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Why Acetylene?

hi everybody,
there were a couple of yarns where people mentioned they were
using acetylene for fuel. curiosity prompts me to ask the
question: what advantages are there using acetylene as opposed
to other fuels? propane, natural gas, hydrogen and i hear map
gas burns infinitely cleaner than acetylene. i know the natural
gas doesn’t work well casting platinum but the other fuels,
especially hydrogen are plenty hot enough. acetylene is hotter
than all these fuels (except hydrogen) but introduces
contamination to the metal we’re heating/melting.

i use popane for all the above metals to fabricate and cast. i
would prefer hydrogen to cast but i’ve been too cheap to buy
another set-up.

i have a perspiring mind, and i want to know.

geo fox


Hi George,

Well, for myself, I can only claim ignorance. I was just
setting up my new studio, and a local dealer had a good deal on
one of the Little Torches at a show… oxygen/acetylene. I
questioned… he assured. I have tried to adapt the regulator
for a propane tank, but after repeated configurations, still get
a leak. I would really prefer the O2/propane combination for a
cooler flame, but don’t want to play with fire, so to speak.

If I was doing any platinum, I’d want to stick with my current
gas mixture, but I don’t forsee any platinum in my immediate

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio
Charlotte, NC

there were a couple of yarns where people mentioned they were
using acetylene for fuel. curiosity prompts me to ask the
question: what advantages are there using acetylene as opposed


I use acetylene because it goes up instead of down incase of a
leak. I put up with the little black things floating in the air
for what I think may be a little safer. Also, if I ever brave
into the world of platinum I will already have the heat. If you
turn the oxygen on fast enough after lighting the gas, you don’t
get as many little black things! I haven’t melted anything
recently since I turned down the pressure. Of course, this came
up on the forum after I stumbled through major melt-downs and
decided less gas - smaller flame…da That’s my reason…sorry
you asked? ha

Claudia White

Dear Perspiring Mind,

I use acetylene because I like a large soft flame. I work in
silver and mostly fabricate jewelry but do the occasional candy
dish, baby spoon etc. I do not do this as a 9-5 job.

Marilyn Smith

I forgot to mention that I use a Presto-Lite torch. This does
not use oxygen so I do not have black floating things and do not
need to use dark glasses.My undergraduate class used compressed
air and natural gas. My graduate work was spent with
Presto-Lites and so I was already comfortable with them. Marilyn

You need a different regulator for propane than acetylene, the
way they are stored in the tanks is very different, for one
thing. The little torch works very well with propane- except for
the #1 & 2 tips. Propane/oxygen is a cooler flame but also has a
lower heat transfer rate. You get a bit better control, and less

Acetylene has a highly energetic triple bond between it’s two
carbon atoms- and when that bond breaks it releases all that
energy, mostly as heat. It is also really sooty.

Richard D. Hamilton

Fabricated 14k, 18k, and platinum Jewelry
wax carving, modelmaking, jewelry photography

Hi George,

i have a perspiring mind, and i want to know.<<

This isn’t documented any place that I know of, only opinion,
but it looks good on paper (bg).

Probably on of the main reasons why acetylene is used so
extensively is its availability. It was one of the first gases to
be commercialy available that produced enough heat for welding
etc in the ferrous metals industries. As a result of this & its
packaging, it began to be used in other industries even though
we now know there were other superior fuels. It to ok time for
the other fuels to reach a consumer market of sufficient size to
justify the production & marketing infra structure to make them

As a result of the availability & price of the other gases &
sophistication of the user just about any gas that burns hotter
& cleaner than a match is used by someone for something.


Actually acetylene is significantly hotter than hydrogen. All
other fuels are suitable for gold work. Acetylene does have
several advantages over the other feuls. Of course it is the only
fuel suitable for almost any platinum work. The other advantage
is for soldering large rings with stones. It seems that the most
common way to protect stones from heat is to wrap them in wet
toilet paper. The problem is that when it drys out the stones
burn. It is the biggest problem with large silver rings.
Acetylene is hot enough that you can have the solder finished
before the rest of the ring gets hot.

It is only dirty when you have a pure acetylene flame. You can
see the soot rising to the ceiling. But once you turn on the
oxygen, it burns up the soot. I have never had any problem with
contamination on any metal using it.

I have been set up with propane, hydrogen, and acetylene. The
hydrogen and propane are gone now and I use acetylene
exclusively. It does everything that other gases can and a lot
that they cannot. One more thing, acetylene is the only gas that
will work with the very small torch tips.

Best Regards,
Bill Raby


I have been using a Smith acetylene regulator on my propane tank
for over 10 years now and I have had no problems(obviously):slight_smile:


                                  Skip Meister
                                NRA Endowment and
1 Like

hi richard,

not all regulators fit all tanks, but if you are able to adapt
the regulator,a ‘fuel’ regulator will work on either propane or
acetylene. this is according to my gas supplier. hydrogen though,
requires a different regulator.

best regards,

geo fox

hi marylin, i guess you’re using one of those presto-lites? they
do give a great neutral flame. i too loved that torch while i
used it. that was a while ago.

if i guess correctly about the presto-lite, when and if you
consider going to a oxy-fuel set-up ask your fuel supplier about
the economy, versatility and cleanliness of propane vs acetylene.
tahnks for your comments.

best regards,

geo fox aka perspiring mind

hi claudia,

sorry i asked? nah, i’m on a campaign to convert you to propane!
propane is plenty hot enough to use for platinum. 3lbs on the
propane side, 30-40 on the oxy side and it is cooking. concerned
about propane pooling and exploding yur studio? check for leaks
just like you would ( i hope) for acetylene. propane being
heavier than air and should be a concern but not a deterrant. i’m
confident you’ll learn to hate those little black things over

best regards,

geo fox

hi dave,

sometimes the propane tank itself is leaking. there is a
pressure release on the valve of the tank that needs to be open
when being filled. sometimes the guy filling the tank doesn’t
close it all the way… i 've owned several brands of regulators
and none of them required adaptors so i’m guessing you have smith
regulators. the kind that go on the smaller tanks of acetylene.

i love the smiths little torch, but not the light duty
regulators it sometimes comes with. best regards, geo fox

hi bill,

i know there is propably no hope to convert you to propane. but
just to let you know, my fuel supplier showed me a picture of a
welder cutting one (or was that two?) inch steel plate with
propane/oxy set up. i do all my platinum fabrication and casting
with propane. takes less than a minute to melt small charges of
an ounce or so. i’m able to retip prongs with an emerald,
amethyst, opal in the next setting over with the same heat sink
you’re using (great trick, that toilet paper, huh?). lveska has a
very informative post regarding this subject. the post makes a
good observation: but it may just be that i’m used to it.

best regards,

geo fox


We use propane just because its cleaner. I don’t like having to
leave the oxygen on with the acetylene to prevent soot. However
the ceiling in the shop is sooty above each torch even with the
propane, they are all going all day. I really like the propane we
do everything but cast with it. We use acetylene for that, I
think it really comes down to what you are used to. I didn’t
like using natural gas (from the local utility) just because you
couldn’t turn up the pressure when you had something big to

Mark P.

Hi Skip,

What kind of propane tank are you using? I just have one of
thos round barbeque tanks. I was able to find the "right"
adapter for the regulator, but got a leak around the threads.
While several people recommended correcting the situation with
teflon tape, I was also advised that the threads on a gas
connection aren’t supposed to seal. The seal should come from the
male/female connection, and the threads just provide mechanical

I switched out both the adapter and the tank, but no joy. I
also took the whole assembly down to the welding supply shop and
they gave up.

Are you using a different type of tank than mine?

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio
Charlotte, NC

Have been watching the thread re acetylene vs other types of
gases and couldn’t help putting in my two cents. When I learned
silver/gold smithing in Taiwan about 25 years ago we used
"gasoline generators" (a small tank with valves that produced and
controlled gasoline vapors) and an “air pump” (a bellows
monstrosity with a rubber diaphragm made from an auto tire tube
on top to contain a reservoir of air when pumped up). Dangerous
as all get out but it worked fine on normal soldering. It was
difficult to get up to heat when melting an oz of metal to cast
though. Sometimes the air reservoir would blow up like a baloon
until I thought it would burst. We also did some work with blow
pipes but that nearly killed me. Anyway, I then used Mapp gas
and even bhutane for awhile. All of them work on smaller jobs
and even some casting but they are not very efficient. I finally
graduated to an acetylene and 02 “Little Torch” and was very
happy even with the sticky soot that resulted as it gave a heat
range I could do everything with. A couple of years ago I moved
to FL and now have a small “garage shop” operation…acytaline is
just too dirty for this environment. I now use propane (also
with a “Little Torch”) and have been able to do almost everything
I could with acytaline (though I do no platinum any longer). You
should be aware that each type of gas requires its own
regulators and tips…they are not interchangeable and it is
dangerous to try. But then it doesn’t get much more dangerous
than using the “gasoline generator”. Cheers, Don

Looks like I should have asked this question years ago, but
never thought of it. I keep the oxygen on my little torch at 5
psi and on 4 psi on the propane. Has always worked well, but now
I am wondering if this is correct? As a matter of fact, I just
looked, and my regulator for the oxy only goes up to 30 psi. Any
other opinions? When I start using platinum will I have to
increase the oxygen pressure?

Thanks in advance.

Sharon Ziemek
GoldStones, Inc.

I began with a presto-lite torch about 20+ years ago. I
purchased an oxy-propane (lil’ torch) a few years back but it is
hard for me to get used to it. I guess it’s hard to break away
from established ways.

                                     Darryl (Nova Scotia)

After reading the above, I’ve become totally confused.
“Propane/oxygen is a cooler flame” cooler than Propane (not from
what I’ve heard . . .) cooler than acetylene? I’ve always
assumed that propane/oxygen was “hotter” than other types of

I’ve often wondered, also, how limited is one when using this
torch? I make fairly large pieces, and when I used (in a class)
the 'Little Torch" we found that the piece would NOT get hot
enough for the solder to flow. (Of course, all students were
totally inexperience with soldering, and the instructor claimed
to be a “gold smith” but we were working with copper, brass and
nickel-silver.) Since then, I switched torches and work almost
exclusively in silver . . . I use an acetylene torch and love it.