Butane vs. propane torch: Which is better?

Utensils & Tools

Most propane in the United States is a byproduct of natural gas processing. It consists of 9% butane and 1% other miscellaneous gases.

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Are propane or butane torches best? 

Gas torches, both propane and butane, are important tools for people from all walks of life and in various industries. Chefs and tradesmen will find a use for these tools at some point, but non-professionals and homemakers are unlikely to know the differences between the two. Propane and butane torches have their pros and cons and only one of them is the best choice for everyday use.

General similarities and differences

From a usability standpoint, the primary difference between propane and butane torches is their size. Propane torches are much larger to compensate for higher and faster heat, while butane torches are less bulky. Propane tanks often require the use of both hands, one to direct the torch head and the other to hold the cylinder, while a butane torch is a single-hand tool.

If you’re concerned about the environment, you should know that both propane and butane torches are non-toxic and have a relatively clean burn. They have no long-term negative effects on the environment and are safe to use, as long as they are used correctly.

Butane torch

Butane torches are ideal for simple home improvement and cooking projects. They can meld metals and wiring, loosen stuck mechanical fasteners and fix plumbing issues. This torch burns at approximately 2,610 degrees. These torches usually cost between $15-$20 at Amazon.

Butane torch pros

Butane torches give off less carbon monoxide when they burn, having a smaller flame in comparison to a propane torch. A butane torch has a high enough temperature to melt most common metals, such as aluminum and copper, making it a great tool for home repairs. 

The compact and portable shape of the bottle makes it most useful for cooking endeavors. A butane torch can be used to caramelize sugar, brown toppings, char entrees and create flaming cocktails. Tobacco enthusiasts use pocket butane torches as a convenient tool for lighting larger cigars. 

Butane torch cons

While they may give off less harmful gases and be useful in everyday ventures, butane cannot be used in freezing temperatures (30 degrees and below). Butane’s slow burn is nowhere near as high and powerful as a propane torch.

Best butane torches

FunOwlet Kitchen Butane Blow Torch Lighter

FunOwlet Kitchen Butane Blow Torch Lighter

This is a simple blow torch model that can be attached to a standard butane can. It has adjustable heat that can reach up to 2,500 degrees and last up to two hours. It is meant primarily for cooking and can be used with one hand.

Sold by Amazon

Promise Technology Blow Torch Lighter Adjustable Flame Lock

Promise Technology Blow Torch Lighter Adjustable Flame Lock

This butane blow torch comes in either red or black and can be held in one hand. The flame is adjustable from 0.5 to 6 inches. It can be used for welding and soldering, camping, grilling and other culinary activities.

Sold by Amazon

Corkas Butane Torch Professional Culinary Blow Torch Lighter with Safety Lock

Corkas Butane Torch Professional Culinary Blow Torch Lighter with Safety Lock

This butane torch comes in black, red or white and has a lightweight aluminum alloy muzzle. It has a safety lock and a wide base so it can be kept upright. There is a continuous flame mode that can be operated with just one hand.

Sold by Amazon

Propane torch

Propane torches are best for home improvement projects of a larger scale. These are popular tools in construction, manufacturing, and metalworking industries, being best utilized for welding and soldering metals. Although they can be used in large-scale industry projects, propane torches are also tools that can be used in the kitchen, much like butane, but with ventilation restrictions.

Depending on the type of propane torch, it may be able to reach temperatures of over 3,600 degrees. Propane torches cost the same as butane, between $15-$20 at Amazon and Home Depot.

Propane torch pros

With the higher heat and faster burn, propane torches work much faster than butane torches. They can do basic plumbing jobs and are inexpensive options compared to higher-heat alternatives.  Propane has a boiling point of -43 degrees which means that it can work in below-freezing temperatures, unlike butane.

While butane is typically preferred as an indoor cooking torch, propane is the better choice for outdoor grilling. In the winter, butane will not be operable under certain conditions, making propane the obvious choice.

Propane torch cons

Propane burns hotter than butane, with the price of giving off more carbon monoxide. You should never use a propane torch inside unless there is proper ventilation.  Propane torches have a bigger tank, making them less portable than butane torches.

Best propane torches

Bernzomatic Trigger Start Propane Torch

Bernzomatic Trigger Start Propane Torch

This high-heat torch has instant on and off ignition and a continuous flame lock. It has an angled stainless steel burn tube and a flame control valve. The torch can fit in toolboxes, tackle boxes and camping packs.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Bernzomatic Pencil Flame Propane Torch

Bernzomatic Pencil Flame Propane Torch

This propane torch is manually started with a lighter. It has a 0.5-inch pencil flame that is adjustable with a flame control knob. It is best used for small targets in household projects.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Bernzomatic Propane Torch Kit

Bernzomatic Propane Torch Kit

This propane torch kit has a slim fuel cylinder that can fit in toolboxes and tackle boxes. It has a trigger start ignition and has a webbed flame. An adjustable flame knob can control the heat and extinguish the torch.

Sold by Home Depot

Should you get a butane or propane torch?

Considering the two torches and their use, a butane torch is a more reasonable purchase for basic home projects. It is a more compact device and can be used for both cooking and plumbing. Unless you live in a very cold area year-round or are searching for an outdoor grilling tool, a butane torch is a more practical purchase.

 

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Gwen Swanson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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