Tips For Working Safely With Acetylene
The use of acetylene dates back to 1906. It was originally used for cutting metals as well as welding. It has since then proven itself to be one of the safest, simplest and the strongest of all fuel gases. Even so, it is important to know the best ways of working safely with acetylene.
When acetylene is mixed with oxygen, it produces a flame with a heat that can be measured up to 3150 degrees Celsius. This makes it hotter than any other fuel gas and therefore the only fuel gas that is able to weld Steel. The heat produced is also the most efficient way to cut certain metals. You should however never use acetylene when working with copper, silver or mercury.
Since acetylene is lighter than air it does not gather in low areas where it can cause potential hazards. This makes it suitable to use in underground working conditions, however it is important that the area is well ventilated and there is a system to extract any acetylene in the air.
Acetylene usually comes in a maroon coloured cylinder. The cylinders are specially designed for maximum safety. The gas has a very distinctive smell similar to garlic which means that it is easy to detect when there is a leak. If a leak is discovered is important to immediately stop all work and check that the cylinder and hoses have no leaks.
If you do find a damaged hose, it is recommended that you replace it with a new one rather than trying to repair an old hose. You should also ensure that a hose check valve is fitted. This will prevent acetylene from mixing with any oxygen present in the hoses. When using acetylene also ensure that the hoses are fully extended and that there are not any kinks or bends in the hose.
Another important safety tip when working with acetylene, is to ensure that the cylinder is kept away from any sources of heat while it is in use. Never ever direct the flame from your torch at the cylinder. Do not use a cylinder if it has been dropped or if it is showing any signs of damage and always transport any cylinder with a trolley instead of trying to roll it across the ground.
One of the hazards that can occur when using acetylene cylinders is known as a flashback. This usually occurs if oxygen mixes with the gas and it burns inside the hose. When this happens, the flame will travel back to the source of the gas which could lead to an explosion or fire. Another common hazard is a backfire. This usually happens when the flame from a torch goes back into the body of the blowpipe. Backfires are usually accompanied by popping and squealing sounds making them easier to identify.
Any of these risks as well as others can be avoided by taking all the necessary steps and precautions when using acetylene. If you have never worked with acetylene or other dangerous gas it is always advisable that you get proper training. This will help you identify the correct procedures and lead to less accidents and harm.