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Can I use Propane or Propylene instead of Acetylene

Thursday, 12th January 2017

I take a lot of calls regarding using Oxygen + Propane or Oxygen + Propylene instead of Acetylene + Oxygen.

Well the short answer to the Title question is, “Yes” and “No”.

Sorry its ambiguous, but it all depends what you want to do!  Let me explain!

Fuel Gas Options

Oxygen + Fuel Gas kits used to be simple, you had Oxygen + Acetylene!  However, the waters are now muddied by a number of factors.

  • Acetylene can be hard, and expensive, to obtain.
  • Cylinder Rental for Acetylene Cylinders has shot up in price.
  • Acetylene often rings alarm bells with Health & Safety conscious officials because of its combustibility and unstable nature!

Unfortunately, Oxy/Acetylene is still the best all purpose gas combo, but there are viable alternatives, as long as you know what you want to be able to do and you choose carefully.

Oxy Propane

Oxy/Propane KitOxygen Propane Gun

Propane is the easiest fuel gas alternative to Acetylene to obtain and is normally supplied in cylinders on a Deposit basis, rather than rented (as is usually the case with Acetylene).

For most users, Propane works out cheaper, especially for infrequent users of Oxygen + Fuel kits. The only real downside to using Oxy/Propane is that it can’t be used for actual Welding.  Oxygen and Propane fuelled kits are however, ideal for Silver Solder, Brazing, Cutting and Heating.  So as long as you don’t want to Weld, Oxygen and Propane is a great way to go! Oxygen + Propane produces a flame temperature of around 1800⁰C.

Oxy Propylene

Small Gas Heating & Brazing Kit

Propylene is a blend of gases, including Propane and available in a number of throwaway canister Brands, Gasex, Mapp & Turbo Gas to name but three, it’s also available in larger, refillable cylinders.  An Oxygen/Propylene mix burns quite a bit hotter than Oxygen and Propane, typically around  3100⁰C and could, therefore, be considered better as jobs will reach operating temperature quicker.

Unfortunately, like Propane, Propylene is not suitable for fusion welding.  You will find people out there who will tell you it can be used to weld, but in tests that I’ve carried out, the welds it’s produced have been fairly brittle, so I certainly would be doing anything structural or that my Life depended on with it!!!

Oxygen + Propylene is however excellent for Silver Solder, Brazing & Heating.

Oxygen + Propane equipment should also be used for Oxygen + Propylene.

The Welders Warehouse offers a number of excellent Kits, please take a look at our Oxy Propane/Propylene Kits Page to see the range!

Oxy Propane/Propylene Torch

Whilst a standard Oxy Acetylene Torch can be used for Oxy Propane/Propylene, it’s far from ideal.  Propane & Propylene are slower burning gases.

Propane & Propylene also travel through the system as a vapour, not a gas, not actually turning into a gas until they meet air.

The Welders Warehouse has developed two special Multi-Jet Torches for Oxygen + Propane & Propylene.

Lightweight Oxy Propane/Propylene Torch

Heavy Duty Oxy Propane/Propylene Torch

Both use our own, specially designed Multi-Jet Nozzle, which is a lot easier to light and a less likely to blow out, compared to an Oxy/Acetylene Nozzle.

Oxy Propane Torch

Oxygen Propane Torch

Conclusions

With the right equipment, Propane or Propylene, when mixed with Oxygen, are a viable alternative to Oxy Acetylene for most applications, except fusion welding.

Hope you found this article useful.

Please let me know what you thought of this article by leaving a comment.  Don’t worry, your email address won’t be added to a database or shared and you won’t receive any unsolicited email.

Cheers

Graham

Technical Advisor – The Welders Warehouse Ltd