When looking for a blowtorch for the kitchen, you can buy some reasonably expensive tools. When looking for a blowtorch for plumbing, you can buy some reasonably cheap tools.

The price is different. The look is different. The principle is the same. I guess the gas is the same.

Why pay more? Is there a health issue? Is the kitchen blowtorch more precise?

  • Possible duplicate: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/5105/…
    – hobodave
    Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 10:59
  • Not the question... but the answers. Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 11:06
  • 1
    The fuel is sometimes different. You don't really care if your roof or weld smells a bit like kerosene.
    – SF.
    Commented Jun 10, 2019 at 11:48

5 Answers 5


Yes, there is no real difference.

Be aware that if you one from the hardware store, it should be one where the flame does not fluctuate when you tilt the torch. This usually happens with the very cheap ones. This becomes a big problem when you try to uniformly brown something.

Aside from that and maybe "esthetically" I see no reason not to use one from the hardware store.

  • 2
    :) I tried a cheep one a few years ago and set as I tilted the burner down at an ~45 degree angle, the flame spiked violently, setting a few kitchen towels on fire that were placed somewhere behind the piece of meet that I wanted to brown. Nothing really happened, I just needed to get a better burner :) Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 13:24

Actually, the gas isn't always the same -- in hardware stores, there's both propane and MAPP gas; you'd want to get a propane one. (it's cheaper, but it doesn't get as hot ... you won't need the extra heat for cooking purposes)

But well, the hardware store ones tend to be either much larger, or much smaller (they make some little mini-torches for emergencies that are about the size of a AA-battery flashlight). I would think that if you're a caterer, doing smaller parties at customer's houses, that the mid-size 'culinary' torch would be a benefit as it has enough gas in it to handle the job, but not so large that it's going to take up lots of space.

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    Yes. I've been visualizing trying to brown a crème brûlée with my bjillion BTU MAPP gas soldering torch. Not a pretty site. But I might try it for chilies... Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 15:34
  • @dmckee : it's not that much hotter -- 2900C vs. 2800C.
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 16:27
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    Does anyone know if the MAPP gas is even safe for food? I use a hardware propane torch and am very happy with it. Refills are cheap and last much longer than the dumb little kitchen store ones. Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 21:13
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    @Michael: It is a pure hydrocarbon with no ethane rings, so I would assume that as long as you are getting complete combustion (i.e. a nice blue centered flame with no smoke), you should be fine. I wouldn't use my pipe soldering torch because it is hard to adjust reliable to small amounts of output. Six inch flame, though? No problem. Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 22:10
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    @MichaelatHerbivoracious Yes, MAPP is safe. In fact, the authors of Modernist Cuisine recommend MAPP over Propane/Butane for its hotter flame temperature and lower propensity to deposit 'off flavours' onto food (which can happen with Propane).
    – sufw
    Commented May 12, 2013 at 3:13

The MAPP Gas is your best bet. Even though it may burn hotter, when the MAPP Gas does not completely combust, micro particles of the gas will be emitted from the tank and onto the food. This is also true with the propane burners. The difference is the flavor and smell. You will not taste or smell the minuscule amounts of MAPP gas on the food, whereas with the propane you will.

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    Correct, but you will still have have hydrocarbon by-products all over your food :-(
    – TFD
    Commented Nov 14, 2012 at 20:40

They're not always the same thing. You need a pressure regulated torch; the unregulated ones will shut off when tipped down, making them impossible to use on food.


For the most part they are the same. But if you work professionally, you may need one with health code stamp on it regarding the mechanisms cleanliness.

I had traded a refillable butane torch to a friend's daughter who was in school and needed one for class for one of her Sherry cakes,Not a big deal. I bought the them for $15 at HF tool store. she was gonna buy the same looking thing for $60-$70. after a month or so. I had heard about the Health code stamp, she had to borrow a friends for the class. but still uses the one I traded her at home.

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