Variety is the spice of life, so they say. That often comes in handy when multiple items serve one purpose. So you can work with what’s available when the need arises.
We often interchange fuel gases to serve a basic task. But that’s only partly feasible since all gases have unique properties.
So improvising with camping propane for a soldering project can be a hit or miss, depending on the outcome.
However, despite all its advantages, soldering isn’t one of the uses that camping propone serves. That’s down to its chemical composition, which stops it from getting hot enough to solder metals. So, camping propane burns less hot than a propane torch, which usually contains 2% butane. Thus, you’ll find that camping propane best suits cooking.
Using camping propane to solder metals will be futile if you attempt it. So this article will detail why it’s unfit for soldering projects.
Also, you’ll learn the gas types suitable for soldering and their various applications. You can tell what gas works for certain metal types and sizes.
Can You Solder With Camping Propane?
No. You can’t solder with camping propane. In plain terms, it doesn’t burn hot enough to cause metals to fuse into each other. The best you’ll get is the metals turning red hot.
However, the purpose of soldering is not to get red-hot metals but to fuse them. Also, you’d have spent several cans of gas before the metals reached that point.
While you may see this as a drawback for camping propane, the reality is, in fact, the opposite. The composition of camping propane best suits it for cooking.
You’ll find that it burns without toxic fumes and also cooks evenly. As such, camping propane will only attain mid-range temperatures even at its peak.
However, controlling the flames of camping propane will be a rigorous task if it were to serve both cooking and soldering. That’s because the flames will easily get too hot.
But that’s not a scenario you’ll fancy when working in the kitchen because it’ll spell inconvenience. You’ll have to constantly worry about burning your food.
It makes sense that camping propane falls short in soldering. Also, it’s unfit for other processes that require a high-temperature flame.
Looking at the chemical nature of camping propane, you’d see it contains 2% butane. That’s the major reason it burns less hotter than regular propane.
Butane burns less hot compared to propane. So the 2% present in camping propane lowers the temperature range. The butane content becomes an impurity.
Regarding impurities, both butane and propane don’t release toxic fumes into the environment. In case you’re wondering, they’re very much environment-friendly.
So, while camping propane is unsuitable for soldering, it’s great for cooking. Besides that, it’s also a good heat source when outdoor temperatures drop too low.
What Gas Should I Use for Soldering?
Since various fuel gases have different temperature ranges, your choice will depend on your project scale. You’ll have to match metals to the correct gas to avoid damage.
Else, you’ll only be inviting trouble if you end up with a gas that burns hotter than your metal can handle. Thus it’s helpful to know the metal you’re working with and its melting point.
Ticking that little box will help you choose the right gas for soldering and help you complete your project.
The table below shows some common metal types and their melting points to help you choose the right fuel gas for them.
|Metal||Melting Point (°F)|
There is a wide range of fuel gases, but your choice depends on your application.
Although butane, propane, hydrogen, natural gas, MAP-Pro, and acetylene are the most common choices. Please, note that the gases line up in order of increasing temperatures.
Also, it’s important to note that these gases burn hottest when you add oxygen to the flames. So, you’ll get lesser temperatures when you burn them in the air.
That’s because air contains other gases which will act as impurities and lower the temperature range.
The table below shows some common gas fuels, suitable soldering applications, and their maximum temperatures with oxygen added to the flames.
|Fuel||Maximum Temperature (°F)||Applications|
|Butane (oxygen)||3578||Soldering electric circuits.|
|Propane (oxygen)||5108||Small soft soldering jobs.|
|MAP-Pro (oxygen)||5396||Brazing and light welding.|
It’s important to note that your fuel choice depends mostly on the metal you’re working with. So, the fuel you opt for shouldn’t burn far above the metal’s melting point.
Rather, the fuel gas should burn within the metal’s melting point. So you soften the metal enough to work with it instead of making a hole.
Should You Use Propane or Acetylene for Soldering?
Opting for acetylene or propane in soldering depends on the nature of the work you want to do. As noted earlier, you should be conscious of the metal you’re working with.
Right off the bat, you’ll notice that acetylene is far hotter than propane. Acetylene (oxygen) gets up to 5612°F compared to propane (5108°F) in the same medium.
You can see that both fuels burn at very high temperatures. Thus, many may favor acetylene since high temperatures are vital in soldering.
However, the temperature range alone doesn’t define the decision between these two fuels in soldering. We’ll look at more factors to consider when making your choice.
Next, we can consider the safety of the fuels. In this case, propane is safer than acetylene because it’s less combustible.
Acetylene ignites in mixtures containing 2.5% to 85% acetylene. But propane only ignites in mixtures containing 2.1% to 9.5% propane.
Thus, the relative safety of propane gas makes it a better choice for people with little experience in soldering. Although both gases require great care when using them.
Also, propane comes top in terms of availability and price. You can easily grab a can of propane gas from your neighborhood supply store.
But the story is different for acetylene. You’ll have to buy it at a welding or gas supply store. That alone will tell you that it won’t come cheap.
So, acetylene tends to be pricey due to its seemingly exclusive nature. But propane is easier to come by and also more affordable.
Finally, using acetylene to solder requires good knowledge of soldering and some experience. That’s why we noted earlier that propane suits beginners best.
As a beginner, you have better chances of completing a project successfully with propane than with acetylene.
In fact, in skilled hands, the results of soldering with propane can match those of acetylene.
With all these factors, the choice ultimately lies in how the gases suit one’s application and materials. So, ensure you consider the project at hand before making a choice.
What is the Difference Between MAPP Gas and Propane?
The major difference between MAPP gas and propane is in their composition. MAPP stands for methylacetylene, propadiene, and propane, representing its constituents.
In MAPP gas, the composition of the constituent gases is 48%, 23%, and 27% for methylacetylene, propadiene, and propane, respectively.
Although MAPP gas was a trademark product, it’s no longer available on the market. That’s because its producers deemed it unsafe for soldering as it burned slightly too hot.
However, they worked on the flaws and replaced MAPP gas with an improved gas, MAP-Pro. The new product now contains 99.5% propylene and 0.5% propane.
On the other hand, propane gas comprises propane molecules only. Thus, the contrast in their composition also accounts for significant physical differences.
In that regard, MAPP gas flames burnt at 5396°F in the air, which was very hot. So, adding oxygen to the flames would raise the value well over 7000°F.
So, the temperature range was unsuitable for most soldering applications.
On the other hand, propane burns at 3600°F in air and at 5108°F when you add oxygen to the flames. Thus, it turns out to be a better choice compared to MAPP gas.
Overall, propane beat MAPP gas in terms of safety and convenience. But in recent times, MAP-Pro has been a preferred choice as it has more convenient features than propane.
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