Thursday, August 15, 2013

Troubleshooting Tips for your Butane Torch

Sometimes, as your butane torch gets older and well used, it stops working. Usually, this means that the automatic ignitor has stopped working and the torch doesn't light. Before you throw that torch away, try these tips to fix it!

You can also catch some of these tips on our free video that I made with Beaducation: Butane Torch Safety. Troubleshooting starts at 15:56.


Please, before you work on or use your torch - wear safety glasses! It just makes sense. And never use a torch that is misbehaving so badly that it feels unsafe.

1 • Is the gas on?

Sure, it seems obvious, but sometimes the torch won't light because the gas lever is turned down. Turn the gas dial to maximum and try lighting again. Maybe it just wasn't getting enough butane to spark!

2 • Not enough oxygen? 

Another culprit is a lack of oxygen, which along with the butane can help the torch ignite. On some butane torches, there is a silver or black sleeve on the nozzle that rotates, opening and closing a vent that allows oxygen to mix with the fuel. If it's closed, the ignitor may not be able to spark the butane into a flame. Open it all the way and try again.

3 • No spark? 

The ignitor might be broken or clogged. How can you tell? Use a manual torch lighter, also called a sparker, to try lighting the torch. Start up the torch as usual, holding the trigger down to keep the butane flowing. Place the cup of the sparker a couple of inches in front of the nozzle and slide the flint back and forth to make a spark. If the butane lights, then the torch is fine, but the ignitor isn't working. Most torches require an external tool like a sparker to light them. Don't waste this torch just because the ignitor isn't working. Use the sparker instead. In fact, sometimes the problem is temporary, and I've seen the ignitors come back to life, days, weeks or even months later.

4 • Bad Butane? 

Not all butane is created equal. Cheap butane is oily and can clog your torch, preventing it from lighting. Check the opening of the nozzle for residue. If it's dirty, try cleaning it with a cotton swab or pipe cleaner, and maybe a little rubbing alcohol. Be sure to let the alcohol evaporate away completely before trying to light the torch! If that doesn't work, you may have to empty the torch and refill it. We've seen torches function better as their fuel is gradually replaced with better quality, premium butane. To speed things up, empty the torch by turning it on and locking it, so that the butane is venting out. This is best done outside in a safe place where the torch won't be disturbed for 20 - 30 minutes. If the torch ignites while you're trying to vent it, the flame can be blown out with a strong puff of air - from your mouth. Just keep your lips away from the heat! Once the torch is empty, refill it with the good stuff. Let it rest for 5 minutes, and then try it again.

5 • Missing something? 

This is a real life problem that has happened to me with large flame butane torches. The torch won't ignite - even with a sparker. When I checked the nozzle, the brass part inside was missing. This seems to work like a choke or something similar to make the butane focused enough to spark. Without it, your torch won't work. Often, when I look around, I'll find the little guy on the floor or on the bench. Replace it in the nozzle, pressing it in firmly with your tweezers. Usually works like a charm!

6 • Is the torch leaking? 

Have you ever noticed butane bubbling out of the nozzle or the fuel port on the bottom? This is a good sign that the torch is too full or that it's damaged. If the torch is too full, the pressure has to release somehow, so butane will bubble and spit out, usually from the fuel port. You can release the pressure by pressing on the little nipple inside the fuel port with a flat head screw driver or something similar. A jet of butane will come out. Check for butane spittle. Repeat until the dribbling stops. If it doesn't stop, your torch is probably damaged and shouldn't be used.

7 • Is your torch a spitter? 

Does the torch light but the flame goes crazy, losing it's focused blue shape and expanding into a yellow tipped blow torch? Well, first, turn it off. Something is obviously wrong. It may be temporary or the torch may be broken. A temporary problem would be an air bubble in the fuel line. This will either keep the torch from lighting or cause the flame to sputter and expand, usually ending by putting itself out. If it's an air bubble, one of two things will solve the problem: time or patience. Over time, the bubble will work its way out and the torch will work again. Maybe 20 minutes to a few hours. If you can't wait, try running the torch in a safe place where the big flame won't cause any problems. Re-ignite the flame as necessary until, after much patience, the flame settles back to normal.

If it never stops misbehaving, the problem may be a little more serious. Press the trigger down half way, enough to start the butane flowing, but not enough to ignite the sparker. Do you see a jet of liquid butane coming out of the nozzle? If so, release the trigger. Something is wrong and the torch is spitting liquid butane in a way that is messing up the flame. What to do? Try steps 4 and 6 to release pressure or change butane. If that doesn't work, the torch may be too damaged to use.


Diane (Dewdrop Designs) said...

Thank you very much for these tips. I will be trying them out on a butane torch that I was going to throw away. Maybe I can save it!

Jennifer Kowchee said...

I just went out and spent 50 bucks on a damn torch and NO butane or adapters will make it fill without leaking half the damn can out, and I cannot afford that haha. Idk what to do, I can't return it and I would rather throw it at the ground and break it then keep paying for wasted butane.

Herbert said...

Turn the gas dial to maximum and try lighting again. ...

Jay Seatown said...

My torch has been working fine for the last couple months, but i went to fill it today and the "hiss" sound before lighting it wasn't there? No flame without a "hiss" right? What do I do?

Trudi said...

I purchased a proxxon butane torch in June. Am using triple refined butane. The torch just quits while in the middle of project. It is not empty because have filled It right before. And the igniter is very temperamental. Half the time have to keep on pushing igniter ten or so times before it works.

Unknown said...

I've taken apart the tip & found out it has 2 O-rings 1 flat piece & what looks like a screen.
All inside the tip...
Can you help me

Joe Silvera said...

Guess I need to find some sort of alert feature to let me know when people post on this page of my blog! LOL

Yes, butane torches can be temperamental and frustrating - but hey! they're 1/10th the price of a 2 tank torch set up or less! So, of course we have to live with some quirks and sometimes you just have to replace the torch. Or as I call it, opportunity for an upgrade. Let me answer some of the previous posts.

Jennifer and the Leaky Butane: Been there with a big wet leaky refill. It usually still fills but it's just as ridiculous and frustrating as Jennifer posts. Luckily it doesn't happen too often. First choice if this happens to you: return the torch. It could have a faulty valve. If that's not an option, then we can try a fix, sort of a reboot. There could be an air bubble or clog. You can open up the butane on the torch and let it vent outside. If you can't vent without a flame, turn on the torch, but blow out the flame. Again: vent outside in open air in a safe place for 20-30 minutes. Not inside or near flames (duh!). Once the torch is empty, try refilling. Some fuel ports on the bottom of the torch can be depressed with a screw driver. This will vent out some butane, which could clean out the problem. Sometimes the problem is fixed by switching butane refills. Some torches fill better from a canister with metal nozzle, vs. a plastic one. Also, and this is a fun one: they make 2 sizes of nozzles! One for torches and lighters, one for camping stoves. So if you've got a low squat nozzle on the butane canister, it's not the right kind and won't work. Finally if all of this doesn't work, it's time to cash in for a new less frustrating torch. Test it immediately to make sure it works.

Jay and the HissLess Torch: Yup, no hiss, no flame. Something is wrong: like maybe it's not really refilled? That would be the easiest fix. Otherwise, maybe there's a clog or air bubble in the line that is stopping the flow. I have not encountered this problem with a torch before without it being a refill issue. I would carefully test the torch with it's built in ignitor or with an outside ignitor like a manual sparker torch lighter or a cigarette lighter.

Trudi and the Fickle Ignitor: Some brands of butane torches are better than others. My preferred brand is Blazer. I've used several different brands and the Blazer torches have always been the most consistent and efficient. Remember if your torch isn't lighting, it may still work, but the ignitor may be offline. Try using a manual torch lighter (sparker) or cigarette lighter to light the flame.

Unknown and the Insides of a torch: it's always fun to take apart a torch, and... risky. Before you take apart your torch, if it's a premium brand like Blazer, make an inquiry with them to see if they will repair or refurbish your torch, especially if you've had it for less than a year.

Full Throttle Lightersk said...

Agh this is a little late to the game this is whAt I hate about comments. What company makes it? Some companies offer lifetime warranties and 99% offer a 1-3 year warranty and since its brand new the company will for sure warranty it. If they don't email me at I have the best torches in the business I have a 5.5 inch mini standing table torch w/ pin point flame for precision, great for cooking jewelry sweating pipes all sorts f house how odd that reaches 2500 degree for 30 with a lifetime warranty thru me or a 6in torch with a bigger flame that reaches 2600F $33 or a 10in jumbo with a fat boy flame 2700-2800 F $36.00 email me for more info. All torches lifetime warranty I will fix and if I can't fix I will help you put a warranty claim thru if it qualifies.

Ronaldo said...
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dad said...

What mechanism on the button causes gas flow? Mine worked fine until one day gas stopped completely. Can't even light it with a lighter. I'm sure it's that the button isn't connected to the "open" switch, but no idea what that should look like

dad said...

What mechanism on the button causes gas flow? Mine worked fine until one day gas stopped completely. Can't even light it with a lighter. I'm sure it's that the button isn't connected to the "open" switch, but no idea what that should look like

Joe Silvera said...

All butane torches will have a gas switch, like the dial on the side of the small torch shown in this post, or the red switch on the large flame silver torch also shown. I don't recommend taking a torch apart to fix it for safety reasons, so I can't tell you about the connections inside. If you turn it on and hear gas but no ignition, the ignition is broken and the torch will probably light with a sparker or lighter. Ignition problems are the most common. If you're sure it's full and no sound of gas coming out, then its clogged or broken. Either way it sucks and I hope the problem is resolved for you soon.

Corley Ellen said...

I have a ronson lighter with the torch flame, it quit working so i threw it in a drawer and forgot about it. About a year or so later, took it out and it worked like a charm. It's been working for about another year now and suddenly it quit again. I've tried all the remedies except throwing it in the drawer again.

Joe Silvera said...

Hi Corley - Been there. I had a Blazer that stopped igniting, and then suddenly started working again months later. Remember you can usually use a sparker/striker to light it if the regular ignitor doesn't work. At least until it decides to come back from vacation!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kate leblanc said...

I wish mine had a warranty it still works sort of... Gotta light it with a lighter cause the ignition doesn't work and you gotta hold down really hard on the trigger