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Which water torch is best for me?


#1

Hi,

I’ve been making jewelry for about two years using an acetalyene
torch in my teacher’s studio. I’ve just begun to sell my work and I
need to have access to a torch in my apartment. Right now I have a
small refillable butane torch but the label on the bottle is pretty
scary (causes cancer and birth defects?) In any case, I live in a
residential building (a small brownstone) and for safety reasons I’m
interested in using a water torch. I work mostly in silver and some
gold and gold fill. I’m wondering if there’s anyone out there who
has had experience with some of the water torches out there and
could maybe give me a break down of the pros and cons of each. I
want to get as much as possible before making such a
huge investment.

Also, just a note: I did see a post where a question like this turned
into a debate about the safety of oxygen and other gases, etc. I’m
not looking for any kind of debate like that. Just simply the info
about the water torches would be great.

Thanks so much.
Anne


#2

Hello,

I have very favorable experience with the HydroFlux welder made by
Okai. It is small, simple to run and no compressed tanks at all. The
variety of tips was good, and for an apartment I can not imagine
anything safer.

Daniel Ballard


#3

This is just personal opinion. I like the hydro-flux welder. All the
torches work great. it is just I feel, very at easy with the
hydro-flux

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


#4

Hi Anne,

The following is a reprint of a post I made to Orchid in September
2003.

  The truth is: water torches are excellent tools to add to your
  bench! I purchased a Stan Rubenstein Associates model SR250
  about 6 months ago and it has become my main torch. It allows
  me to solder more delicate pieces that used to require kiln
  soldering. Filigree repair is a snap. I use it for soldering
  bezels, making small shot, soldering bails, etc. It can be used
  for annealing small pieces as well. The flame size is
  controlled by tip size and adjustable electrical current. The
  smaller tips produce a tiny pinpoint flame. The largest tip
  produces a flame about 1-1/2 inch in length at 5000 degrees.
  The user has no adjustable control of the oxygen and hydrogen.
  It is delivered to the tip about 50/50 mix. There are no
  regulators to mess with. I was concerned about this initially
  but with use I realized the mix is just fine the way it is. The
  principles of gas generation works like this: The torch has a
  water tank with a potassium hydroxide electolyte. You add
  distilled or deionized water to the fill line. It has an
  external methanol "bubbler" tank. The raw hydrogen/oxygen gas
  bubbles through the methanol then travels up the hose to the
  tip. The coolest thing about the water torch is you can add
  boric acid to the methanol and have a fluxing flame. It burns
  Star Wars light saber green. The fluxed flame reduces fire
  scale and has a fluxing effect on the piece being soldered. You
  can run the torch about 4 hours continuous before topping off
  the tanks. I usually fire it up, wait 30 seconds, light the
  torch, use it, turn it off. In 6 months I haven't had to add
  any water. Some people allow the torch to run continuous and
  light it for a soldering operation, then extinguish it but
  keep it on generating gas. There isn't a safety issue because
  it produces such a low volume of gas. It is much cheaper to
  operate than conventional torches. The water torch is extremely
  portable and can be used at remote sites like shopping malls
  and craft shows. I am a fabricator, so this isn't the only
  torch I use. It will pay for itself quite rapidly if you mainly
  do repair work, though. My torch retails about $1000 but I
  bought it new on eBay for $600. I have seen similar torches in
  the Rio catalog and they operate with the same principles
  mentioned above. Tips are inexpensive hypodermic needles and
  easily replaced, even with glue applicator tips of the right
  gauge. You can see my torch at the following link:
  http://www.sra-solder.com/ww.htm 

Two years after the original post: November 2005. I have been using
the SR250 nearly three years. I have used less than a gallon of
distilled water and maybe a pint or two of methanol in that time. I
use other torches for annealing and soldering larger pieces. The
water torch produces a hot spot great for soldering jump rings and
bezels, but can’t overcome the heat sinking effect in larger pieces.
I have to say that I cannot recommend purchasing a water torch
thinking it will handle all your needs. I really love it for the fine
soldering; nothing else comes close to the control and precision it
affords me. Would I buy another one if my was stolen? YES!

John
It’s In The Works Studio