I get asked all the time what my favorite tool is in my shop, and I have to admit it’s my oxy acetylene torch.
Where else do you get to play with fire, cut solid steel like a hot knife through butter, and just generally pretend to be a bad ass for a moment in time.
That’s why I love using the oxy acetylene cutting torch!
Every Hobbyist Should Go Through An Acetylene Cutting Torch Safety Training Course
When I first used a cutting torch I will be honest, I was a little afraid to light it. I wasn’t sure if I was doing everything right, and I had read stories of people blowing themselves up because they didn’t know what they were doing.
I had a lot of good reason to be cautious. An acetylene cutting torch is not a toy, and it can hurt you if you don’t know what you’re doing.
I’m not trying to scare you. I just want you to have a big dose of respect for an acetylene cutting torch setup because it is the most dangerous piece of equipment in your shop.
Follow this acetylene cutting torch safety training I’ve put together and you won’t have anything to worry about.
You can do so much with a cutting torch like bend metal, cut metal, cut shapes, and even do oxy acetylene welding.
In the following content I’m going to show you all the safety tips you need to follow, and I’m also going to give you some advice for lighting your torch, and getting your oxy acetylene flame set correctly.
Acetylene Cutting Torch Safety Training Tips
1. NEVER Clean the connections with oil or grease!
To start with I want to talk about the oxygen cylinder and regulator in the picture. The oxygen cylinder is the one on the right.
NEVER clean any of your connections with oil or grease! If you want to clean your regulator or the connections then use a soapy water mixture.
Why? Pure oxygen can combust if it comes in contact with oil or grease, even without a flame.
2. NEVER turn acetylene cylinder on its side!
When an acetylene cylinder gets turned on it’s side it can cause a couple of problems you want to avoid.
There is not just acetylene gas inside this cylinder. There is also acetone inside that acts as a stabilizer for the acetylene, and when the cylinder is upright the acetone sinks to the bottom.
When you turn the bottle on it’s side the acetone has the potential to leak out and damage the regulator and torch.
Don’t worry though… If you ever do turn your acetylene on it’s side then just set it upright for a few hours to let the acetone settle.
3. Always use caps when transporting
This is important, especially for the oxygen cylinder since it is a high pressure cylinder. Oxygen comes from the supplier at a pressure of 2300 PSI.
If you drop that cylinder and knock off the valve then all of that pressure will be shooting out of a hole the size of a nickel. Have you seen the Hunt For Red October? That’s what you’ll be reliving if you’re not careful.
4. NEVER turn acetylene past 15 PSI
On the working pressure side of the acetylene regulator you can see a red marker telling you note to go past 15 PSI.
This is because when you start drawing that amount of acetylene out the gases in the bottle can become unstable. You won’t ever have to go that high anyways.
Most of the time you’ll be working between 3-7 psi on the acetylene regulator.
5. Check for leaks before lighting
You can use soapy water and just put it on all the connections from the regulator to the torch, and if you see bubbles then you know you have a leak.
You can also buy a liquid leak detector like this Snoop detector I use.
All you do is go from connection to connection and squeeze a little liquid out and when it bubbles then you know you need to tighten the connection.
6: Crack the valves before using
This is important because you don’t want dust or any other unknown things getting inside your regulator. This can cause problems down the road.
So, just crack open the cylinders slowly until a little gas comes out and then close it. This will blow out any contaminants that might be in the valve.
7. Open oxygen bottle slowly
Like I said before, there is over 2000 psi of pressure in an oxygen cylinder, so make sure you open it slowly. Don’t go cranking it open because if you do you can damage the regulator.
That’s a lot of pressure hitting the regulator, and if you open the flood gates too quickly you can damage them.
8. Never open the acetylene cylinder more than half a turn
This is simply a safety precaution in case you ever need to quickly shut off the acetylene.
9. Always back out on your regulators when you’re finished
When you turn on your acetylene cylinder half a turn, you aren’t done. Next you need to tighten down on your regulator so you can get the working pressure where you want it.
Essentially you’re opening up the regulator so that the gas flows to the cutting torch. If you don’t back out on the regulators when you’re finished using them then the next time you open your cylinders you will be slamming them with pressure.
10. Don’t be afraid of your cutting torch
With all this safety stuff behind us, let’s get to the real reason you are using a cutting torch. To have fun!
Once you practice turning on and turning off your oxy-acetylene cutting torch setup a few times, you will be comfortable enough so that you can enjoy what you’re doing.
Don’t freak out about all the safety tips I shared with you. I really just emphasize how dangerous it can be if you don’t know what you’re doing.
It really is a great tool, and if you practice these safety tips then you won’t have a problem.
3 Quick & Easy Steps To Lighting Your Torch
Remember that before you light your torch you need eye protection because the flame is too bright to see with your eyes.
A set of $5 cutting torch goggles will do the trick.
1. Light the acetylene flame first
When you light the acetylene flame you will see an orange flame. You will also see a good amount of black smoke produced from the acetylene flame.
You want to reduce this black smoke as much as possible, so turn up the acetylene flame enough so that a good amount of the black smoke goes away. It won’t all go away, but try to minimize it.
2. Introduce the oxygen
Once the acetylene flame has been lit you can introduce the oxygen. When you do you will hear the noise get a little louder, and the flame will turn blue/white.
3. Create a neutral flame
When you turn on the oxygen you will see two distinct flames. One is a lighter outer flame, and the other is a much brighter inner flame that looks like a cone.
What you need to do is turn on the oxygen enough so that that cone goes all the way back to the tip of the torch. This is called the neutral flame, and once it’s set then you’re ready to start cutting.