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Water Torch thoughts


#1

I’m curious whether anyone uses a water torch. I vaguely know how
it works. Sounds safer. Sounds like insurance companies like them
better. Do you need a water source (running water) to make them work?
Any info would be great… pro’s and cons… I’m thinking about
getting one. Iris Sandk

FChler
San Francisco


#2

I love the water tourch. No need for running water, just keep a jug
of distilled water on hand. It is a hotter tourch, but you get used
to it quickly.


#3

Hi Iris,

A ‘water torch’ really uses and electrolyte (potasium hydroxide) and
distilled water. This mixture is what the machine uses and splits the
hydrogen and oxygen.

You won’t be able to use tap water. Also if you want to buy one I
would be happy to discuss the differences (pro’s/con’s) in the brands
available to you.

Ken Kotoski
MPG Repair
www.mpgrepair.com
1-877-262-2185


#4

Iris, I’ve been using the Hydroflux Welder off and on for almost a
year now. I use it at my store, mostly for small repairs. I use a
Little Torch with acetylene for some small repairs and all other jobs
at my home shop where I do all of my production work.

You add distilled water and electrolyte together in a chamber for
the water part of the process. Hydroflux sells the electrolyte. I
beleieve it is potassium hydroxide, similar to lye (sodium
hydroxide). There is a sight glass to check when you need to add more
distilled water. The distilled water is the main consumable. The
people at Stuller told me I would only need to refresh the
electrolyte after a year or so.

The torch is fairly noisy because of the fan that cools the
electronics. I have it right next to my face at bench level and tend
to turn it off as soon as I can. The flame is very hot, but small. You
use hypodermic syringe tips with plastic bases for the tips. I still
can’t get over that. Why doesn’t the plastic melt next to a 4850
degree flame?

Even the smallest tips work great. I still have a hard time keeping
my #1 tip lit on the Little Torch and the two smallest tips of the
Hydroflux are smaller than that.

In my experience the water torch is superior for tiny soldering jobs
like rope chain and retipping but the Little Torch puts out way more
heat.

Every time I have to solder a ring shank with the stone in place and
submerged in water I go right to the Little Torch. If I’m soldering
something so small I need magnification I go with the water torch.

The main disadvantages of the water torch are the small size of the
flame (total BTU’s), the strong pressure of the flame (blows the
solder bead off the work and acroos the bench if you aren’t careful)
and you can’t adjust the gas mix (it’s two parts hydrogen, one part
oxygen with no exceptions) to make an oxidizing or reducing flame.

The advantages are the combustion byproducts compared to fossil
fuels (water), a very concentrated flame if you need it, no stored
compressed gasses or tanks to refill and transport in your car and,
if you live on hydroelectric or some other environmentally friendly
energy, you aren’t supporting Osama or Exxon.

John Flynn
http://www.kahiko.com


#5

Some more on Brown’s gas, water torches, even a book on
how to think about building you own water torch.
http://www.eagle-research.com/


#6
 and you can't adjust the gas mix (it's two parts hydrogen, one
part oxygen with no exceptions) to make an oxidizing or reducing
flame. 

While the flame is, by definition, a perfectly neutral mix, neither
oxidizing or reducing, you DO have control over it, somewhat, by
which type of solution you use in the vapor fluxing unit of the
torch. Each type of solution gives you a different temperature range
of the flame you get, and the addition of boric acid to such
solutions gives you a fluxed flame, which will perform more like a
reducing flame than flames with vapor fluxing solutions that are
just one of the solvents.

Peter


#7
   While the flame is, by definition, a perfectly neutral mix,
neither oxidizing or reducing, you DO have control over it,
somewhat, by which type of solution you use in the vapor fluxing
unit of the torch.  Each type of solution gives you a different
temperature range 

Pete, Could you elaborate on this? I thought I could only use the
flux that came with the uniy and use it as is. John Flynn


#8
                          While the flame is, by definition, a
           perfectly neutral mix, neither oxidizing or reducing,
           you DO have control over it, somewhat, by which type of
           solution you use in the vapor fluxing unit of the
           torch. Each type of solution gives you a different
           temperature range 
Pete, Could you elaborate on this? I thought I could only use the
flux that came with the uniy and use it as is. 

You need to use SOMETHING in the fluxer, and only specific chemcials
will work. Use of the wrong materials can damage your torch, So I’d
not recommend experimenting too much with recipies. But different
solvents will produce different flame temps. My info comes not from
your unit, but from the Krohn ones, which of course operate the same,
and the Krohn instructions list several fluxing solutions. Here are
what Krohn recommends and sells, etc.

Their stock solution is a mix of methanol, acetone, and boric acid.
It produces a well fluxed flame usually giving pretty much oxide free
soldering, with a green flame color and a flame temp of around 3000 F
(1650 C). You can buy it premixed from them, or make it yourself.
The recipe consists of 800 ml methanol, 200 ml acetone, and 10 grams
reagent grade boric acid powder.

Methanol by itself can be used which produces a hotter flame with a
temp of around 4000 F (2250 C). Methanol is often the choice when
soldering platinum. This is not as highly fluxed a flame (without the
boric acid), so with other metals you may need additional
conventional flux on the work. Remember, additional flux goes ON THE
WORK, NOT IN THE VAPOR FLUXING UNIT. Fluxes such as Krohn K-flux,
or batterns, work fine.

46or lower temperatures, useful for working white metals, or
otherwise needing temps around 1300F (705 C), you use pure acetone
in the fluxing unit. As with the use of methanol, you’ll likely need
conventional flux on the work.

The Krohn instructions don’t list variations on these, but my own
curiosity would suggest trying the boric acid addition to the pure
solvents, as well as the mix, with ten grams boric to a liter of the
solvent. But try that at your own risk. I have no idea how well it
will, or will not, work.

And if it were me, I might also try, for the pure acetone mix,
adding five grams boric plus five grams borax. The reason is that
borax is more active at lower temperatures than boric acid, so the
vapor fluxing function might be improved at a lower temp range with a
bit of borax added. But I have no idea whether this would actually
work. Try it at your own risk…

Hope that helps.
Peter


#9
    borax is more active at lower temperatures than boric acid, so
the vapor fluxing function might be improved at a lower temp range
with a bit of borax added.  

I do not believe Borax is soluble in methanol or acetone. And I
think the boric acid is only soluble in methanol not acetone. Hey
John Burgess are you listening? Do you have any info on this?

Jim


#10
         borax is more active at lower temperatures than boric
acid, so the vapor fluxing function might be improved at a lower
temp range with a bit of borax added. 
    I do not believe Borax is soluble in methanol or acetone. And
I think the boric acid is only soluble in methanol not acetone. Hey
John Burgess are you listening? Do you have any info on this? 

I agree that borax seems to be insoluble in alcohol and the other
organics. Boric acid is slightly soluble in methanol , acetone and
MEK and some other alcohols. I tested the acetone and MEK but don’t
have any methanol. Literature mentions some solubility in methanol
and acetone. MEK seems to be one of the additive solutions. I have
only used drugstore isopropyl alcohol as a flux solvent -
disbursent and not in a water torch system. I have only seen water
torches work without additives but could have bought one very messy
with flux used one that I passed up. Not having used one, I think
they could have a few maintenance problems with boric acid solution
fluxing. With only solvent added ( no boric acid) to make a
reducing flame they should be fine but watch the hose conditions.
PVC and some other hoses may be unsuitable and bleed plastisizer
(gunky residue) or otherwise damage the hoses. jesse


#11

I just want to remind you that methanol is something to be avoided
if at all necessary, and if you do use it just remember that

  1. methanol can blind you. And you do not have to drink it for this
    to happen!

  2. it can be absorbed through your skin

  3. any vapors in the air if inhaled will also be just as poisonous
    to you as if you had drunk it.

Margaret @Margaret_Malm2, in Utah’s colorful Dixie


#12

I work in a small workshop at home; I have been thinking of
purchasing a water torch because I am uneasy about the need to have
gas canisters indoors. I would like to know if anyone has been using
the water torch for some time. I would appreciate any comments.
Thank you.

Gloria F


#13

Hi Gloria, I thought of getting a simple unit for your same reasons.
I decided to go for the best and got a Spirig. It is a Swiss made
multi-cell Stainless Steel unit. Yes, the cost was an “ouch!” but I’m
really glad I got it. It has plenty of heat and very low maintenance.
I’ve had it six years and it performs like I got it yesterday. Give
me a call if you have any questions 207-729-3599 or email off line.

John, J.A.Henkel Co., Inc., Moldmaking Casting Finishing, Producing
Solutions For Jewelry Artists


#14

Out of the two units… I have worked with I like the hydro-flux.
Easy to maintain… works well on all metals as well plat.

Andy " The Tool Guy" Kroungold
Tool Sales / Technical
Stuller Inc
Phone 800-877-7777 ext. 94194
Fax 337-262-7791


#15

Gloria, I have used the L&R aqua torch and it is great for basic
repairs and retipping. But it’s not good for silver or working large
pieces. It tends to put out a small flame and you don’t have much
control over the adjustment other than changing tip sizes. It is very
safe, but somewhat limited in its uses.

Regards,
Ken Sanders
www.sandersjewelry.com


#16

Dear Andy,

Thank you for your input. The hydro-flux is, of course, more
affordable too.

Gloria F