Acetylene or Propane?

If you asked me then it would be a “No Brainer”.

I would choose Propane every time and in this article I will tell you this is why………..

1.Propane gas is a much safer gas to use because it is more stable than Acetylene. By this I mean that Propane is a liquid when it is stored under pressure and evaporates into a gas when the valve is opened.

Acetylene is very unstable and is constantly bubbling when its in the bottle. If the bottle is laid down on its side it must be returned to an upright position and left for at least a day before it can be drawn off.

Even an old bottle with very little left in it is very dangerous. I heard a safe handling of bottles examiner say that he didn’t understand why we still use Acetylene. “It was a bomb waiting to go off” he said.

2. Costs of renting a bottle from the cylinder companies is rocketing too.You should have a rental agreement to have a large bottle of Acetylene where as Propane might cost you about £20 for the first bottle but after that there should be no rental to pay from companies such as Calor Gas. BOC propane is charged out on a monthly rental so be careful where you get your gas. Shop around.

So unless you are constantly braising or gas welding then Propane is the way forward (especially if like me you just use it for gas cutting or heating)

Here is an extract from the HSE about Acetylene Gas

Acetylene cylinder explosion

 An operator was lighting an oxy /acetylene cutting torch. There was a flash back to the acetylene cylinder, which started to vibrate. Three minutes later the cylinder exploded. The cylinder split into two parts. The largest part shot through a window and travelled 23 metres before embedding itself in an embankment at the factory boundary.The workshop was badly damaged. The windows were blown out and the roof collapsed. The explosion also lifted the roof of the main factory building, which had to be replaced. The cost of the damage was over £1 million. Fortunately, no-one was injured, because the operator realised that the cylinder was in a dangerous condition. He raised the alarm and the factory was immediately evacuated.

What went wrong?

Acetylene is an extremely flammable gas. It is different from other flammable gases because it is also unstable. Under certain conditions, it can decompose explosively into its constituent elements, carbon and hydrogen.The operator did not fully appreciate the hazards of acetylene.

He did not follow the recommended procedures or take adequate precautions. In particular:

The correct lighting up procedure was not followed. The gas hoses were not purged. The acetylene gas was not at the correct pressure. The gas cylinders were not protected with flashback arresters. A flashback can occur …if there is a flammable mixture of fuel gas and oxygen in the hoses when the torch is lit. If it is not stopped, the flame will ignite the mixture and will travel backwards from the torch, along the hoses, through the regulator and into the cylinder. A flashback can trigger decomposition of the acetylene in the fuel hose, in the regulator and in the cylinder itself. Health and Safety Executive Take care with acetylene HSE Health & Safety Executive 1 of 5 pages. This is a web-friendly version of leaflet INDG327.

Please do your own research

As with all my articles, I encourage you to do your own research into these subjects. These articles are my own point of view and are not intended to be advice in any way.

Acetylene Gas
Propane Gas

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