Bulk tanks and the Hot Head Torch

It is my opinion that using a bulk tank and a Hot Head torch is the single most dangerous activity a glassworker can do. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

The Hot Head torch is designed to operate at full tank pressure, which averages around 120 PSI. One crack or one cut in your fuel line and your studio will be filled with an explosive level of fuel. The explosive limit on propane is somewhere around 3-4%, so in an average sized room, it would not take long for the room to reach that limit. “But I keep my tank inside right next to me” you might say. And keeping your tank right next to you MIGHT save you from blowing up with your house, but it is in violation of the NFPA codes and laws, and if there were ever a fire in your building, most likely your insurance company would not pay for any damage and would probably cancel your insurance policy.

You might also say “But glass distributors sell these hoses all the time”. Yes they do. But once again, that doesn’t mean you should use them. The hoses being sold are for use in RV’s, construction work, and other non-code applications. Using a bulk tank and a Hot Head torch is flat out DANGEROUS. There is no safe way to use a bulk tank and a Hot Head torch.

“Can I plumb the fuel line for a Hot Head torch?” NO. NFPA and building codes around the US limit the maximum pressure for a through-the-wall connection to 20 PSI. The Hot Head torch cannot operate at 20 PSI.

The Hot Head torch is a good beginners torch. You can learn the basics of glassworking with it and build up your experience level. And then move on to a oxygen-fuel gas torch. You will find that using an oxygen-fuel gas torch will be hotter, more focused, and use far less fuel. And they are miles away more quieter.