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Can I weld with a Propane Torch

Wednesday, 12th August 2020
Graham (Tech Advisor)
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I get asked “Can I weld with a Propane Torch”, a lot.

Sadly, the simple answer is NO, you need Oxygen and Acetylene to Fusion Weld.

Its not about heat because you can melt steel with Oxy/Propane

A lot of companies are now offering Propylene as an alternative to Acetylene. Oxy/Propylene is a lot hotter than Oxy/Propane but you still can’t successfully weld with it.

Oxygen + Acetylene produces a strong, malleable weld. Oxygen and Propane or Propylene will produce a hard brittle weld.

Why can’t you weld with Propane?

I confess I don’t know the precise in’s and out’s of why this is and am not too bothered. I’ve read that it’s because the weld pool oxidises during the welding process and this seems a likely explanation.

I’ve also read that the Carbon atoms that part make up Acetylene (Acetylene is 2 atoms of Carbon + 2 atoms of Hydrogen, C2H2) combines with the Oxygen to form Co2 and that this acts as a shielding gas (a bit like Mig).

This explanation raises a question for me because Propane has 3 atoms of carbon, so why doesn’t it do the same?

Anyway, as I said, I’m not overly bothered about the science because if it were possible to overcome the fact that you can’t produce acceptably strong welds with Oxygen + Propane/Propylene, someone would have done it and taken on the VAST Global Acetylene market.

What can you use Oxy/Propane for?

The good news is that you can do pretty much everything else with Oxygen + Propane or Propylene. Assuming you have the right Torch or Kit.

Oxy Propane Kit
Oxy/Propane Kit

Heating, Cutting, Brazing and Silver Soldering are all easy to carry out with Oxy/Propane.

A Word of Warning

You MUST NOT use an Acetylene Regulator, Acetylene Flash Arrestor or Acetylene Hose with Propane or Propylene. Propane and Propylene will corrode internal parts of Acetylene equipment, making it dangerous!!!!

Oxy Propane Torch
Oxy/Propane Torch

I personally would not use Propane or Propylene with a Gas and Air Torch, except for soft soldering.

Propane Torch
Gas/Air (Propylene/MAPP) Torch

Gas/Air torches produce a reasonable amount of heat, but it is not very concentrated or focused and the significantly lower flame temperature means it can take too long to get the job to Brazing or Silver Solder temperature, thus allowing oxides to form.

Can I weld with a Propane Torch Conclusion

“Can I weld with a Propane Torch”, NO! Harsh, but true 😀 However, with the correct equipment, you can do pretty much everything else.

I hope this blog article useful, even if it din’t give you the answer you were hoping for.

Please let me know what you thought of this article by leaving a comment.  

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