Torches

Note: Nancy L. T. Hamilton and any affiliates are NOT responsible for any injury, damage or health issues resulting from or even remotely related to these posts!  You understand that you and only you are responsible for your decisions and actions!  Take care and USE COMMON SENSE when working with any material or following any procedure that is even slightly a health risk!!!!!!!!!

 

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Related Videos

Things to know about this page

I have many pages on different torches, scattered throughout my website.  In instances, where the torch is unique or doesn’t come up in discussion very often, I have added more detailed information here, on this page.  Each type of torch has either information or links to information on that particular type of torch.  See the Related Video and Web Page links section, above, too.

What is a Torch?

torch

A torch is simply (or not) a tool for controlling gas and air, to heat or solder metal.  There are many different types of torches that employ, equally as many,  gasses.  Torches have interchangeable tips (usually) that can be utilized for different applications and heat.  Small tips produce, obviously, smaller flames and less heat, larger tips, produce larger flames. The type of torch you use depends on the type of gas you will be using.

Note:  There is a huge difference in the amount of heat generated by what the gas is mixed with.  Air, one element that is mixed with gas, is the ambient air surrounding you and your torch.  Oxygen, is the stuff that comes in a bottle, tank or generator.  We humans have a tendency to interchange the meaning of air and oxygen but, in soldering (and a million other things), they ARE NOT THE SAME THING.  This is very important to remember when learning about and using torches.

Gases Used in Jewelry Making

The gases generally used for jewelry soldering are:  

  • Acetylene
  • Butane
  • Gasoline Fumes (used in Africa and other countries – very dangerous).
  • Hydrogen
  • Mapp Gas
  • Natural Gas
  • Propane

Types of Torches Used for Jewelry Making

Updated: 9/23.17

Acetylene Air

Much about the acetylene/air system has already been covered in numerous post on this site. See: Related Videos and Web Pages, above, for my links.

Specific information for this type of torch setup can be seen in my YouTube Video:  How to Set Up A Torch for instructions on setting up an acetylene/air tank, regulators and hoses.  See how you check for links and the do’s and don’ts of this type of system.

More information can be found on the acetylene/air torch on the following pages:

Acetylene Oxygen

The acetylene/oxygen mix creates a very hot flame. Compare temperatures between the gas/air mix with the gas/02 mix for acetylene:  Gas/02 = 6,296°F/3480°C. Gas/air – 4532°F/2500°C.  Big difference.  If you need a very hot flame, this is the setup for you.

 Generally though, jewelers opt for a propane/02 system if they are going to introduce the oxygen component.

 Acetylene is a much hotter gas than propane so, it makes a good choice when mixing with air alone.  But, when you introduce oxygen, the choice switches to the, much cleaner burning gas, propane.  

Propane and oxygen burn at 4578.8°F/2526°C.  But, when acetylene is mixed with air, it burns at 4532°F/2500°C, while propane burns 960° cooler. (propane/02 = 3572°F/1967°C).  This, 960°F/533°C, while seeming to be not such a big deal, actually is!  The difference is substantial when soldering.  The 1717.2°F difference between acetylene/02 and propane/02 doesn’t really matter because, anything hotter than the 4578.8°F/2526°C of propane/02 is excessive heat.  99.9% of soldering jobs don’t need more heat than the propane/02 mix provides. There may be instances, like when soldering large vessels, where the acetylene/02 mix is required.  Personally, I’ve yet to find a need for a torch that hot.

Propane/Mapp  Air

Nothing here yet!

Propane/Mapp Oxygen

See: Q&A: Torch/Gas for specific information on my recommended propane/02 systems, Here!

Water Torches

Water Torch.  Yep, runs on water. It splits H20 molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is what comes out of the torch and burns.  It can reach very high temperatures but, the flame size is limited to reduce flashback. These types of torches are called HHO systems and I think, work off of Electrolysis.  Please don’t ask me to explain this!!!

Lil-Water-Torch  (The Lil Water Torch). There is also the Lil Water Torch  which includes torch tips, flashback arrestor, etc.. Here’s a video on the torch by the creator, JDC Products. Although, I have heard some negative comments regarding the company not shipping?  There was also a problem with a refund.  So, beware and speak with the company before purchasing.

hydroflux-welder-water-torch (Hydroflux Welder)  Otto Frei ($1,500) carries the HydroFlux Welder as does Gesswein ($1,250) and Rio Grande ($1,275.00) and other suppliers.  This torch is great for repair work but, is not hot enough for casting or large scale work though.  Read more about this torch at Otto Frei. Here’s a link to the MSDS for the electrolyte solution used.  Rio has information on use and maintenance of this product under the “more info” tab at their link.

Check out the SafeFlame EU Project.

I emailed JDC Products with some questions.  Follows, are their answers to them (my questions are in italics with a bullet):

  • what is the composition of the electrolyte?  Do you have a MSDS on this product?  Where would one purchase this electrolyte?
Most alkaline electrolyzers use Sodium Hydroxide or Potassium Hydroxide as the electrolyte. The system will come with a starter amount, about a cup. Sodium Hydroxide is also known as NaOH or common Lye used in the food industry and for things like soap making. Its a caustic chemical but very safe to use. http://www.certified-lye.com/MSDS-Lye.pdf
  • Do you have to add it often?  How long does it last?
Unless you flush the system you usually do not ever have to add any electrolyte as the chemical is not used up in the system, its only used to create higher conductivity of the water so electricity flows through the system easier.
  • What does the electrolyte do? Something about splitting the H2O or is that the electrical current. 
The electrolyte is only used to make it easier for the electricity to flow through the water. Common table salt does the same thing but cannot be used in these types of systems due to the breakdown of the chemical. The electrolytes used with our systems do not breakdown and never needs to be added again once you calibrate the device.
  •  So, I need to buy a computer power supply thingy that has some sort of converter? I read it should be at least 250 watts.  What is the wattage range then? What is too many watts?  Can the amps be adjusted?

I would recomend you use or purchase a 12-14 volt 250-500 watt variable power supply. The voltage adjust dial will also adjust the amps. The higher the voltage and current the more gas you will produce, which translates to a larger more intense flame. We can also include a high quality variable power supply with the unit for an additional $250. The supply has built in safety mechanisms and meters. Once you receive the kit the only thing you need to do is add the distilled water and thats it. The power supply plugs in to any standard ac outlet and also has a 1 year manufacturers warranty. If you order a system and would like me to include a power supply let me know and I will build you an additional invoice for the $250 and include it with your torch unit.

  •    Could I send too much voltage into the machine and is there a way to tell?  What would happen if it was exceeded (10 – 14 volts, I think you said)?   I am not an electrical genius.  Actually, I’d be considered mentally challenged in this area – I can put in a chandelier and understand that there is a pos., neg. and a ground and that’s it!  I don’t understand amps, watts and volts – obviously, I need to do some homework! I just need to know how not to blow up the machine and not kill myself.
As long as your input voltage isn’t rated any higher than 10-14 volts the system will be fine. The more volts and amps you give the cell the more gas and heat it exhausts. If you are interested in the system but not very familiar with power supplies please allow us to supply you with a high quality supply to meet your needs as explained earlier.
  •  What are the “washer dry cells” for, what do they do? Do you need to replace them?
The washer dry cell is a specific type of hydrogen cell design and is not related to the water torch system as the system utilizes a different type of cell design that is more robust. As long as you do not over drive the system with too much voltage or current the cell never has to be replaced.
  •  Is there maintenance required? What does that entail? Replacing the cotton, water and electrolyte I would guess

Yes about every 3-6 months its recomended you flush the system with clean distilled or tap water to remove any sediment or corrosion developed from the system during use. The safety and filtration bubbler will need to be replaced with clean water and cotton filters as well.

  • Do your other torch tips allow for a larger flame? 
  • Any ways to lower the torch temp? Like an adjuster knob on the torch handle? 
The other tips with the unit will create different flame sizes. Unlike compressed gas systems the flame temperature and size is actually controlled by changing the voltage or current as opposed to adjusting the flow or gas pressure. The additional variable power supply will allow you to adjust the flame to your liking.
Do not hesitate to email if you have any other questions and no question is too silly. This technology is very old but from my experience, 90 percent of the population have never even heard of it. I came into the research with much of the same questions. I have sold dozens of the torch systems to hobbyists and jewelers over the past few years and they have all been very happy with the results. Thanks again for your interest and support.

Mouth Blow Pipe – aka: French Torches

blow-torch

Torch image from G&A Warburtons in New Zealand.

The mouth blow pipe, employs the breath of the person working the torch and a non-pressurized gas like from an oil lamp or alcohol lamps.  Historically, mouth pipes were the first torches used in metalworking and employed a hollow reed. They are similar to bellows soldering where air is forced into the gas, making it hotter.  Bellows soldering is still used today, as is the French torch.

Mark Burgess has a YouTube video on this torch.

Here’s some information at Ganoksin by Collette.

For Further Research