Can You Put Butane In A Propane Torch? (Find Out Now!)
If you’ve ever done DIY welding, then you’re familiar with torches. There are several kinds of torches on the market these days, and a range of fuels are used to power torches. Moreover, some torches generate extremely high heat while others generate heat that’s still high but less intense.
Aside from specific torches that are used for specific tasks, the two most common torches are butane-fueled torches and propane-fueled torches. Because both torch types are so common, it’s often asked if butane can be put in a propane torch. Such is the main question this article answers.
Yes, you can put butane in a propane torch, but there’s really not a lot of benefit to doing so. If you want to take advantage of the propane torch’s shape, that’s fine. Even so, you should instead have two separate torches, one butane and one propane. This way you’re not mixing accelerants and creating a mess in the process.
Butane vs. Propane
While butane and propane torches are used for essentially the same purpose, there are some notable differences between the two torches. These differences are explained in the section below. Go through them so you know which torch is best for the task at hand.
When butane is ignited, it can reach a maximum temperature of around 2,400°F. Propane, on the other hand, can get as hot as 3,600°F when ignited. Butane torches are sufficient for most at-home welding jobs, but if your job requires more heat, you can get this from using a propane torch.
Butane torches and propane torches may operate similarly, but they’re not shaped the same. A propane torch has a head that curves inward, whereas a butane torch has a straight head.
The propane torch is shaped this way so the flame can be concentrated closer to the material. The closer the flame is to the material, the more precise the torch can be. Higher concentration will also increase the temperature. On the other hand, using a torch from far away will lower the temperature of the flame.
Unlike propane torches, butane torches are equipped with a trigger, and this component can adjust how much heat is generated.
Since butane torches are more compact and portable, they’re used to easily carry out the majority of at-home welding tasks. With that said, some tasks require extremely high heat, and for these tasks it’s best to use a propane torch.
A butane torch can solder metals like silver, dry wet clay and cement, and effectively shrink tubing and wiring. And when it comes to convenience, modern butane torches are unmatched. To use a propane torch, you’d have to wear the propane tank like a backpack or hold it with one hand.
Because of the high heat and the precision of the flame, you should really only use a propane torch if you’re welding heavy metals. But there are times at home when using this torch may be necessary.
Since the butane torch is more convenient than the propane torch, one might say that the butane torch is superior. But this isn’t to say that the propane torch is useless. It’s just that a butane torch can be used to do a lot more.
Think of when a chef uses a butane torch to light the sugar at the top of a dessert, like what is done with crème brûlée. Propane torches, on the other hand, can be used in the garden, and some assert that these tools are much better at killing weeds than chemicals are.
Why Butane and Propane Are Used
While butane and propane torches both generate extremely high heat, butane is a cleaner fuel, which means burning it doesn’t release as much carbon monoxide into the air. Even still, prolonged exposure to the fumes can be dangerous.
If you’re undertaking a large welding task, it’s best to do this outside. But don’t attempt to weld outside if it’s too cold, as butane torches don’t work well in the cold. The boiling point of butane is about 30.2°F, so if the temperature is lower than this, the gas won’t light. Propane’s boiling point, on the other hand, is -43.6°F.
Both torches can be used to weld metal. Although propane torches are best for welding heavy metal, this isn’t to say you can’t use a butane torch to weld heavy metal. You can, it’s just that it’ll take longer and you’ll have to weld in a specific way.
Both torches are good at soldering as well. To solder is to join two pieces of metal, but wires and circuits can also be soldered. Of course soldering small wires is a task best left to the butane torch, as the propane torch could actually melt the wires; also its flame would be too large.
Loosening Stuck Nuts
If you’re dealing with a stuck nut, you can heat the bolt, as doing so will probably make the nut come off easily. Just make sure you don’t heat the nut too much, as too much heat could cause it to break.
If you’re undertaking a plumbing project and you need to sweat pipes and/or join metal fittings, then using a torch is a good idea. You can use a propane torch to get this done quickly, or a butane torch if you’re not comfortable with using a propane torch. Of course the latter torch will take longer.
Butane is often used by chefs, and not just for browning dessert before it’s served. A butane torch can also be used to sear meat.
And if you want to join pieces of jewelry back together, using butane is a good move. Butane torches work well on soft metals like gold, silver, and copper.
If you’re dealing with alloy metals, you should use a propane torch. That’s because propane can get hotter than butane, and really high heat is needed to melt alloy metals.
Matt loves everything DIY. He has been learning and practicing different trades since he was a kid, and he's often the first one called when a friend or family member needs a helping hand at home. Matt loves to work with wood and stone, and landscaping is by far his most favorite pastime.
More by Matthew Mountain