Solder Fuel Gas Discussion


With the removal of the 20lb propane tank as the fuel source for the main soldering torch, I just wanted to have a central place for discussion and news on the subject of “the propane situation”.

I’m interested in hearing what the long term plan is to replace the propane.


– Brad

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Hey Brad, I saw that there wasn’t a response yet and I witnessed some of the conversations, so I thought I’d repeat what I heard. The tanks were removed last night both by decision of the board and because they’re not rated for indoor use. The issue was discussed at the 10/19 board meeting. Long term they discussed outdoor storage (propane cage & concrete pad) and @MAtherton was going to look into other options.

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I haven’t been in any of the discussions, but the phrase “not for indoor use” seems to preclude them being used indoors in the jewelry lab, doesn’t it?

I mean, I don’t have an indoor voice and no one’s kicked me out yet.

So, the 20lb “grill” tanks of lpg are not rated for use/storage indoors. 1lb camping tanks can be stored indoors in a certain quantity based on room volume and up to 4 1lb canisters can have effects on them and be in use.

Propane and natural gas are preferred because they are cleaner burning and have a good temperature range. We do have an oxy/act tiny torch rig and it can be used, but it burns hotter/“dirtier” and can be difficult for people to solder jewelry with, especially starting out.

Current plan is to keep the 20lb tanks and build a storage rack for them outside (per regulation) and use them to refill 1lb tanks as needed.


are there any certifications surrounding refilling propane tanks?

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From 20lb to 1lb there is no official certification needed government wise. There probably will be an internal policy/procedure for jewelry area leads /helpers.

Menards sells a 20lbs to 1lb refill kit for $44.

Just to throw in another data point. City Arts uses acetylene and air torches. They have what look like 5lb tanks indoors. Those torches have a pretty wide range of heat and I found them to be semi easy to learn on.

I’m not saying we need to invest in a whole new torch system, just making all options clear.

I appreciate all the work and thought you are putting into the lab @MAtherton. Please let me know if you need any help!

– Brad


The pipeline and hazardous materials safety administration, under the US Department of Transportation unequivocally recommends against refiling one pound propane cylinders (DOT 39 cylinders).

“DOT 39 cylinders, of any size, are strictly non-refillable.”

taken from: STOP! Never refill 1 lb. propane bottles | PHMSA.


Yeah, Thanks for bringing this forward. It is good to stress the hazards of improper procedure when filling any compressed fuel vessel. I am hesitant to say this damns the idea because for a federal entity the wording isn’t particularly strong and the evidence of the incident in the video was from improper filling causing a thermal event and not the tank itself outright rupturing (even though in the video they spend a lot of time on the post-event tank being burst, the voice over makes it clear it was from a leak.)

We still do have the oxy/act setup but still hesitant to make that the only source.

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There are refillable 1lb containers such as this one from Amazon:

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There is always the handheld butane torches!

– Brad