Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Water torch recommendations


#1

Hi,

I am seriously thinking of getting a water torch. However, I am
completely lost at which one to buy. They all work on the same
principle, whoever they all differ. I work on my own, and do normal
soldering, fusing etc. work. I am not planning doing casting and I
don’t think I will in the future.

I wonder if anyone would be so kind as to give recommendations or
reviews on the water torches they use or know about.

Thank you very much,
Lilia


#2

I have two that someone gave me. They work as designed. I would never
have bought one nor would I recommend one to anyone.


#3

Hi Lilia,

First off, I’m in UK, so there is every chance that models available
here are unique to UK.

My water torch is called an AquaFlame. They are available in various
sizes, which refer to the amount of gas they can generate per unit
of time, and thus determines the maximum tip size they can handle.
The larger units can support multiple users, albeit at reduced tip
sizes. The one I have can use a maximum tip size of #16, but I very
seldom use anything larger than #20. A #20 will easily solder the
heaviest gold or silver ring. I use MEK in the gas booster, which is
fine for everything except platinum. I think that meths would be OK
for platinum, but its such a palaver to clean & refill the gas
booster.

Apart from avoiding the need of gas bottles, a major benefit is that
you never need to adjust the mixture of O2 and H; its always exactly
right: you just turn the torch on and light it.

I’ve had it for well over 10 years and missed it greatly when I sent
it away for a full service.


#4

I presume we’re talking about oxy-hydrogen torches, where a caustic
cell converts water into hydrogen and oxygen. Here’s a link from the
Ganoksin archive:

https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/the-truth-about-water-torches

We use one at work, and we also use an oxy-propane torch - the
latter is for big jobs, annealing large items, and for alloying and
casting. The oxy-hydrogen has a small flame that will anneal
anything, given plenty of time for larger items, and will solder
anything below about 3mm square wire. For silver, it’s harder,
because you have to bring the whole item up to temperature. I’ve
soldered platinum rings with it, no problem. It’s a one-person
benchtop model, and plugs into the mains but larger versions exist.

The torch tips can be changed, and the system has a regulator fluid
that can be changed. We normally use methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), but
we have used water as the regulator as well as the fuel - it’s
counterintuitive, but the flammable MEK gives a colder flame than
the water does. This is to do with large amounts of MEK that
evaporate and dillute the amount of hydrogen in the mix.

Don’t buy one rated for multiple users unless you are going to have
several people needing to use them continuously - me and my dad have
no problem sharing one torch between us.

Other types of water torch may operate very differently.

Jamie
http://primitive.ganoksin.com


#5

Hi Gary,

I am in the UK as well. Thank you for your advice. Brilliant! Would
you terribly mind saying which model you have. I want to buy the
right one. Do you know if the basic one has to be switched off after
a period of time (approx 40 min) for cooling down. I was looking at
MicroFlame and the one for one operator needs to be cooled down,
which is not really suitable for me as I need to have it running
contstantly, as I do soldering several time during a day. But the
next model up (apart from costing much more) is much bigger in size
and is for two operators.

The reason I want to have a water torch is that the idea of having
tanks in my house freaks me out. I know they say they are safe and if
you follow safety instructions the chances that they explode are
minimal, but I am a panicking sort of person and constantly think of
them. So now I am determined to buy a water torch, just for the peace
of mind and saving some floor space.

Best wishes,
Lilia


#6

Hi Jamie,

Thank you very much for your feedback. I am a bit concerned now that
the water torches are not suitable for soldering heavier silver
bands, as this is what I make. I read that before, but thought that
as these torches arrive with a wide selection of tips, it would be
just the matter of finding the right one. I am also a bit confused
about ethyl methyl ketone (MEK), as I’ve not heard of it before. Do
you use it instead of distilled water? You say it gives a colder
flame, which is presumably fine for soldering 3mm sq. wire. So, does
the distilled water provide a really hot flame?, would this not be
suitable (too hot or still not hot enough) for soldering heavier
ring shanks?

As Gary said in the previous reply, that this type of torch gives a
constant flame, which is just right for soldering without the need of
regulating any gases, would anyone shed any light, if water torches
are suitable for fusing (I fuse 22k gold).

Noman - thank you for feedback as well, could you please let us all
know why you wouldn’t recommend a water torch, if possible.

Best wishes,
Lilia


#7

Hi

I’m UK based, I use a Klein-weld which looks just like a 2 operator
Microweld, I got it off Ebay and it works well, All I did was change
the fluid inside. It should run all day without a problem as it’s fan
cooled.

But as it gets up to pressure very quickly I don’t always leave it
running, just turn it on when needed.

Biggest problem is getting the MEK as only one supplier will supply
it in 5lt tins.(Cousins)

Water in the bubbler tank will give the hottest temp, the more
volatile the fluid in the tank the cooler the flame. The Hydrogen and
oxygen are produced in the perfect combination for burning. To cool
the flame you need to remove the amount of oxygen in the gas mix. So
MEK etc is picked up in the gas flowing through the bubbler so you
get H20 +MEK. So now you have less oxygen and more fuel in the mix,
so it burns cooler.

Main down side is that you can only change the flame size by
changing tips. You can’t change the pressure and it will blow solder
off.

Fun thing is to aim the flame on a cold steel block and water will
flow away from where the flame hits.

I use it most for doing chainmail or whatever you want to call it,
as it gives great heat in a small place.

Neil


#8

Hi Lilia,

I have the AquaFlame 800. Although its rated for 2 users I have only
one torch. It has a an internal fan and the documentation makes no
mention of the need to switch off to allow cooling.

As you can see from the following photo http://tinyurl.com/mqw4wj my
AquaFlame lives underneath my workbench and, because I find the fan
fairly noisy I do switch it off when not actually using it. It has a
rocker switch that I can easily operate with my foot. Unless its
been off for several days, the torch is ready to be lit as soon as
I’ve switched the unit on.

IHTH
Regards, Gary Wooding


#9

Hi Lilia,

The Oxy Hydrogen mix produced by a water torch produces a flame of
about 2800C (5000F), which is far too hot for silver or gold.
Combining the mix with MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone) vapour reduces the
temperature to about 1800C (3300F), which is just about right. MEK
is used as a solvent in dry cleaning, I believe, and is readily
available from Cousins and LeRonka.

If methylated spirit is used instead of MEK, the temperate is about
2200C (4000F), which is then hot enough to fuse platinum. You don’t
need a very high temperature to solder silver; 1800C is quite hot
enough. You need lots of heat to make up for what’s lost by silver’s
excellent thermal conductivity, and MEK provides more heat (more
calories) than the hotter flames.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#10

Yes. I use oxy/ace (the little torch) for most jobs. I have a couple
of larger torches for bug, heavy stuff like heavy silver cuff
bracelets. I also use a fairly large oxy/ace welding torch for
annealing larger things and for melting/casting. And an LP/oxy torch
for platinum. I have the water torch next to my setting bench and use
it only rarely under the microscope for itty-bitty stuff. But the
flame is so incredibly tiny that, even using pure methanol in my
fluxer, which produces a 4000 degree flame, it’s still too tiny to
use for much of anything.

I have a “wide selection of tips” but the largest is still tiny. FYI
they use hypodermic needles (with the point taken off) as tips. They
range from 18g to 26g. And yes, one uses distilled water in the
generator cell, but there are a few different chemicals one can use
in the “fluxed flame” cell.

I have the KROHN A 300 Fluxed Flame. The guru of this contraption is
Alex Dominguez 1-800-526-6299 (Krohn Industries)


#11

Hi Gary,

I actually had a call yesterday from a really nice man from the
company that manufactures Aquaflame. After talking to him of what I
need the torch for we came to a conclusion that model 500 would be
fine. I was also very impressed with the afterservice they provide.
Also, he said it is ok to leave the machine running all day and use
the torch when required. So, I will definitely go with this torch, I
just need to have a better think whether the 500 model would be
sufficient or whether I would need 800.

Thank you all for your help.
Regards,
Lilia