Heat torches are a type of device that can be used to increase the temperature of a variety of different substances. It can be used for everything from a hobbyist application to a large industrial operation. Hand held heat torches are sometimes referred to as heat guns since the configuration of these devices is similar to that of a gun. Heat guns are often used in hobbyist applications or for soldering purposes. Other uses for heat torches include medical devices, large scale curing or drying of different substances, and specialized plasma torches can also be used in the construction industry.
Many small heat torches look similar to a gun and can be held in one hand. These devices work similarly to hair dryers, and electric heat guns use the same type of coils to create heat through electrical resistance. This type of heat torch does not use a flame and can be useful in a number of different hobbyist and commercial applications, such as smoothing wrinkles in leather or activating heat shrink tubing. These devices often come with a variety of attachments that can create a very accurate stream of hot air for delicate work, such as soldering. Other heat guns use butane or other fuels to generate flameless heat in the same manner.
Jewelers often use heat torches to solder metals such as copper, sterling silver, and gold. Flameless heat guns are sometimes used in these applications, though a heat torch with a visible flame is commonly chosen instead. The type of heat torches that are used in lapidary applications are usually fueled by butane or propane instead of the electric coils used in many heat guns. One reason that torches are commonly used to solder metals for jewelry is that the temperatures required are very high, and a heat torch can create an even temperature across the entire surface of a piece. This can provide a more desirable result than using a soldering iron or gun.
Medical devices have also made use of heat torches, particularly in the sealing of cuvettes. A cuvette is a container that can be used for spectroscopic testing of substances, such as blood. One use for a medical heat torch is to automatically form and seal a cuvette, which allows blood to be drawn and stored for testing in a single device. Medical heat torches are typically far more precise than those used in lapidary, hobbyist, or even most commercial applications.