Choosing Your Torch

Whether you’re a glassblower yourself, or just interested in the craft, I thought I’d share some of the basics here on the blog.  If you’re a beginner, feel free to use this series as a reference resource!

Glassblowing Basic Tools.jpg

Generally, glassblowing torches use two fuels.  Since I work with borosilicate glass, my torch uses oxygen and a gas – specifically propane, but it may vary depending on torch.  In any case, be sure to use a torch made for flame working glass, and consult the manufacturer for best practices.

There are three basic types of torch: premix, surface mix, and triple mix.  I think they all do what they are designed to do pretty well, but there are some key differences to note in each.

Premix torches bring the gas and oxygen together internally, before they reach the point of ignition.  The benefit of this design is its ability to create a very small, fine flame.  However, it won’t be able to make as large a flame as other designs.

Surface mix torches bring the gas and oxygen together on the outer tip of the torch, at the point of ignition.  This design is arguably safer, as the combustible fuels are kept apart until you’re ready for them to, well, combust.  Unlike the premix design, a surface mix torch is good at creating a large, wide flame, but it won't do well at creating a small, fine flame.

I should mention, there are some torches that combine elements of both a premix and surface mix torch.

Triple mix torches combine the best of both worlds.  This style uses two oxygen controls plus a gas.  By introducing the second oxygen control, they achieve the benefits of premix and surface mix in one torch, allowing for the widest range of flame adjustment.

I would suggest the choice of torch is a matter of the features you are interested in and the price point you are comfortable with.  For my studio, I’ve chosen a triple mix.

BasicsJim Byrnes