Propane is a gas that makes for an excellent fuel. It can also be used in welding and cutting tools, because of the heat that it generates. But is propane really that hot when it burns, and does it make sense to use this gas for this purpose?
Propane burns at about 3,560 degrees Fahrenheit (1960 Celsius) or up to 5108 degrees Fahrenheit when used with pure oxygen. However, given that propane is relatively expensive when compared to other fuels, it’s actually its unique thermochemical properties that make it attractive to be used for burning.
Lets take a closer look at propane. Here’s what you need to know.
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Table of Contents
- How Hot Does Propane Burn? How Hot is the Flame?
- Which Burns Hotter Propane Or Natural Gas?
- What’s Cheaper Natural Gas Or Propane?
- Which Is Hotter MAPP or Propane?
- Which Burns Hotter Propane or Isobutane?
- Which Burns Hotter Propane or Propylene?
- Is Propane Hotter Than Acetylene?
- What’s Hotter Than A Propane Torch?
- Can You Melt Copper With A Propane Torch?
- Can Propane Cut Steel?
How Hot Does Propane Burn? How Hot is the Flame?
Propane, when burned in air, will burn at a temperature of around 1,960 degrees Celsius or 3,560 degrees Fahrenheit.
If, on the other hand, it is burned with a pure oxygen mix (as it is in some welding and cutting operations) it will burn even hotter, and the flame can be as hot as 2,820 degrees Celsius or 5,108 degrees Fahrenheit.
That’s an exceedingly hot flame and capable of setting most things that you will commonly encounter in a home or workshop on fire.
As such, propane must be stored carefully and used carefully to avoid propane fires which are highly dangerous.
A standard propane flame is burning in the air and thus will reach about 3,560 degrees Fahrenheit depending on airflow and other local conditions.
What Is The Hottest Part Of A Propane Flame?
The hottest part of a propane flame, assuming you are using a welding torch to create the flame, is at the tip of the inner cone of flame.
(You will find that a propane flame from a torch has two visible cones and it’s the inner one where the heat is highest).
This is a useful thing to know if you’re welding, because it means if you can keep that part of the flame in touch with the weld that you’re going to find it easiest and fastest to create a solid a weld.
You can learn more about propane in this video:
Which Burns Hotter Propane Or Natural Gas?
Neither. In fact, natural gas burns at almost exactly the same temperature as propane does.
However, while both tend to be used as fuels, you won’t find many people welding with natural gas.
Also read: Is Methane Flammable?
What’s Cheaper Natural Gas Or Propane?
Natural gas is much cheaper than propane and that’s why natural gas is used in heating systems in homes, etc.
However, propane releases about twice as much heat per unit of volume as natural gas. That means a compressed propane tank lasts about twice as long as a natural gas one.
This makes propane a better choice for welding, for example, because it allows for more flexibility in movement, etc. without risking the flame due to exhaustion of fuel.
It also means you need less storage space for the propane than you would for natural gas.
Which Is Hotter MAPP or Propane?
MAPP or Methyl Acetylene Propadiene Propane is a mixture of three gases, and it can be used for welding and it may also be used in cooking when a chef is looking to finish off the outside of a substance without significantly affecting the inside.
In fact, it’s one of the best ways to sear a steak, to use MAPP.
It also burns hotter than propane and can give a flame in air of about 600 degrees Fahrenheit above that of propane.
So, why aren’t we all using MAPP for welding and other purposes?
It’s illegal in North America, at least.
MAPP might be great for producing heat but it’s also very unsafe and highly volatile.
You may occasionally see MAPP-Pro for sale but it’s not the same product and it contains a very different percentage of propane in the blend than MAPP had.
We’d also note that while there are definite advantages of using MAPP over propane in some circumstances, MAPP is much more expensive as the lack of North American production since it became illegal has driven prices through the roof.
Which Burns Hotter Propane or Isobutane?
Propane and isobutane are made of the same atoms but arranged differently. They actually burn at very similar temperatures.
However, they perform differently because propane has a much higher vapor pressure than isobutane and a lower boiling point.
That means they tend to be used for different applications.
Propane is a good choice as fuel when working in cold climates whereas isobutane is a better propellant than propane.
Also read: Is Butane Flammable?
Which Burns Hotter Propane or Propylene?
Propylene will burn slightly hotter than propane at a temperature of roughly 50 degrees Fahrenheit greater, in fact.
However, as propylene costs significantly more than propane, it tends to be the choice for specialist welding applications as well as hobbyists (where they aren’t consuming enough material for the price difference to be significant).
It is possible to buy a propylene welding torch which better focuses the heat than a standard propane welding torch, so that you get results faster with the propylene torch than you would with a propane torch even though their heat outputs aren’t significantly different.
Is Propane Hotter Than Acetylene?
No, in fact, acetylene burns at about 300 degrees to 500 degrees hotter than propane depending on the oxygen available to the flame.
Acetylene is thus often preferred to propane when it comes to welding applications. It’s also worth noting that Acetylene will create a “reducing zone” that allows it to be used for gas welding, propane cannot do this and thus, it’s completely unsuited to gas welding.
Propane is probably a better choice for basic brazing than acetylene, but acetylene will handle “braze welding” better than propane.
They can both be used for cutting and they’re both very effective when used properly, however, you will need to use different parts of the flame, depending on which you use, to get the best cut from these gases.
However, for heating purposes, propane’s unusual thermochemical properties mean that it gives off more heat than acetylene even though the flame is cooler.
And while propane is cheaper than acetylene, it’s worth considering oxygen costs as you need more oxygen to burn propane than you do to burn acetylene efficiently.
This video compares the different fuels that can be used for torches:
What’s Hotter Than A Propane Torch?
MAPP, Propylene and acetylene torches will all produce a greater temperature of flame than a propane torch and this is often important for certain applications (in welding and cutting).
However, it’s important to remember that propane flames give off more heat than other flames and thus, if you’re looking at heating applications, propane is often a better choice even if the flame is cooler than with other substances.
Can You Melt Copper With A Propane Torch?
Many sculptors, particularly amateur sculptors, enjoy working with copper because it’s relatively cheap and the finished product looks great.
You can use a propane torch to melt copper for such projects. However, it’s important to remember that this is a project that requires temperatures of over 2,000 degrees.
That means you’re going to want to ensure that you carry out such a project in safe conditions where nothing else can catch fire.
Under no circumstances should a child be involved in a project like this as it is very dangerous and even a small accident could have catastrophic consequences.
We would strongly advise that you invest in safety equipment including high grade Goggles, a leather apron and leather work gloves capable of resisting the temperature of molten copper before attempting this at home or in your workshop.
Also read: Is Copper Flammable?
Can Propane Cut Steel?
Yes, propane can cut steel as long as it is burned with oxygen.
MAPP gas is also a good choice to cut steel with, though, as previously mentioned, it may not be legally available to you.
MAPP substitute gasses are unlikely to reach the kinds of temperature to cut steel and should not be considered as a replacement for propane for this task.
Acetylene is also a viable choice for this task.