Can You Use A Butane Torch To Solder Copper Pipe?

A butane torch is an essential item to have on hand, whether you’re searing the perfect crust on a rump roast or brazing a copper pipe fitting in a bathroom remodel. A butane torch produces a flame with a maximum temperature of around 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. These high temperatures, along with the long flames of butane, which may reach up to 6 inches in length, allow these torches to melt and solder metals such as copper and silver. Butane torches are compact and easy to wield, despite their ability to generate a bright blaze. They are normally under 2 pounds and just about 10 inches long.

If you’re in the market for one of these useful tools, keep reading to find out what qualities to look for when shopping. Also, don’t miss this roundup of the greatest butane torches available.

Is butane OK for soldering?

  • Take a close look at a butane flashlight when you’re out buying. Is it primarily made of plastic, with only a few metal components? If that’s the case, despite the wonderful price, put it back on the shelf. Torches that have been left on for a lengthy period of time (during the soldering process) get extremely hot. The heat is concentrated around the torch’s top and torch head. If you use too much plastic, your torch head may melt slightly. This will impede the supply of butane to the torch tip, making it impossible to light the torch. Metal-based torches can be used for long periods of time without causing damage.
  • There are six requirements for a successful set-up: These are the six things I can’t live without. My tiny torch (in this case, the Max Flame), a quench cup, soldering tweezers, safety glasses, and a jellyroll pan as a heat-resistant protecting surface. Next to my workshop, I also have a fire extinguisher. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Knock on wood, I’ve never had to use it, but safety comes first.
  • If a butane micro torch isn’t filled with fuel, it’s useless. For refills, I use normal butane gasoline from the hardware store. Even if you believe it is better to use “To keep your torch head clean, use “triple-refined” gasoline. I use standard, off-the-shelf fuel, and my torches operate well. This is not a recommendation; rather, it is based on my personal experience.
  • I always have my window open when I light my lamp for optimal airflow. Butane is a clean-burning fuel with a relatively short burn period for soldering. What you’re heating, in my opinion, is the biggest source of potentially dangerous emissions. There are certain vapors produced by melting solder and heating flux and metal. The vapors will be kept to a minimum if you work in a well-ventilated environment. For further precaution, you can always use a respirator and a carbon monoxide detector.
  • To protect your table, you’ll need a fireproof work surface, such as a sheet of metal or huge ceramic tiles. Then you’ll need a Solderite board or a charcoal block for soldering. I placed my charcoal block in an annealing pan loaded with pumice for added protection.
  • You don’t need solder when working with tiny silver wire since it fuses to itself. You’ll need flux and solder if you’re soldering sterling or copper. Flux is a paste that keeps the heat where you want it while still allowing the solder to flow. To avoid ruining my good tools, I use pliers, tweezers, and picks only for flame work.
  • Before each usage, refuel the torch to ensure the hottest flame possible. This can also prevent your torch from running out of fuel in the middle of a task–for example, right as your solder is ready to flow!
  • When scraps of silver are burned with a tiny flame, they almost instantaneously convert into perfectly round silver balls. Silver accent balls can be made in practically any size to add to your wire or metalwork jewelry creations.
  • The most basic rule of soldering is that the entire component, not just the connection, must be heated (the place where the two metal ends meet). Concentrating solely on the junction results in the metal being burned away. Instead, swirl the torch around the entire piece slowly and carefully until it’s all very hot. Then concentrate on the joint to make the solder flow (or fuse the fine silver), then quickly extinguish the flame.
  • Because butane torches don’t get much hotter than 2500 degrees Fahrenheit, the amount of heavy gauge sheet and wire you can use, as well as the size of your items, are limited in micro torch jewelry production. Larger components necessitate a greater amount of heat. However, if you want to broaden your skills and make bezels for cabochons or resin, micro torch jewelry manufacturing is a great place to start.
  • Keep the joints or seams all facing the same way when soldering or fusing many parts on a block at the same time so you have a convenient point of reference for where to aim the heat.
  • In comparison to the bright shine you started with, fine silver will appear more white when it’s almost ready to fuse. Focus the heat on the join until it appears whitish or powdery, and it will fuse. Remove the heat as soon as you see the seam join to avoid melting the silver.
  • Cassie shows what happens when you apply too much heat after you’ve fused your join.
  • She explains what happens if you don’t start with a good join before turning on the heat (top right ring). These are all excellent teaching examples that may be used in the classroom “What not to do,” but also to show that life goes on even if something bad happens to you.
  • So you don’t spoil your good tools, dedicate some cheap pliers to your flamework.

What kind of torch do you use to solder copper pipe?

Lead-free solder melts at a greater temperature than lead-based solder, which is now prohibited. MAPP gas torches are hotter than propane and are therefore a better choice for contemporary solder. Most 1/2- to 3/4-in. pipes and fittings only require five to ten seconds of heating with a MAPP gas torch before solder can be fed into them. But proceed with caution. MAPP gas makes it easier to overheat a joint. The joint is overheated if the flux turns black and the solder refuses to flow into the fitting.

What kind of torch do you use for copper pipes?

A propane or MAPP gas torch can be used to solder copper (methylacetylene-propadiene propane). A yellow tank holds MAPP gas, while a blue tank has propane. MAPP gas is normally a little more expensive than propane, but it heats the pipe considerably faster. Propane works OK, but it takes longer—which could be advantageous if you’re new to soldering copper and working with 3/4-inch or 1/2-inch piping. The torch you choose is entirely up to you.

Can butane braze copper?

Is it possible to weld with a butane torch? No, butane torches do not provide enough heat or energy to effectively braze or weld metals.

The metal will not be affected by a butane blowtorch since it does not get hot enough. It’s important to remember that a blowtorch loses 90% of its heat through contact with the air, making it one of the least efficient welding processes without a shield.

What kind of torch do you need for soldering?

A Little Torch is a step up from a butane torch and has a distinct appearance. If you wish to conduct more heat work on larger items than a butane torch can handle, the Little Torch is a wonderful beginner torch. It’s versatile enough to solder both little and large items, including as jump rings and cuff bracelets. Its flame reaches 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit (3,315 degrees Celsius), hot enough to fuse steel up to 1/8 inch thick and melt up to 3 ounces of silver.

The Smith Little Torch is the best name in Little Torches, so if you want to get into soldering, this is the one to get. It’s a two-gas torch with a lot of uses. It works with oxygen and natural gas, as well as acetylene, hydrogen, and propane. (Propane, on the other hand, is advised.)

It comes with 5 different sized tips (#3 through #7) that control the size and heat of the flame. For low flames, use small tips; for larger, hotter flames, use larger tips. To keep tank pressures steady, you’ll need both gas and oxygen regulators.

If you have a little workspace yet need to work on larger pieces, this torch is a perfect option. It’s also lightweight and portable. It’s available on Amazon and Rio Grande’s websites.

Can you solder copper with a propane torch?

Cleaning the metal before soldering is critical for a high-quality junction between the elbow and copper tubing. To brighten the outside of the tube end and the inside of the elbow, I use a fine sandpaper. A sanding sponge or a Scotchbright pad can also be used. Wipe the ends with a clean rag to finish. Any oil, grease, dirt, or dust that may contaminate the soldering process should be avoided.

The elbow should now be softly clamped in the vice with one end pointing up. I prefer to solder tubing into elbows vertically so that gravity aids in the soldering process. Capillary action accomplishes the same goal. Because some elbows feature printing or a brand on one side, temporarily assemble them flat on a workbench before soldering to ensure proper orientation.

Apply a little flux around the tubing’s end and within the elbows’ ends, then press the junction together.

To solder the copper tube together, I used a regular, widely available gas torch. A propane cylinder and a torch can be purchased at any big box home improvement or hardware store. For roughly $20, I bought a kit that included solder, flux, and a little flux brush. One from Home Depot is seen below. This one has an incorporated trigger ignition feature, which could be useful. To light the torch, I just use a welder’s striker or a candle lighter.

Open the propane valve slowly and hold the striker above the torch’s end. Squeeze the device to create sparks that will ignite the propane. To get a beautiful flame, you may need to open the valve slightly. The flame is light blue in strong daylight and can be difficult to discern. The flame is quite hot, so be careful where you point the nozzle’s end. Adjust the valve till the inner blue cone is about 3/4-inch long once you have a flame.

Make sure there are no combustibles in the area before using the flame to uniformly heat the elbow/copper tubing joint. The flame should be directed all the way around the joint. Move the flame away from the joint and touch the end of your solder to the elbow and tubing intersection on a regular basis. If the solder doesn’t melt into the junction after a few minutes, heat it up some more. The solder will be pulled into the junction when it is hot enough. If you pass the flame over the solder, it will melt and drop all over the floor. The following video illustrates how to heat the joint and apply the solder.

You’ll use a torch for brazing just as for soldering.

Because brazing requires higher temperatures than soldering, you’ll want to use an oxygen-acetylene torch, which gets hotter than a MAPP gas or propane torch, though a turbo torch should do for most small-to-medium tasks (thinner copper pipe). It’s also worth noting that MAPP gas is hotter than propane.

Brazing rods resemble straightened metal coat hangers, and they, like solder, get stronger as the proportion of silver in them rises. The flame melts the braze to bind two metals together. Brazing rods comprised of a copper-phosphorous mixture are commonly used to link copper wires. This type of brazing rod melts at 1,190 °C when it contains 6% silver.

You’ll need to heat your lines to the point where they’re practically flaming red while brazing. You must maintain your torch moving at all times while doing this, or you will burn a hole right through the copper tube. You’ll undoubtedly do this several times as you learn to braze.

Also, don’t be a slacker. People will tell you that when soldering, you must thoroughly clean the copper lines, however during brazing, this is not necessary. Listen. In any case, you’ll need to clean your lines. True, any contaminants will be burnt away because to the higher temperatures used in brazing. However, you don’t want carbon leftovers to contaminate your HVAC system. Steel wool, for example, can be used to clean your lines. Once you’ve cleaned the piping, make sure to blow it out.

Because of the high temperatures involved in brazing, your copper lines will oxidize once you’ve finished torching them. In other words, anywhere they are exposed to air, or more accurately, oxygen in the air, little flakes of burned material and soot will accumulate on them. This puts particulates into your cooling or heating system, which should be avoided at all costs.

Can you overheat copper pipe when soldering?

The temperature difference between brazing and soldering is significant. Soldering is a type of brazing that takes place at a lower temperature. Aside from that, the two processes are very similar.

The base metal must be heated to a temperature where the bonding phase between the molten filler and the base metal may occur in both brazing and soldering. Tining is the term for this procedure. Tining cannot take place if the metal being bonded is too cold or too hot.

When brazing or soldering copper pipe, overheating is a big issue since the flux will burn (oxidize), stop functioning, and become a barrier to tinning. Furthermore, a heavy oxide can form on the pipe surface, inhibiting a link between the filler metal and the pipe surface. (See Illustration 1.)