Which torch should I start with? Many people start out using cold connections when making jewellery or other metal items. Once you are ready to try soldering, which torch should you choose?

Torches come in all shapes and sizes, and like chefs’ have favourite knives, we all have our preferences for torches for different reasons. The following information is a simple guide to a beginner’s torch. An easy to access, and inexpensive way to try soldering for the first time. Some brands pictured may not be available worldwide, though I’m sure there are equivalent products in most places.

Safety First

When getting your first torch, consider purchasing a Fire Extinguisher or blanket. Check with your local government for fire safety regulations in your area

A “Microtorch” or small Creme Brulee torch from a kitchen supply shop, are fabulous starter options. They are simple to use and can be less intimidating for first time users. Usually they come with a small replaceable Butane gas cylinder. These torches give enough heat to do small projects like rings, chains, earrings and prong settings.

Some of these small torches have automatic ignition, however that’s not a necessity. They are inexpensive and very portable, which is great if you don’t yet have a permanent workbench or workshop. They are often used by metalsmith teachers and are good for small beginner classes.

One of the limitations of these portable butane torches, is the fact that they do not create a huge amount of raw heat, such as you get from Oxy Propane or Acetylene. You can improve the heat intensity, by soldering on charcoal or torch blocks. These blocks absorb heat, helping your pieces to get hot and your solder to flow.

Linda forms a heat intensive corner with two torch blocks and a charcoal block
Image courtesy of Linda Fountain

Sarah uses two thin blocks, cleverly slotted into a metal holder
Image courtesy of Sarah Hoare

Quick tips for successful soldering

Make sure your metal is clean. If you’re not sure, pop it into the pickle for a quick clean. Ensure the join you are soldering has no gaps, as solder will not fill gaps. Generously cover your piece in borax with a brush. Hold the torch in your non-dominant and clean hand, and slowly heat the entire piece. Once the borax stops fizzing, move in with the hottest part of the flame, the blue part, not the yellow part. Practise on scrap pieces and get to know your flame.

Lastly, don’t forget to pray to the soldering goddesses!

Pricing

There is a culinary torch out there for any budget. They range in features and price, with budget torches starting at around $10usd. Check out these examples from Amazon;

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