For individuals who enjoy welding and fabrication, some basic knowledge and safety precautions become critical. Especially if you are newer to welding or haven’t learned all the ins and outs and best practices. It’s normal for this to happen and for you to naturally have questions about certain safety measures that you can take.
One of the questions that arise frequently is concerning torch tanks and proper practice. Can torch tanks be used on their side? After some digging and being around this trade for many years, here is what I can tell you on this topic.
So, can torch tanks be used on their side? No, torch tanks should not be used on their side. When torch tanks are laid on their side, acetylene can accumulate near the valve and begin to leak from the stem. Acetylene and acetone will separate when tanks are laid on their side. Always allow 1-hour minimum for your tank to sit upright before use.
Additionally, acetylene and acetone will separate when put in a horizontal position. If a tank should be transported or laid on its side always allow 1-hour minimum for your tank to sit upright before use.
Many individuals still raise debates and have questions regarding using torch tanks on their side. It’s understandable. Anything that can impact our ability to finish the task we are looking to complete and anything that can cause potential harm is something to take seriously.
In this post, I want to detail some more information that’s important to understand about the proper uses of torch tanks and how to always be executing best practices and remaining safe during the transportation and actual use.
Let’s dive into the details.
More About Torch Tanks and Upright Usage
Like I stated before, torch tanks should only be used from the upright position. Not laying on their sides or resting in any other position. It’s also essential than when torch tanks are in use that they are stored on a cylinder cart and secured by a chain to a workbench or other fixture in the workshop.
This helps to ensure that the tank can’t be knocked over on its side and eliminates further hazards and safety concerns.
Using Torch tanks on their sides can pose several problems. First, typically the gas will build up near the valve from laying in this position and can begin to leak or potentially break the seal if used too soon which is your first cause of concern like we stated before.
Acetone contained in torch tanks needs to settle to the bottom of your tank before use. A significant factor many individuals are not aware of is that when the acetone is not settled to the bottom of the cylinder and the tank is used, the tank can release both the acetone and gas from the lines.This alone can become a quick-fire hazard and potentially even explode if you are not careful.
Other Important Safety Tips and Best Practices
I wanted to take a moment to cover a few other tips you can exercise when first putting your torch tank to use. We are already aware at this point in this post to use the tank upright only.
If the tank was transported on its side, allow the tank to sit upright for at least 1 hour before use. Some recommend longer. 1 hour is enough time to let the acetone settle back down to the bottom of the cylinder.
Additionally, you don’t want to freely open the valve and open to the max level. Not without checking a few things first at least. Here are some additional steps you can take to ensure your safety.
#1-The Soap and Water Spray Leak Test
Another quick tip you can use is to check your tank before use along with all lines and do the old soap and water spray test.
You want to double check for leaks. You can do this before you use every day, or you can do so every now and then. If you have a tank that hasn’t been opened or put into service in some time, it’s also wise to double check.
If it’s a tank you use more frequently, you can skip this step, but if used less frequently, you should always make it habit to double check for leaks first.
#2-Check Your Hoses for Cracks and Leaks
This ties into tip number 1 but sometimes you don’t necessarily place soap and water on every spot on the valves, lines or connections. This could lead to you ultimately missing a leak or overlooking another potential safety hazard.
Take the time to inspect the lines looking for any cracks or breaks visually. If you have a leak in your lines, it can become dangerous and raise the potential for a shop fire among other hazards.
A simple spot check before use and from time to time could be exactly what’s needed to avoid any issues.
#3-You Don’t Need To Have Your Tank Real Close to Your Work Space, You Have Plenty of Hose
In most circumstances, you have plenty of hose to work with. Some individuals make the mistake of allowing the hose to bunch up and using their torch with the tank to close nearby.
Take advantage of the length of the hose and keep your cylinders a safe distance away from you when your torch is in use. Torches create hot sparks, and other hazards and a cylinder full of gas and acetone doesn’t mix well with hot sparks.
Keeping your tank, a safe distance away is a best practice, and an additional step you can take to reduce the potential for danger.
#4-Bleed Your Lines After Use and Store Away Safely in Upright Position
When you have completed your project, or you are done using your tank for the day, you need to bleed the remaining pressure in the lines.
However, you don’t want to do this right away. You want to allow the pressure to remain in the lines for about 30 minutes after use. This will enable you to read your pressure gauge before bleeding the access pressure.
Why would you do this? Well, it’s an additional safety precaution you can take. If your pressure reading drops after you have shut the valve and stopped using, you know that you have missed a leak.
If the pressure remains the same after 30 minutes, you know you have no leaks and that you can bleed the lines and place your tank back into a stored spot. Remember, upright position while not in use as well.
Can an Acetylene Cylinder Explode?
Yes, acetylene cylinders can explode. This is a primary reason to keep them appropriately stored and when in use, keep a safe distance from the tank. If any reaction with the acetylene occurs within your hose or torch base, it can begin to feedback or propagate back to the cylinder causing it to explode violently.
Using the tips and safety precautions in this article will help you avoid this issue altogether.
Transporting Torch Tanks that Contain Acetylene
The physical transportation of these acetylene cylinders is often debated. Some individuals state they have always transported these tanks on their side, and some swear by only transporting upright. When possible, these cylinders still need to be transported in the upright position.
However, this isn’t always possible. Transporting these tanks is somewhat less of a concern for danger as opposed to using the tanks in a position other than the upright position.
The biggest thing that you must keep in mind is that if they have been transported on their sides, you must allow that time for the acetone to settle back to the bottom of the tank before use.
Not doing so can result in the explosion or fire that we discussed previously. The longer you wait, the better, but 1 hour is typically a good amount of time to shoot for.
Final Word. Acetylene Can Be Transported on Its Side but Never Used Unless Upright
Torch tanks that contain acetylene serve many great uses. They are an essential for all welding and metal fabrication projects. However, this never means to get careless or stop exercising common sense and safety precautions.
The biggest recap to re-emphasize is that these tanks should never be used on their sides. Under no circumstances. Additionally, if the tanks have been transported on their sides, allow the adequate amount of time for the acetone to settle at the bottom before use.
This plus our 4 additional safety tips should have you in great shape to use your torch tanks without the additional risk and hazard presenting themselves.
What’s your experience with torch tanks being transported on their sides and some best practices you implement before using them in your shop? Be sure to drop a comment below.