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Product Review: Sterno Professional Culinary Torch

January 28, 2014 , In: Metalsmithing, Studio
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When I took my class with Richard Salley last fall, he introduced me to a new kind of butane torch that has become my go-to torch for most of my soldering work.

This is the Sterno model culinary torch, which runs between $22 and $23 on Amazon. I’m kicking myself a little bit that I didn’t think of this myself – I certainly know enough serious cooks and have seen this in operation in more than one kitchen, but I never made the connection to using it in the studio. It screws directly onto a can of butane, which means no stopping for refills.

Here’s the Sterno in comparison to the other types of torches you’re probably used to seeing – and as you can tell, it’s quite a bit larger than the others.

The flame is considerably more robust, which is a really good thing when working on larger pieces.

My friend and partner Gail Stouffer (r) with one of her students in a recent class

And even though the butane canister is much larger than the barrel of the largest butane torch I’d been using, it’s really quite comfortable to hold. Even better, one canister lasts a really long time – this torch has been through several classes with multiple students and I’m using it today without any loss of pressure. (Tip: remove the torch from the canister when storing to avoid any potential for slow leaks.)

I’ve also found that first-time solderers often find this torch less intimidating than some of the others, in spite of its size, in part because it’s easier to hold and has a simpler on/off mechanism. My new friend and student Kaitlyn, pictured above, made a large and somewhat complex ring without any difficulty using this torch – her ring is the one on the right. (Didn’t she do a great job??)
So if you’re looking for a torch for your studio, or you’re thinking about a larger one for bigger work, I highly recommend the Sterno. It’s more than reasonably priced, and a single can of butane – at only a few dollars – will last you quite a while in a normal studio setting.
I’m heading back to the studio to get ready for the Roadhouse grand opening on Friday, February 7. If there’s any chance you’re going to be in the Austin/San Antonio area, I’d love for you to stop by and say hello!!
Until next time –

Francesca Watson

Francesca Watson got bit by the jewelry-making bug in 2008, when she and a few girlfriends took a simple stringing class at a local bead shop. Now, she is co-owner of The Makery, a working and teaching studio and gallery in the Texas Hill Country outside San Antonio where Francesca creates and teaches metals, wire and enameling full time, and indulges an emerging interest in mixed media. She and her husband Nick have been married since 1989 and have one grown daughter.
  1. Reply

    Dang. Where was this post a week ago, Miss Francesca!? I had seen a torch like that in a class, but couldn't for the life of me figure out where to learn more. Even did some searching, and couldn't find it! I did just purchase a Max Flame torch from Beaducation, but I have my eye on this torch because I love the simplicity! Thank you for sharing! Enjoy the day. Erin

  2. Reply

    I bought a new torch a few months ago, that was more expensive than this and not nearly as effective. Sigh. I'll have to remember this one for future use. Good luck with the Grand Opening. I hope you have lots of people coming to check it out!!!

  3. Reply

    I second your recommendation Francesca. Yup this is the one I used in Richard's Making an Impression class . Really easy and powerful flame. I already have a Blazer and Max Flame which I love. But I want to get back to playing with plumbers solder. So thanks for reminding me of this – must pull out my notes.
    Congrats and good luck with the grand opening – which my state was closer to yours!

  4. Reply

    Thank you if I ever do buy a torch (although I think I have told you I am not allowed to play with fire) I will keep this one in mind!

  5. Reply

    Thanks for this post. I had bought a small culinary torch on Amazon. Then I took a class and the teacher indicated she wouldn't use that torch and didn't think it was very safe. The barrel is not metal. So I've been looking at the Max Flame torch, but like the idea of this, too since you wouldn't have to refill it.

  6. Reply

    Thanks so much for this info and recommendation. The world of torches is very intimidating and confusing. I'm certainly ready for a bigger torch, but didn't know where to turn. Now I do!

  7. Reply

    Whee! I just order this torch from Amazon. In my online search, a great youtube video popped up about safety and using it. Well worth watching.

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