Whether you are welding, brazing, soldering, searing – or even stripping paint – a gas torch can be a useful addition to a home garage. There are simply some tasks, such as welding, that cannot be completed without one of these useful tools.
A propane gas torch can be the way to go. Propane is one of the safer gases to work with, with a lower flammability point than many others, whilst still delivering a flame of up to around 3,000 Fahrenheit.
There are a range of different makes and models on the market today. These days, even a small propane torch can still deliver excellent high temperature flames, so choosing the right model is more important than ever – you really can have a high degree of power right in the palm of your hand, so you need to trust the torch you’ve bought to handle it.
Our guide to the best models, plus our useful buying guide and FAQ will help you select the right tool for you.
The Best Propane Torch
Our first model is this beauty, from Bernzomatic and, lets go in early; it is a very well designed tool packing a lot of useful features.
First up is that extremely handy automatic ignition. As we’ll see as we go through the list, not as many propane torches as you would imagine come equipped with auto ignition, so it’s great to see it in place here. It basically just means that you don’t have to search around for your spark lighter all the time – just pull out your torch, click a button to light it up and away you go.
The flame this model can generate is also extremely impressive. This torch uses a swirl flame technique, something only really seen on premium models. This type of flame gets extremely hot, around 3,000 Fahrenheit, helping to make the most of the propane propellant.
Auto Start Ignition
Swirl Style Flame for High Heat Output
Sturdy, Aluminum Construction
- Weight1.2 lbs
Easy to Ignite
Can only be Hooked up to Smaller Tanks
Not Painted like a Dragon
So this item here is actually manufactured by a company called Red Dragon, and it is still not painted or decorated to look like one (seriously, they should let us do the marketing for these tools).
What we have here is the first of several multi-use style propane torches that we will have on the list. That long handle makes it perfect for burning out weeds and other ground levels applications. It generates a heat of 2,000 Fahrenheit, so it’s toward the lower end of the heat scale – but still a useful amount, and could be used for the usual vehicle related functions like soldering and light welding.
It’s also a complete propane torch kit, including a striker lighter. That is actually pretty useful, as it can be an item many people forget to pick up when they buy their first torch.
A price tag of over 50 bucks does make this one of the more expensive items on the list – however, it certainly is well a well-equipped tool.
Comes with Hose, Burner Head Unit & Striker Lighter
Hand Tightened Tank Fitting
Generates up to 2,000 Fahrenheit
- BrandRed Dragon
- ModelVT 2-23 C
- Weight3.7 lbs
Hooks up to Larger Tanks for Long Term Use
Mid Level Heat Generation
This is another multiuse torch, and one of the larger on the list, with a weight of over 7 pounds. Whilst it does come with a very well designed and ergonomic handle, that weight is perhaps going to make accurate burns that little bit harder after a while.
Hot Max have, in common with some other manufacturers on this list, decided to give the heat output for this torch in BTU. This stands for British Thermal Units, and very simply, one BTU is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one Fahrenheit.
Suffice to say this is a pretty powerful torch. It has two burn levels too, which is useful. A standard burn will generate a good flame, whilst a small trigger on the handle can be depressed for the very cool sounding “Turbo Flame” which will knock the torch into overdrive.
All in all then, one of the heavier torches on the list, but if pure power is your main consideration it may be worth a look.
- BrandHot Max
- Weight7.33 lbs
Comfortable to Hold
No Built in Auto-Lighter
This small propane torch from Worthington has quite a few interesting points of note. First off, as we said, it’s pretty small, being about 10 inches tall and weighing in at less than 3 ounces. In addition to that it’s also the cheapest item on the list.
So it’s small and cheap. In addition, it has a auto trigger lighter built in, so it’s easy to ignite, whilst the small dial controls propane flow, so it’s easy to use. That small size also makes accurate burns nice and easy, and this torch would be perfect for small soldering jobs for example.
On the downside, it’s an overall pretty basic model, with less than premium level construction and build materials – it’s not a high end hand held torch such as the one found at the top of the list.
That being said, it is a well-designed little tool, and frankly you are getting a lot for a relatively small amount of money.
Trigger Auto Ignition
Stainless Steel Tube
- Weight2.24 oz
Small & Light
Easy to Use
Built In Auto Lighter
Very Basic Design
Not Premium Materials
Our next model is another representative from the Multi-Use section of propane blowtorch. What we have here is one of the long necked variations of torch, though this one is a little smaller than some of the others, with a total weight of about 3 pounds.
Don’t let that fool you into thinking it is going to be underpowered however, with the neat little tool able to generate a heat as high as 3,000 Fahrenheit. It hits those heights with the help of a flame booster, activated by the large trigger built into the insulated, and fairly comfortable, handle.
The torch head is a little on the wide side, meaning that the flame itself is consequently a little wider than some that can be found on the list. That makes it well suited to jobs where you need to apply heat over a wider area, but you may struggle with smaller, intricate welds and solders.
Turbo Blast Trigger
Heats up to 3,000 Fahrenheit
- Weight3 lbs
Handle Mounted Boost Trigger
Durable Steel Design
High Heat Generation
Difficult to Achieve Accurate Burns
Our second entry from Red Dragon, and this is a propane torch that will appeal to some, and put off others. The main reason for this is that it is a very simple, straightforward design. No trigger for boost mode, no auto ignition, and no swirl flame. Just hook it up to a 20-pound (or bigger) tank, light it up with the bundled striker device and away you go.
In operation, it produces a very powerful flame, and the well-designed 3-inch head does a good job of keeping the burn area nice and tight – though just as with any of the larger Multi-Use models, it will be tougher to achieve accuracy for smaller jobs.
Very well made (right here in the USA) of good quality stainless steel, this is clearly a well put together, very solid tool. It is however one of the more basic models on the list, whilst also boasting one of the highest prices.
Generates 500,000 BTU
Includes Striker Lighter
- BrandRed Dragon
- ModelVT 3-30 C
- Weight3.65 lbs
Simple to Use
Quite a Basic Design
This is our second entry from Bernzomatic and it is, to say the least, something of a quirky design. It isn’t, as it might seem at first glance, a modern update of Charlie Chaplin’s walking stick.
Instead, what we have here is a cool mixture of the Multi-Use and hand held models, with a smaller propane torch head at the end of an extended pipe that feeds directly into a smaller propane bottle connected directly to the device.
In one sense that gives this model a kind of “best of both words” design aspect. You have the smaller flame for more accurate burns as typically seen on hand held models, with the large size for easier use in a variety of applications as seen on Multi-use.
It’s certainly an interesting, if slightly underpowered, design.
20,000 BTU Heat Generated
Adjustable Flame Control
- Weight1 lb
Flame Control is Easy
Light & Hand Held Design
The fact a model lacks auto ignition will make more or less difference to different people when they are selecting their model of propane gas torch. Whatever you feel about this however, if a torch is being sold as a kit and comes bundled with a striker style lighter, then you want that lighter to be good quality.
No such joy here, so do anticipate picking up a new striker sooner rather than later – though in truth, they’re not so expensive or hard to find.
Apart from that issue though, this is all in all a pretty decent torch from the Multi-Use end of the design spectrum. It’s very simple, another of the plug and play varieties with no controls – including for a booster trigger – mounted on the device. Simply plug in, light it up and adjust the flow directly via the small valve on the torch bottom.
What it may lack in refined features however it more than makes up for in raw power.
Works with 20 Pound (or Bigger) Tanks
Generates Up To 500,000 BTU
- ModelMT 5000
- Weight3.9 lbs
Long Gas Hose
Lacks Auto Ignition
No Booster Trigger
Bundled Striker is Rubbish
Our penultimate model is a bit of a mixture of torches that have come before on the list. So, on the one hand we have a nice wide, steel constructed nozzle that is connected to a very thin flow valve/pipe – also of steel construction.
That is the kind of design we’ve seen on the more basic versions of these models. However, we also have a really well designed, ergonomic handle, with flow control. That is a very good feature to see, as it places flow – and so flame power – control right into the palm of your hand.
This gas torch is also capable of generating a flame with a temperature of up to 3,000 Fahrenheit, making it one of the more powerful on the list. Without beating the same drum, just bare in mind these types of torch may not be the most accurate with that heat.
Also note this model lack a built in auto ignition, and also does not come bundled with an external, striker style lighter.
Steel Construction in Nozzle
Insulated Ergonomic Grip
Heat to Up to 3,000 Fahrenheit
- Weight2.5 lbs
Long Gas Tube
No Auto Ignition or Striker
Our final model and it’s another product from Red Dragon, still happily ignoring their own company name. This model is another variation on Chaplin’s walking stick. Just like the version we saw earlier then, this makes for a model with a wide range of uses and functions.
This model is a bit more of premium design than the one we looked at earlier however. Whilst that does mean we have a higher price point, we also have a number of useful features built in.
The flame in particular is a step up. Not only is it more powerful, it is also easily adjustable and also remarkably accurate. The torch comes bundled with a decent quality striker to get it started, and it runs off of 1 pound canisters that are easy to attach.
Those canisters do keep the overall weight down, meaning this really is a true hand held model, but do bear in mind that 1 pound of propane is not going to give a particularly long burn time.
Hand Held Model
- BrandRed Dragon
- ModelVT 1-32 C
- Weight2.4 lbs
Easy to Use
Small, Accurate Flame
1 Pound Gas Canisters
Best Propane Torch Buying Guide & FAQ
It’s pretty obvious from our list that there is a wide variety in the types of models currently on the market. Everything from small and accurate propane torches to big beasts you could use to storm a World War 2 bunker, there is a lot of variety out there.
We’re just going to go through a few of the features of the different types, and then tackle some of the most frequently asked questions about these models. Stick with us, and we’ll light a fire for propane torches.
Features To Consider When Choosing The Best Propane Torch
These are the main features to consider when making your decision. The more features, typically the higher the price – but also the better job it could end up doing for you.
Swirl Style Flame – A premium model will employ a swirl style of flame. This type of flame gets much hotter in a smaller area, allowing for high accuracy for precision weld and solders without affecting performance.
Turbo Boost Trigger – usually found on larger models, a boost trigger is an easy way to quickly increase the gas – and therefore flame power. It’s easier and more convenient than having to fiddle with the supply knob, especially if it’s mounted on the tank connector valve.
Auto Ignition – Click a button, get a flame. Faster and more convenient than the old fashioned, external Striker style of ignition.
Construction Material – Either Steel or Aluminum will be employed in the construction of the pipe and torch head. Both are fine, but premium models will usually employ aluminum, as it’s a little bit lighter.
How to Properly Use a Propane Torch
One of the key elements of using a torch is getting the sucker lit up in the first place. After all, without a flame at the end, a propane blowtorch is just a fancy metal tube.
Naturally, since you’re here on Car Bibles you’re probably checking out a propane torch to use on your car. In that case, the use is probably going to be limited to welding and soldering – here’s a great guide to welding from Popular Mechanics.
Safety Precautions When Using a Propane Torch
A propane torch puts a lot of power straight into your hand – the power of fire! But it doesn’t really take much in the way of safety precautions to keep you safe – apart from common sense of course.
So just make sure you:
1) Wear safety equipment
2) Work in a well lit and well ventilated area
3) Adjust the flame so it is appropriate for the work you’re doing
4) Be aware of flammable materials in your workspace
5) Always be aware of the propane tanks location, as well as any connecting cables or pipes.
Got a question about propane torches?
Q: What Can The Propane Torch be Used For?
A: As we mentioned above, if you’re buying this tool to use on your car it will probably be used for welding and soldering.
They can have other uses however, such as loosening tight or rusty bolts, melting snow and ice off the driveway (how cool will you look doing that? Very cool is the answer) and even tackling stubborn weeds in the yard.
Check out this video guide here which outlines some of the other uses that a propane torch can be put too.
Q: Is it Safe Buying a Propane Torch Online?
A: Of course! Just make sure you buy one with the flame strength appropriate to the task you want to complete, with the types of control and tank hook up you feel confident using.
Q: What Temperature does a Propane Torch Burn At?
A: It depends which model you go for of course, but a propane torch can reach a temperature of a little over 3,000 Fahrenheit.
Q: Why is My Propane Torch Ticking?
A: A ticking or pinging sound is usually an indicator of an uneven mixture of propane and air. It could also be a faulty valve.
Either way, the issue lies with the propane tank, not the torch, so contact the manufacturer or supplier of the tank for a replacement.
Our Top Pick
You’re going to have to scroll all the way back to the top of the list, because the best product on it is right at the top of the tree – Item Number 1, the Bernzomatic TS8000.
For our money (and yours) no other product on this list so successfully combined ease of use with such a powerful (and therefore useful) flame. It also boasted an excellent construction of robust materials meaning it should give you a nice long life span. All that and it’s not even the most expensive product on the list should amply illustrate why it’s Number 1.