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I've come across recipes that involve the use of a Butane or Propane torch. Is it safe to use a propane torch bought at the Hardware store, or is there something different about the torches and/or fuel that is sold at a culinary store?

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Possible duplicate: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/6899/… –  Erik P. Mar 29 '13 at 15:31
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I don't think that this is a duplicate. The other question does not address food safety concerns specifically. –  rumtscho Mar 30 '13 at 9:09

5 Answers 5

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Propane and butane are pure alkanes. They don't produce anything nasty when burned. The worst you could possibly get should be carbon monoxide (and I am not even sure it can be produced in a torch, the dioxide ifs much more likely), but it being a gas, it won't stick to your food. The complex molecules you get from heating the food itself have more potential for being harmful than the combustion products of a propane butane torch. Ago yes, it is food safe.

Another matter of safety is that it is easier to cause a fire with a hardware store torch, because it has more power than the kitchen ones. But a sensible adult should be able to handle the thing safely.

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I agree with the above, just make sure your torch is burning efficiently, i.e. producing a blue flame, not an orange flame, or you may end up with a slightly propane flavored meal. –  Didgeridrew Mar 29 '13 at 18:38

You will achieve the exact same results and save yourself considerable money getting your propane torch at the local hardware store.

That said, depending on what you are attempting (Crème brûlée, for instance) may take some practice to get it right, but a generic propane soldering torch is fine.

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Most generic propane torches from the hardware store are better than those awful butane "crème brûlée torches" you find at kitchen stores, which take forever to do even a single serving. –  Aaronut Mar 29 '13 at 13:56

Yes, you will be just fine food safety wise. The Bernzomatic heads available with the triggers are best for convenience. I actually recommend you look for MAP/MAPP gas which will lessen your risk of "torch-taste" but as was mentioned earlier the food safety issue is not a problem, it's the same propane that your grill uses.

A few tips, always start your torch facing away from your food. There will be a small puff of gas initially that you don't want to hit your food. Keep a nice blue hot flame and wave your torn like you were painting brush strokes on a canvas so you don't get hot spots.

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I would be careful with MAPP gas torches. First of all, MAPP itself (metylacetalyne propadiene) is actually no longer produced in the US and most things labeled MAPP are in fact MAPP substitutes. Secondly, all those double and triple bonds (propadiene, acetylene, respectively) are going to produce very unpredictable combustion products. I wouldn't want to eat them. Although its burning temperature is lower, propane torches are likely to be somewhat safer because the combustion of pure alkanes is very clean and usually almost all CO2 and water (maybe a little CO). –  jbeldock Apr 6 '13 at 7:17
    
pretty much every trusted source I've come across has recommended MAP/MAPP or it's newer equivalent over anything else. Their arguments are actually counter to yours, namely that they burn more completely then butane or propane and will lessen the risk of torch taste. I tend to trust the sources I've come across but to each his own. –  Brendan Apr 6 '13 at 15:38
    
That's really interesting! Please do point me to anything you find--I'd love to use the hotter flame. :-) –  jbeldock Apr 8 '13 at 23:06
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there's a nice thread on this here forum.chefsteps.com/discussion/comment/2082/#Comment_2082 –  Brendan Apr 10 '13 at 1:14

I tried MAPP gas and got a sooty residue. Not recommended. I have used propane, esp. when melting cheese, with great results.

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One very important point to remember if you buy a propane torch from a hardware store is to make sure you buy a "Regulated Nozzle". Otherwise when you tip down to bronze your food it will go off (extinguish).

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This is very good to know, but it doesn't address the specific concern of the original question, specifically food-safety. –  Jolenealaska Aug 4 at 3:21

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