Glass blowing, also known as lamp blowing, is the process of manipulating glass at very high heats.
It is often used to create glass art, jewelry, and glass crockery.
You’ll find a full lineup of articles on this amazing and addicting hobby here.
There are two main types: offhand glass blowing and lampworking.
Offhand glass blowing is typically performed in larger studios with three separate furnaces and tends to be used to make larger projects.
Lampworking uses smaller equipment and is easier to do at home.
Glass blowing torches have a number of uses outside of glass work, such as in the kitchen for caramelizing sugar on top of a crème brûlée.
I have rounded up a selection of the top glass-blowing torches available on the market and reviewed them.
If you simply cannot wait to begin glass blowing, my top pick is listed below for you.
I have also included a buyer’s guide to help you ensure you pick the right torch for your intended purpose.
This details all of the important specifications to keep an eye out for on your search.
At the end, I have included a FAQ section to tie up any loose ends you may have.
In a hurry?
My top pick is the Sondiko MIHUX Refillable Butane Torch.
It is an incredibly versatile torch and gives you a lot of value for your money. Read below for a more in-depth look.
- Review of The Best Torches For Glass Blowing Pipes
- Other Great Torches For Glass Blowing Pipes
- Torch Buyer’s Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
Review of The Best Torches For Glass Blowing Pipes
The Sondiko is my top pick. It is small and portable, with a wide-set base for security.
The torch uses Piezo ignition technology. It has four flame settings and a safety lock.
There is a long-angled nozzle and a burn-free finger guard to protect your hands.
The burn time varies according to which butane canister is used. The canister must have a long universal tip to be compatible.
The maximum temperature is 2,372 degrees Fahrenheit.
The torch is made from an aluminum alloy nozzle with a zinc alloy base.
The warranty period is 18 months, and the first 90 days entitle you to a hassle-free, full refund.
- Reasonably priced.
- Incredibly portable.
- Many safety features.
- 18-month warranty.
- Attachable to any canister.
Other Great Torches For Glass Blowing Pipes
Runner-Up: Bluefire HB-875B-B Handy Cyclone Torch
This is a 0.55 pound torch that measures 8 x 7 x 1 inches and attaches directly to a gas canister.
The torch uses trigger-start Piezo ignition technology with a cyclone swirl flame.
There is no mention of a safety lock. The torch comes with an anti-flare neck.
The burn time varies according to which MAPP or propane canister is used.
The maximum temperature is 2,642 degrees Fahrenheit. The torch is made from metal.
There is no warranty period stated.
- Max temperature of 2,642 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Attaches to any canister.
- Runs off MAPP or propane gas.
- Not stated whether there is a safety lock.
The Dremel is my next choice. It is a 1.5 pound torch and measures 13 x 7 x 2.3 inches with a wide-set detachable base for security.
It has an integrated ignition trigger button. It has a safety lock and an adjustable flame.
There is a flame diffuser included, and there are many varying attachments.
The burn time is up to 75 minutes. The maximum temperature is 2,192 degrees Fahrenheit.
The torch is made from metal and has a large gas tank capacity.
The warranty period is two years.
- Not too expensive.
- Two-year warranty.
- Multiple attachments.
- Weighs 1.5 pounds.
- Maximum temperature of 2,192 degrees Fahrenheit.
Blazer GB2001 Self-Igniting Micro-Torch
This is a 6.8 ounce torch. It measures 12 x 6 x 6 inches, with a wide-set base for safety.
The torch uses Piezo quartz crystal, electric-ignition technology. It has a lever to adjust the gas flow and precision flame control as well as a safety lock.
There is no anti-flare neck stated.
The burn time is up to two hours from a 26 gram butane canister. The maximum temperature is 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The torch is made from rubber in an ergonomic diamond shape.
The warranty period is one year.
- Precision flame control.
- One to two hour burn time.
- Maximum temperature 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Not stated whether there is an anti-flare neck.
- Most expensive of the picks.
This is a 5.6 ounce torch. It measures 8 x 4 x 1 inches, with a wide set base for security and built-in ignition technology.
It has a slider to adjust the flame settings and a dual-safety lock. The presence of an anti-flare neck is not stated.
The burn time is up to one hour, and the maximum temperature is 2,372 degrees Fahrenheit. The torch is made from plastic.
The warranty period is not stated.
- Very cheap.
- One hour burn time.
- Anti-flare neck not stated.
- No warranty period stated.
- Made of plastic.
Torch Buyer’s Guide
It is a wise idea to look for torches with a wide base. This increases their level of stability, making them safer to operate.
They give you a sense of security when in hands-free mode. With these torches, you can heat and prepare your materials without worrying.
If you move about a lot for work or simply wish to take your torch to another location, it is wise to look for a smaller torch.
Small butane torches are very stable and unlikely to fall over. Bigger torches are better suited to more diverse projects.
Most torches will come with a simple on/off button that serves as the ignition system.
These will work immediately and will make it very clear as to which mode the torch is in.
Some torches will contain an internal ignition feature.
These do not need electricity to run but are more complex. These are not as suited to beginners as they can be confusing.
This is an incredibly important characteristic for your torch to have. It is vital to be able to control the flow of the gas and the flame for different projects.
Being in charge of this allows you to save money on fuel as you can turn the flame down when a less intense fire is required.
You should be able to see the color of the flame adjusting as you turn down the gas.
This indicates a change in flame temperature with the more yellow and red tones being cooler and the blue and white being hotter.
Good-quality glass blowing torches will have an adjustable flame.
If your torch does not, it is more likely to be designed for use with food as temperatures do not need to be as high for this.
Similar to childproofing medicine containers, a safety lock will prevent anyone untrained from activating the torch.
The safety lock is very important to have, particularly if you have children in the vicinity.
The safety lock also works to stop any gas from leaking out of the torch.
If you are working in the kitchen or by any other flames, this is vital to protect you and those around you.
It is also a very useful feature to have if you plan on traveling with your torch.
It is vital that your torch has an anti-flare neck. This kind of torch design allows you to use the torch with the flame on at any angle.
This is a safety feature designed to reduce the risk of burns to your hands while in operation.
The burn time varies according to the size of the fuel tank. Generally speaking, the larger the fuel tank, the longer the burn time.
Other factors that have an impact on the burn time are the fuel-leak-prevention mechanisms and the efficiency of your torch use.
The average burn time is anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes.
Lower burn times are okay for smaller projects, but if you are trying to do something larger you need a much longer burn time.
The cost of a glass-blowing torch can vary widely depending on the additional features and the quality of the manufacturing process.
If you do not need it for specialist purchases, buying a basic model tends to be sufficient.
Look at a few different torch models to find the one best suited to your needs.
The material used to construct the body of your torch is another important consideration.
Some use a hard metal, such as steel or aluminum, and others are made of rigid plastic.
Plastic bodied torches do not rust and tend to be more scratch-resistant. They are also heavier and do not heat up while in use.
This is because the plastic body acts as an insulator, protecting your hands from heat exposure.
The metal torches are more lightweight than the plastic ones, making them more portable. This makes them easier to use for extended periods of time.
Many different gases can be used in glass blowing torches to power the flame.
This is natural gas, similar to kerosene. The flames can reach temperatures of up to 6,300 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is primarily used to cut, solder, melt, cast, and fuse metal. It will burn a hole in almost all metals due to its intense heat.
It can leave a sooty carbon remnant behind, meaning that not all people like to use it. This is especially prominent on platinum and gold alloys.
You can get oxy/acetylene and air/acetylene torches.
The air ones do not get as hot, but there is an easy switch between flame sizes. You also do not need to purchase a tank for these torches.
Propane (and Natural Gas)
The flames made by propane are at a much lower temperature than acetylene.
For propane torches, this is around 5,252 degrees Fahrenheit, and for natural gas you’re looking at around 5,120 degrees Fahrenheit.
These flames do not produce carbon and are used for a variety of purposes. They are generally favored by goldsmiths.
This is ideal for use with platinum. The flames reach a temperature of 4,850 degrees Fahrenheit and burn cleanly with no carbon byproducts created.
The main downside to hydrogen is the increased cost and the decreased availability of it.
It is also much harder to transport and store, meaning use requires a delicate hand.
This has a lower flame temperature, at just 4,995 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that it is not as multi-functional as the other gases.
It is, however, very easy to store and transport. It is also affordable and easy to get hold of.
This means that many torches (unless a higher temperature is necessary) will run on butane gas.
MAPP stands for methylacetylene-propadiene propane. It also contains small quantities of butane and iso-butane.
It reaches temperatures of up to 5,301 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is non-toxic, stable, and high-energy. It is also easily detectable and so is used often.
This fuel is used when lampworking, brazing, annealing, flame-cutting, flame hardening, and soldering.
It will heat up faster and to higher temperatures than air/propane torches but does not have the same flame range as oxy/propane torches do.
These are fairly modern inventions to use as an alternative to tanks of pressurized oxygen.
They can only be attached to small burners and do not last for very long.
They take oxygen out of the environment and use a large compressor to run the Carlisle Burner inside.
They are very cost-effective, and if you change the filters regularly, they are very safe to use and have an unlimited life span.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Stay Safe While Using a Glass-Blowing Torch?
You must ensure that you are working in a very well-ventilated area. You should always kit yourself out with appropriate safety equipment.
These include things like safety didymium goggles, thick heatproof leather gloves, and a long welder’s apron made from leather.
Take care to choose appropriate glasses for the fuel and materials that you are working with. Didymium glasses tend to be the best for glass blowing.
They will protect the eyes brilliantly against glass fragments, sodium flares, ultraviolet light, and infrared light.
If you hear a bang, this could be caused by the fuels mixing and igniting prematurely. Close all valves and call the manufacturer for advice.
Ensure all screws on the torch are tightly screwed in. This will keep it from falling over and accidentally causing a fire.
You should always ensure that the compression cap on the torch has been tightened.
If you allow valves to stay open, this can cause fuel to leak, which can be very costly.
If you are still running into problems, I suggest turning off the flame.
Once you have done this, check the nozzle, fuel adjustment levers, and regulators. If the levers are loose, please contact the manufacturer.
What Do You Need for Glass Blowing?
Obviously, you will need a torch. These come as hot head, minor, and gas torches.
Hot head torches are connected to small MAPP or propane tanks and are perfect for amateurs.
You will also need some glass – again a fairly obvious requirement.
The most commonly used glasses are soda-lime (a soft glass) and borosilicate (a hard glass). Soda-lime has a COE of 104, and borosilicate has a COE of 33.
You will see a lot of references to the COE of the glass.
This means the coefficient of expansion and refers to how the glass changes in accordance with the temperature.
Soda-lime glass melts at lower temperatures and is often recommended for beginners to use.
You will also need some mandrels. These are metal rods used to move and shape the molten glass. You will need lots in different sizes to help make different shapes.
You will also need something known as bead release for the mandrel. This will stop the glass from sticking to the mandrel.
You will need a designated, heatproof workbench to do your glass blowing on.
This will protect your home from catching fire and provide you a flat surface on which to do your craft.
Ensure you do not keep any flammable materials on your workbench as this can be a safety hazard.
An annealing kiln is also very useful. Some people choose to use a glass or ceramic kiln too.
The point of these is to gently and slowly cool the glass down to room temperature.
This relieves any internal pressure on your creation and brings all of the glass to a consistent temperature.
You may also require smaller tools specific to varying purposes. These could include knives, pliers, and tweezers for shaping and cutting purposes.
Paddles, crimps, molds, and marvers are useful for creating fun shapes. Try experimenting with frit, micas, and stringers to add color to your projects.
Be sure to read my list of necessary supplies before getting started.