DIY HHO Mini Torch

Fascinated by hydrolysis apparatuses? Me too. Here’s a cool how-to that might convince you to make one! It’s a very simple and easy to build HHO torch using plumbing parts from the hardware store.

The entire build uses almost all standard readily available parts — except for the nozzle assembly. It’s an easy modification though, under the copper pipe endcap is a brass M6 nut that has been soldered in place – this allows you to switch out the MIG welding tips at any time.

[Peter] also shows off another useful tip that allows you to reduce the orifice size of the MIG welding tip – simply hammer a ball bearing into it. Seriously, check out the Instructable and see for yourself! This allows him to reduce the orifice size down to non-standard sizes which in turn allows him to increase the intensity of his HHO flame.

Now all you need is a source of HHO — but don’t worry, we’ve covered that before too!

[via Reddit]

52 thoughts on “DIY HHO Mini Torch

  1. I’ll have to remember that trick about the ball bearing! I had a job where I did some torch welding, but the tip was too large so I just peened the circumference of the nozzle to reduce the diameter, but the resulting hole wasn’t nearly as clean as that now did it work as well.

  2. I can’t imagine that this is safe. Any kind of flashback on that is going to burn all the way back to the generator, since the gas is pre-mixed at a nearly perfect stoichiometric ratio.

      1. Holy hell, do you people even read? He’s using screens and a washer near the ball valve to prevent flashback.

        If you’re so concerned with it, take one of those brass solder sponges and stuff it down the tube. Like, damn.

        1. While I grant you that the original comments were incorrect, I can say that A) I wouldn’t trust a homemade flashback arrestor on something like this and B) from everything I have found on the topic, flashback arrestors are used to prevent damage to the internals of the hoses and valves, not to prevent the gas source from blowing up like a goddamn bomb.

          1. Just to add onto John Smith’s last sentence: that’s exactly what it would do. It’s quite fun to fill bottles up with the stuff and light them aflame. Too loud to do that in the city, now, though.

        2. LOL. i see lots of people using cheap plastic one-way valves or homemade flashback arrestors made from bronze wool, etc, etc… and few weeks or months later i see the same people posting reports and videos of explosions…

          I think you should use at least one commercial safety rated flashback arrestor and water bubbler equiped with safety valve which will prevent it’s explosion…

          i’d preffer to have one arrestor at the torch side and other at the generator side…

          HHO is more dangerous than other similar gases as it already contains oxygen…

          1. Bingo. Not to mention, the standard of cleanliness for pipework and valves that contain oxygen is quite high. Is that valve, pipe compound, etc oxygen-safe? I doubt it…

    1. The stoichiometric air:fuel ratio for Hydrogen is 34:1 by mass 2.39:1 by volume. Simply splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen then lighting the mix is not very efficient. For internal combustion engine use, the rest of the gasses in air (which is mostly nitrogen) operate as a “working fluid”. The heat of the hydrogen and oxygen (or gasoline, diesel, alcohol or other fuels) burning causes all the non-oxygen gasses to expand.

      Trying to run an engine solely on the hydrogen and oxygen obtained from splitting water (by whatever means) won’t work. The outside air is required to make any combustion driven piston engine or turbine run.

      Many people confuse air and oxygen. Air is only about 20% oxygen. 78% is nitrogen. Nearly 1% is Argon. All the rest of the 0.03768% is a mix of gasses. Carbon Dioxide is only 0.035% of the makeup of air.

      1. wut? Splitting and lighting is super efficient. You cannot run a gas engine on it because the engine isn’t designed for the burn speed and expansion ratio. If you just want a bang, splitting and lighting is best return for gas volume.

        1. In lieu of an edit function:
          Ah, Sorry I do see what you mean about heating the inert gasses. Reading comprehension failure, I suppose. That said, I know for a fact that there’s plenty of energy to blow up even a small mixed-gas chamber, since I’ve done it for fun.

          1. Or air:fuel? This guy is using pure oxygen and hydrogen, premixed.

            Speaking of, you’d think this guy would have kept them separated. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, really.

          2. Expansion factor. Basically with the H2/O mix you’ve got a little bit of very hot gas. With inert gasses in the mix as well, you’d get a fair bit of moderately hot gas. Which would exert more pressure on the piston. Or, in this case, the container. So he might be right that one could make this rig even more dangerous, but I think it’s plenty dangerous as is.

  3. That is still immense.. ;)
    I use injection needles as torch tips for my HHO. with sizes with an OD of 22 to 28 gauge (~0.72mm-0.36mm).
    BTW: I use the welder to repair jewelry and all other kinds of small stuff (frames of glasses).

    1. Has anyone got a good how to for this idea of using the injection needles?
      I have a large body Smith cutting rig (“flame wrench” !!) and the welding tips for it are outrageous.
      I have seriously considered putting a tip cleaner wire (for sizing) in one hole of a cutting tip
      and peening the the end down to have a one hole nozzle, due to the cost difference.

      I know it would be unwieldy to use it much for small work,
      But it’s all I have and I’m pretty adept at arranging hoses.
      If needed, I could probably ghetto rig a counter balance
      for the infrequent times I need to do the really small stuff
      as it generally just the light gauge metal that’s the issue
      and normally would have the luxury of being able to rotate/position
      the workpiece to accommodate the torch handling fun.

      1. Hypo needles work very well as nozzle tips, and the good thing is they’re easily interchangeable. Shamless plug to my own little micro torch (oxy-gas, not hydrogen):

        I was told that a good source for all-metal needles (if you’re in the US) is

        Looking around on their site, they even have needles mounted in pipe thread fittings, ready for use as nozzles! Here they are:

        1. Lindsay Wilson – imajeenyus: Yeah, I’m continental US.
          That’s really encouraging to see the needle still in its plastic!
          Have You ever run acetylene/ oxy mix through them ???
          if need be, I could hit the goody box and adapt to propane.
          Used to run it for scrap cutting till they phased out the old style tanks.
          Was easy since the fittings were the same then.
          for simply cutting scrap, the lower BTUs weren’t much of a problem.
          just set slightly oxidizing flame (trade for less tip life though) if you had a thick spot to start from.

          It’s frustrating that the cost of 2~3 Smiths tips roughly $45 USD + shipping – feebay prices,
          ( and # 2’s at that, didn’t find any smaller ones listed there)
          would cover the price of a mini torch.

          i just skimmed your links, Will try for a proper read later on.
          thanks for them.

          1. I’ve only ever run oxygen/propane in the torch – I used to have acetylene, but ditched it because 1) I now have a plasma cutter for cutting 2) I’ve got TIG for welding 3) oxypropane does just fine for all the brazing jobs I need. I would imagine that acetylene would work ok, just make sure to use the arrestors.

            I maybe didn’t make clear on my webpage that the little torch basically replaces the standard big torch on the end of the gas/oxygen tubes – i.e. the flashback arrestors are still in place.

            Surprisingly, the smaller needle runs perfectly cool, but the bigger one heats up and starts softening the plastic holder after a while. I can only guess that the flame is more “attached” to the larger tube (because of the slower flowrate) and heats it up a bit.

          2. I’m assuming the lower heat to gas flow ratio helps the “tip” survive while still in that plastic.
            Was once employed in a repair shop that ran a lot of phos-copper brazing in deep slots
            by hand of course. ( new end rings onto LARGE electric motor rotors)
            They switched from acetylene to a blended fuel gas for cost mainly,
            but it also ran noticeably cooler in the torches
            and helped with the flashback and a bit of the tip erosion.

  4. I’m not a welder, nor a chemist. But my fucking god, do people actually take premixed oxygen and hydrogen and intentionally light it on fire? This seems like the perfect recipe for scraping bits of the would-be welder off the walls.

  5. Heh, I started making on of these with some thin copper tube, worked decently but I was just feeding directly off what I was making, not a reserve so there was barely any flame, and yeah, it back flashed and blew the cork out of the bottle a couple times XD

    1. But HHO welders do have superpowers, they can melt metal by burning water.. ;)

      But yeah, HHO has the tendency to have be correlated with overunity idiots and other physics-challenged people who think that when you turn energy into another form of energy you suddenly have more energy (despite the loss of energy when you are converting it).

        1. I have been using these oxyhydrogen-welders professionally for decades now, they are commercially available and used by countless jewelers and opticians, they are sold under names like aquarius microflame and aquaflame. these are quite safe products, have clean flames, and are easy in use.
          And recently I also could acquire one for personal use.
          The unit doesn’t sore any gas, it has a simple thick walled steel reaction chamber (containing KOH solution) wit stainless steel electrodes. the gas goes through an internal bubbler and then to an external bubbler (this one is containing MEK, acetone or methyl alcohol, it was told to me that that was to lower the flame temperature and make the caloric value of the gas-mixture higher). from there it goes through the handle with several flame arrestor, some even have a emergency stop that automatically is actvated in case of a flashback.

          I don’t think that these things are any less safe than any other kind of torch.
          I love the fact that you only need water to refill the reaction chamber, and never run out of gas. The flame is extremely clean, and you can even use the flame to polish.
          I never heard of any accident involving one of these devices, and I have been in the trade for quite some time now.

  6. This is a bad idea. Mix it at the nozzle. Storing fuel and oxidizer is a recipe for boom. The guy says “HHO requires a different approach from the traditional gas mindset” and “before doubting my level of expertise rather educate yourself”. Well, you can put your safety in his hands if you want. I just want to add my voice to those advising caution/redesign.

    1. I like the general idea of it, and it’s worth keeping around with a very large safety warning. Perhaps this post could serve as an inspiration for a dual hose, more complex design.

  7. Let’s call a stoichiometric mixture of hydrogen and oxygen a stoichiometric mixture of hydrogen, let’s not call it “HHO” or “Brown’s gas” or whatever, that is just giving legitimacy to the crackpots who believe that this stoichiometric mixture of hydrogen and oxygen somehow has magic powers outside the established law of physics and chemistry.

    So, you want to build an oxy-hydrogen blowtorch powered by a water-electrolysis cell to generate the hydrogen and oxygen? OK, great.

    I would strongly recommend you set up the electrolysis cell with hydrogen captured at the cathode and oxygen captured at the anode, without mixing them, and piped separately to the torch with two independent tubes and mixed at the torch with a pair of valves.

    That’s how every professional oxy-fuel blowtorch in the world is designed. This allows you to adjust and control the oxygen-fuel ratio entering the torch. Furthermore, whilst hydrogen is flammable, the pre-mixed stoichiometric hydrogen-oxygen mixture produced by just allowing the gases produced in the cell at the anode and the cathode to freely mix together is basically a potent pre-mixed explosive ready to detonate, so having that mixture hanging around through the system (as opposed to mixing it only right where it burns) is relatively dangerous.

  8. I can only repeat what others have said, and add that it’s pretty irresponsible not adding any disclaimer about the dangers of flashback/explosion happening with this sort of torch.

    If you are intent on blowing yourself up with a 2:1 molar ratio of H2 to O2, then at least generate the hydrogen and oxygen under separate collectors and feed them separately to the torch head, so they only get mixed at the very last moment. Commercial flashback arrestors or one-way valves would be a must. There are usually two arrestors used on the tubing, one at the torch end and one at the tank end.

    If you don’t want to mess around with arrestors, then at least make the tubing as small as possible – there is absolutely no need to use what looks like 1/2″ copper pipe, which gives a massive volume of explosive mixture!

    “Oxyhydrogen” does appear to be a valid term for this sort of torch, just like “oxypropane” or “oxyacetylene”. It’s just unfortunate that it’s been hijacked by the fringe science people who give it a bad name.

    When used properly, there is usually an excess of hydrogen (ratio 4:1 to 5:1, according to to ensure a reducing atmosphere, which is normally what you want when brazing or soldering. This would also reduce the risk of an explosion, I’d imagine.

    Commercial hydrogen torch units (e.g. “Microflame” pass the hydrogen (or the mixture, I’m not exactly sure, as I only see one tube going to the torch) through a magic mix to “reduce the burning speed”. The magic mix appears to be MEK, so you’ll get a gas loaded with MEK vapour which presumably slows down the burning.

    Incidentally, the Chinese now do knock-offs of the microflame units and I’ve seen them for as little as $300, usually advertised for acrylic flame polishing.

  9. there are no tanks in these systems, most use a bubbler with a pressure relief directly before the torch and the gas is produced and used instantaneously. The gas in my system was minimal less than 5ml in the wet cell electrolyser and 30-50ml in the bubbler, a flash back would only produce a nice pop. Never store these gases together you will kiss and mame ;)

  10. I’m normally the type of person who follows the “let the kid burn their finger on the stove to learn why not to touch it” method, but in this situation I think it’s prudent to implement stringent safety measures to insure you don’t burn your finger as it were. tl;dr the whiny Parents Against Experimentation committee is actually right this time.

        1. Completely missed the point. By calling it “HHO”, people will think that’s an acceptable term to call it, so will therefore think that the overunity nutters are calling it correctly, and working with something “real”. Like the original poster said, calling it HHO just legitimizes the therm.

          Your argument is the same as used against bothering to spellcheck or grammarcheck postings (its/it’s, their/there etc.) – “Oh, but you know what I mean”. That’s not the point – point is that it’s WRONG.

  11. So what does this get used for? I’m guessing that this isn’t as hot a flame as one usually gets from other fuels given that it can be operated with a soldered together – copper pipe torch. I suppose most of the heat is probably getting sent out, away from the tip but still.. solder? It can’t be that hot right? So… what does such a torch get used for?

    1. Oxyhydrogen is capable of a max temperature around 2800°C. They can melt platinum. They are common tools in a jewelers arsenal. I use one with a 28ga tip to join small stainless steel parts.

    2. The burning gas does not actually touch the end of the nozzle – if you look closely at a gas jet, you’ll see it starts burning a tiny distance away. So there isn’t significant heating of the nozzle itself, so soft solder is no problem.

  12. What are these people talking about, commercial gas generators use water and caustic mix and generate gas in the same cell,
    too many idiots with off the wall ideas who have no idea about commercial gas generators for welding,
    nothing to do with fringe science, these gas generators have been made this way for decades, not enough stored gas to give any problem, very safe and very reliable.
    oh, btw, Nice torch, good idea.

  13. Is hho really incorrect nomenclature, or simply an abbreviation that instills fear in those who think they have nothing else to learn? Does that mean mek is a term used by frindge idiots or 1,1,1?

    1. Electrolized mixed gas is called HHO. It has unique properties when burnt, like heating any electrically conductive material, but little effect on non-conductive ones. It loses this property after a few hours. Seperately bottled Hydrogen and Oxygen do not have this property.

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