Acetylene vs. Propane: The Pros and Cons

Oct 19, 2018

Talk to any welder about what they want from their welding tools and they will probably tell you they prioritize heat, efficiency, versatility and clean cuts, depending on what type of welding they are specifically looking at.

Acetylene has been the cutting fuel of choice for years among welders. But as the cost of acetylene goes up, you can check any welding forum and you will find heated debaters questioning whether acetylene is truly better than the many alternatives out there, such as propane, for welding purposes. At Vern Lewis Welding Supply, Inc., we offer both acetylene and propane refills in Phoenix, AZ, so we want to point out the pros and cons of each so you can make an informed decision about which option best meets your needs.


One of the main arguments for acetylene is that it burns hotter. With welding, people will often argue that hotter is better. However, does acetylene actually burn hotter? The simple answer to this question is yes. The maximum neutral flame for acetylene in oxygen is about 5720 F, while the temperature for propane is 5112. This does not, however, mean that propane gives off less heat.

Acetylene may burn hotter and can even pre-heat metal faster. However, with the proper knowledge, parts and setup, propane can actually match or even outperform acetylene. Obviously, there are a lot of variables involved. The question is not which option is best, but which option is best for you depending on the type of work you want to do and the equipment you want to use.


One of the main arguments for propane is that it’s safer than acetylene. Again, looking at the numbers, this would appear to be so. Acetylene will ignite at mixtures from 2.5 percent to 82 percent, while the range for propane is 2.1 percent to 9.5 percent. Based off of these numbers, it’s easy to argue that propane is much safer to use than acetylene. However, keep in mind that these are both flammable gases, and both need to be handled with care. The same safety precautions should be used, regardless of which option you choose.


Finally, we have to discuss the mighty dollar, which is often the biggest influencer in many business decisions. Particularly in recent years, acetylene has become more difficult to obtain, which drives the cost up. Propane, on the other hand, is easily attainable and more stable for storage, which makes it more affordable. In fact, it is the ever-growing difference in price between these two welding fuels that has many in the industry considering making the switch from acetylene to propane.

If you are still not sure which welding fuel is best for you, talk to our experts at Vern Lewis Welding Supply, Inc. Our staff will be happy to help you decide which fuel is best for your specific needs. We offer both acetylene and propane refills in Phoenix, AZ, so no matter which fuel you decide to go with, we’re happy to help!

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