What kind of torch/gas to get for home

I’m thinking of setting up my studio at home and I need to decide
what kind of torch to buy. I have natural gas in my house. I have
used a German blowpipe before and like the idea of not having to
fill an oxygen tank.

If I use natural gas and a blowpipe:


do I need to have a flashback arrestor? and if I have a flash back
arrestor do I need a gas pressure booster? I used a blowpipe before
with propane, but have read that propane has to be stored outside.
What are some other safe options?

thanks for all your help!

If you are not going to use oxygen then a flashback arrestor is not
required because you will not have the potential for high-pressure
oxygen to flow into the natural gas line. Flashback arrestors are
only required if there is the potential for high-pressure oxygen to
overcome the low pressure natural gas flow, for example, if the tip
of the torch becomes blocked, and travel down the gas line to the gas

In the future if you decide to use a torch requiring oxygen then you
would need a gas booster in order to have enough natural gas pressure
to flow through the flashback arrestor properly.

Ed Howard
Sales/Marketing Manager
G-TEC Natural Gas Systems

I’m very interested in reading any responses, as I want to get a
better torch for my home too. I too have read that propane ought to
be stored outside, tried calling city in which I live to get better
guidance (so far, there are not any regulations, per se that I could
find) and haven’t had any satisfactory answers to my questions. I’m
obviously keen on choosing the right fuel combo for my situation.


Dear Torch Users,

The best indoor code set up in the cities of St Paul and Minneapolis
is Propane and Oxygen. The only specific restriction is that you
cannot have a refillable propane tank. It must be the one pound and
under disposable size. These are camper size or smaller. They are
marked one pound & under.

The regulator is either a small Smith torch regulator that screws
right on the cylinder or a camper regulator. Both have approximately
5 pounds of pressure automatically regulated and ideal for both bench
work and casting. I have been casting in my own shop with this setup
for over 25 years.

There are no restrictions on the oxygen tank. Small or large they
both have the same regulator. Bench work pressure is 10 pounds of
pressure, casting 20 pounds of pressure.

The torch I still use and recommend is the Hoke. Its bit small for
casting, but great for all bench work. I’ve even taken a few of the
mini torch tips and soldered them on the Hoke for even smaller

Best Regards,
Todd Hawkinson
Southeast Technical College

I don’t bother to keep the gas cylinders outside. This seems clunky
and completely unnecessary. I use a Smith’s little torch with a 4.5kg
propane cylinder and a small oxygen cylinder. They both sit in a
caddy so they can’t fall over. The workspace is well ventilated and I
just make sure I close off the cylinders on their main valves and
shut off the torch valves when I have finished soldering. The volume
of gas in the small hoses is so little to be inconsequential if they
happen to leak. There are no issues with our insurance.

All the best


It sounds good, but if you call your local Fire Marshal you may have
a fine to pay.

I refillable propane tank inside is illegal in most areas. If the
Propane tank is disposable you still get plenty of life out of it.

If you have a fire (anywhere in the house) that tank might make you
liable. A big mess and headache.

You may legally have to have a square warning sign posted on your
door for the Fire Department with your torch set up. Commercial
properties do.

Just because you think it is safe it may not be. Ask and find out in
your area. Code is not hard to do.

Todd Hawkinson
Southeast Technical College

Propane is heavier than air and will pool on the floor of a
basement. Not a good idea to use at home. Natural gas on the other
hand is lighter than air and can dissipate more easily. If using
natural gas, check into a gas booster (G-Tech) sells them. You can
boost the pressure up enough to allow you to use a flashback
arrestor, that is really a must for the safety conscious.


Todd, I am from Minnepolis suberbs, and use the disposable oxy/pro
setup. I am just starting out and found that I go through quite a
few oxy tanks but am still on my first propane tank. I am not finding
a place to dispose of the oxy tanks. Do you have any suggestions for
actually disposing of the disposable oxy tanks? My refuse hauler and
the household hazordous waste center here in the suburbs won’t take
them. Also, I read that using Mapps (sp?) propane tanks conserves
oxy. do you know if that is true?

Thanks much,

You may legally have to have a square warning sign posted on your
door for the Fire Department with your torch set up. Commercial
properties do. 

This may be an issue in North America but it is not in Australia.
Perhaps it’s an issue about different legal regimes, particular
experiences styles of housing etc. I don’t know but small cylinders
of propane are not an issue here. It is different matter for the
larger cylinders used for heating and domestic cooking which have to
plumbed in with the cylinder outside. However for small portable
cylinders it is a non issue legally.

Obviously adequate precautions in terms of ventilation and operation
need to be taken but we should do that anyway.

BTW this is not the only gas cylinder we have inside. Given the risk
of summer blackouts from thunderstorms, we also keep a gas lamp in
the laundry for emergencies (and to use when we go camping).


Allowances for amounts of compressed gas in your home will depend on
your local fire department from city to city throughout the US. It
doesn’t matter, each city is different.

What is allowed in a studio or home in Waltham, MA is completely
different in Maynard, MA.

Size B refillable oxygen tanks are usually allowed in homes, because
they are also medical devices. The problem comes to the fuel. In
Waltham, they didn’t care if a mid-size tank, which believe me is
huge, is in my house. In my studio in Maynard, I can only use a tiny
tank of acetylene which can be refilled, but is a hassle. I can use
the disposable if I want to, but I’m trying to stay as green as
possible…although the gas I use and the time I spend in doing this
is questionable.

For disposable tanks, this takes a bit of hand banging on the doors
of city hall. If a store sells them, then there has to be a
consequence of disposal. Just don’t give up.

Get refillable whenever you can.

Karen Christians


I would suggest a small refillable oxygen tank & regulator. Any
oxygen supply would have them. The tanks are usually owned by the
supplier because of the safety factor. The refillable oxygen tanks
have a date stamped on the side. They are safety rated until the date
expires and then a new valve is installed and they are recertified
and stamped with a new date. I have seen some tanks with dates going
back to the 60s still used with a new valve installed. Smith is a
great brand for the regulator. When you bring a tank in they just
give you another one, not the same one. The initial cost is offset by
how long they last. I go through about six propane tanks for one of
the small oxygen tanks fills. You can also upgrade to a larger tank
when you need to and not have to change regulators.

Many campgrounds have a cylinder recycling center now. I have not
done it, but one an empty tank, no matter what kind would not be
refused. You just drop them off. They recycle dozens of them every
week. A call to the state park may have a better answer. I used the
disposable oxygen tank once until I saw how expensive they were. They
just don’t last as long as a refillable one.

I have not used Mapps gas except for plumbing work.

Best Regards,

Todd Hawkinson
Southeast Technical College


I have an oxy/propane setup with a Smith Little Torch. Initially, I
started out with the disposable oxy bottles, but discovered, as you
did, that they don’t contain much oxygen and get used up very
quickly and are very uneconomical.

I suggest that you purchase or rent an oxygen tank from a welding
supplier (which is what I did). Tanks are in the $100 range,
regulators are about the same and refills are in the $50 range (My
prices are out of date, so you need to confirm with your local
welding supply shop). You can see some examples of this type of
setup in the Rio Grande Tool catalogue (See page 455, item C in the
2010 tools catalogue)

As for disposal, In Calgary, where I live, the local fire dept
accepts these empty oxygen and propane disposable bottles at no