 degrees
F.

Spirflame[tm] Gas and MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone) = 1,700 degrees C or
3,092 degrees F.

Spirflame[tm] Gas and Acetone = 1,500 degrees C or 2,732 degrees F.

We are also involved in a number of applications where booster
fluids are mixed in specific percentages to tailor a flame to a
customers specific need. A few of these are in the jewelry trade.

  1. Yes, you have it, although there are some interesting (important)
    finerd points.

A) A “single tank” booster system is often not large enough to run
very long and still protect, and it is not as reliable as it should
be. It also will not compensate for gas expansion and contraction
which is needed to keep the booster fluid from sucking into the
generator and causing harm. It also greatly depends upon maintenance
for flashback prevention and success, not a good thing. You can
obtain double boosters which solve a number of safety and operating
problems (in our case even a Quad Booster with autofill for
continuous nonstop operation of multiple benches).

B) Also to control the flame configuration. As you go from one
booster fluid to a cooler one, the flame produced will also get
wider. The area of protection and coverage will improve. Boosters
also try to trap moisture. Water torches (single cell) often used in
the jewelry industry produce a very moist gas. So an additional
function of the booster is to try and catch this caustic moisture in
the booster fluid. This caustic material has the gift of clogging
tips, valves and safety items. Our Spirflames[tm] produces a much
drier hydrogen/oxygen gas allowing cleaner, more stable, burning. It
is a common requirement for our flame temperature to have to maintain
a plus or minus one degree of temperature. There is none of the
common flame pulsing and fluctuation often seen in piped, bottled or
single cell systems. The longer a single cell system is running the
easier this is to notice.

C) Not just control the temperature but stabilize the flame
temperature and size. Also to keep the flame from going to an
oxidizing condition (dirty flame) from electrolyte residue.

A note. There are significant differences in single-cell and
multicell hydrogen/oxygen generators, water welders and what they can
do. Old and new technologies. Each has there own place and value. If
we can answer any additional questions or supply please
fee free to contact me directly at 800 499 9933 or my E-mail.

Best Regards,
Gary
Gary W. Miller
Sr. Technical Advisor
www.spirig.org