Butane is a gas that derives from natural gas and is refined through multiple steps to remove impurities and to make it more stable. It is available at any home improvement store or at stores that sell refillable lighters and fuel tanks.
Butane torches are used for a wide range of applications, including plumbing work like sudation joints for copper water lines and for brazing or soldering metal or plastic pipe fittings. They also have a variety of uses in the kitchen, including searing steaks, melting cheese, making caramelized sugar, and grilling seafood.
Safety features are important to consider when buying a torch, especially if you have small children at home. Some models come with a safety switch to turn on before you press the ignition button, and some also have a knob that controls the flame size to avoid accidental burns.
Adjustable flames are a good feature to look for in a butane torch, because they allow you to vary the length of the flame depending on the task. A shorter flame is useful for detailed jewelry work, while a longer one works better for brazing or welding.
Most butane torches have a knob on the back of the head that allows you to adjust the flame length to control the heat output, which is necessary for soldering or brazing jobs. A quality torch's flame should be adjustable between a half-inch and five inches in length without sputtering or extinguishing.