Guide to Hydrogen Torches

Hydrogen Torch Basics

What is a Hydrogen Torch?

An H2O oxyhydrogen torch, whose gas supply is generated by the electrolysis of water, is also known as hydrogen torch or an H20 torch. It burns hydrogen as the fuel with oxygen (the oxidizer). The result is a high-temperature flame used for cutting, welding and shaping various metals, glass, and certain thermoplastics. H2O torches are most commonly used for soldering and brazing jewelry, but are practical in many industrial applications.

 

Advantages of Oxyhydrogen Torches

Soldering with the gas generated by a hydrogen torch is often a cleaner, safer and more economical alternative to using pressurized fuel tanks containing combustable gases. These torches are also easier to set up, use and maintain.  And since so many small shops are prohibited from using and storing pressurized and/or flammable gas tanks, the H2O welder is a great solution.

The H2O torch produces its flame using low-voltage electricity to breakdown distilled water into hydrogen and oxygen gas.

Oxyhydrogen torches are preferred for some types of iron or steel welding, but also because it lends itself to brazing, braze-welding, metal heating (for annealing or tempering, bending or forming), rust or scale removal, the loosening of corroded nuts and bolts, and cutting ferrous metals.

Hydrogen Torch Applications

Common Uses for Hydrogen Torches

  • In the production and repair of fine jewelry, such as necklaces, rings, bracelets, filligree, prescription glasses and other trinkets made from precious metals and gems.
  • To anneal, soften or mold certain metals, typically to increase ductility and reduce internal stresses.
  • To form and polish acrylics. 
  • In the glass industry for fire polishing.
  • In dental applications
  • In automotive repair, to remove a seized bolt for example.

Jewelry making

Industrial and personal applications of the H2O torch in jewelry fabrications are many (e.g., resizing rings, chain repairs, gemstone alterations, fixing damaged prongs and other common soldering tasks.

Annealing

Hydrogen torches are great for annealing metals. When annealing, the metal is heated slowly to a specific temperature and cooled slowly. This process softens the metal, which can be shaped and cut easier. 

Glass Processing

H2O torches are useful for reshaping glass and blending colors while forming stronger types of glass. 

Medical and Dental Devices

The hydrogen torch can be found in dental and clinical health offices because it uses clean fuel and it won’t contaminate sensitive medical devices. The fine pinpoint flame is perfect for very small items like dental appliances, stents and guide wires. 

Plastics

The torch can be used to flame polish edges of plastic sheets.

Other applications include but not limited to:  

  1. Thermocouple repairs and production
  2. Wax castings
  3. Electro-mechanical devices
  4. Transformer soldering where a soldering iron can’t heat the large conductors.

How Do Hydrogen Torches Work?

In order to function, the hydrogen torch relies on two important chemical solutions.

1. Electrolyte Solution

At the heart of the hydrogen torch is its internal water tank. This is where the hydrogen gas used for the flame is produced. The name implies that these torches use only water to operate but this is not the case. H2O torches require a low voltage, high amperage current applied to the water tank to separate the hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Since water is not conductive enough on its own, potassium hydroxide (also known as caustic potash or KOH) is added to the tank in a prescribed ratio. The caustic and water make an electrolyte solution used to produce gas. This solution lasts a long time without compromising performance. 

Always use distilled water in the tank. The impurities found in tap and DI water will contaminate the electrolyte and cause the tank to rust exponentially faster. 

2. Methanol / De-Oxidizer Solution 

While the internal tank creates the hydrogen gas needed to operate the torch, it would be unusable without some type of carrier in the booster tank. Depending on your application you may want to use a different types of de-oxidizing solutions in the booster tank. The most common solution is methanol with or without Boric Acid added.

 

Benefits of Boric Acid:

  1. Provides a reducing characteristic to the flame, which means it helps to de-oxidize the soldering joint much like flux.
  2. Gives the flame its green color, which is much easier to see and work with because hydrogen gas burns colorless. 

Hydrogen Torch Safety

Safety Using the Torch

Hydrogen torches are capable of producing flames with temperatures as high as (3300°C / 6000°F). Obviously, anything that hot can be very dangerous, so safety is of great importance when operating one of these machines. It is recommended to maintain a distance of at least 20 inches between yourself and the flame at all times. 

Filling the Tanks

Be careful when handling the Electrolyte solution as it is very corrosive. Wear protective eyeglasses and gloves whenever handling. the caustic electrolyte and/or boric acid. Should any chemical come in contact with your skin, wash immediately with water. If any solution is spilled on the machine or work area, vinegar can be used to neutralize the solution.

Performing Maintenance

We recommend wearing protective eyeglasses and gloves while cleaning or performing any maintenance tasks on your welder.

Hydrogen Torch Maintenance

Oxyhydrogen torches require routine check-ups along with regular maintenance to continue performing efficiently and reliably. Below is our recommended tasks and maintenance schedule.

Daily

Check fluids and replenish as needed
Check condition of the needle tip

Weekly

Rinse out the booster tank with hot water

Every Six Months

Replace the Booster Seal Gasket and the Booster Handle O-ring.
Flush the caustic tank clean and replace Electrolyte solution

Yearly

Replace the Check valve
Check torch hose for holes and wear
Check torch shut-off and add oil if stuck
Gasket set replacement

Every 3-4 years

After a few years, depending on usage, the machine should undergo a complete technical and operational review. Such work should be performed by skilled technical personnel. At SRA we offer full repair services on all our hydrogen torches.

Contact Us

Questions?

One of our solutions specialists would love to assist you. Please fill out the form and we will get in touch asap!
Providing soldering and brazing solutions 
for more than 50 years.
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