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Aug 20, 2009 06:37 PM

Cooking Blow Torch

Hello everybody. Can anyone suggest to me a good place to get a small little blow torch for cooking? You know, the ones most popularly used for crisping the tops of creme brulee. Also, what kind of prices am I looking at?

Thanks in advance.

Oh and by the way, I'm located in Calgary.

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  1. At a pastry class I attended, the instructor recommended buying a propane torch from a hardware store (like this one: and exercising caution and distance. Much cheaper than the small ones made specifically for crisping sugar.

    2 Replies
    1. re: aktivistin

      ^^this. just get a propane canister (like $3) and a little screw-on torch tip (like $3). that's what the pros use. heck, i think i have a few laying around the workshop collecting dust.

      1. re: nonlinear

        That is what I use aktivistin. The package I picked up a few years ago even had multiple tips; from a flat flame tip to small point. Works like a charm!

    2. Lee Valley has a couple, the butane one is only $16.50.

      I find the large propane ones too heavy for jewellery so I suspect they would be unwieldy for baking but they probably work as well.

      5 Replies
      1. re: sharonanne

        Thanks everyone for their quick and helpful suggestions. I'll probably purchase one of those propane torches as they seem to be the best deal. Just wondering if anyone has any cautionary advice or tips when using these larger propane torches.

        1. re: Hoj

          Propane torch is definitely most common in pro kitchens. There are, however, quite a few drawbacks

          First - the advantages. It's definitely hotter, quicker, more versatile (i also use to sear meat ala Heston Blumenthal method, or to quickly sear fish in a nigiri variant), and cheaper. It also is very convenient in that it lasts a very long time, unlike many butane torches which need a lot of refilling.

          The disadvantages are it's hotter, so there is less leeway for error when caramelizing sugar on creme brulee. It took me a while to stop burning the sugar. It takes up way more storage space. It also is a touch more dangerous (being under high pressure), and is a bit tougher to work with. I also have had issues in the past with the cannister upside down. When the tank is 1/2 to 1/4 full, it can start to spit a bit.

          Other issues are the heat intensity really heats up the ramakin, which can make it tough to handle. It also takes some time to shut off (unless you buy a model with the trigger).

          I own the propane torch, but to be honest, if your only purpose is to caramelize sugar for creme brulee, i would personally go with the butane torch. You can find them for cheap enough online, or in discount stores these days. If you want an all purpose kitchen tool that doubles as a plumbers torch, then propane is the way to go.

          1. re: yen

            excellent advice yen & long time no see :)

            1. re: maplesugar

              I guess it's been a while! :) I've gone back to lurker status the last year... though you're just as guilty for not being around as much! I think everyone, even John, is posting a bit less. Life is busy!

              1. re: yen

                DH has a butane torch that I've used for creme brulee... the flame is hard to see at times though - he has a perfectly round burn mark for proof.

                Life is definitely busy... we just moved to Sylvan Lake, the kids start school this week... all this and prepping & cooking 3 meals a day leaves little time for posting :)

      2. I recently bought mine at Canadian Tire for about $24, mini blow torch. It uses butane but it's pretty powerful. It's also childproof.

        1. I use a regular propane torch every day at work on brulee. Get one from home depot or crappy tire. I prefer the ones with the built in igniter, rather than the seperate hand held flint / starter. The cheapest usually includes the top, and a tank of fuel. +/- $25 is what you should expect to pay. It will last a long time. when you are making creme brulee, picture you are caramelizing in a circular pattern. put the torch on 1 o'clock for a few seconds, then two o'oclock, etc. when you move the torch onto the next spot, the sugar is still cooking on the first spot. if you did not caramelize the previous spot enough, you can always go back over it when you make your way back to it. then you just have a couple of spots in the middle to complete it.

          1. I bought the propane one from rona a few years ago but I never get to use it because every time I turn it upside down to torch something it just goes out. Anyone else experience this? Would a different tip help (I think I got the cheapest one).

            3 Replies
            1. re: rob1234

              OK, two things... first, as a woman with a serious tool box, I will chime in here and tell you that some blowtorches (i.e. the ones from hardware stores) are not designed to be used upside down and do, in fact, require an adapter in order to make them "invertible". Second, I "brulee" quite a bit and I just don't understand why you are finding it necessary to invert the torch. If the umbra of the flame is pointed directly at the surface, you're going to wind up with burning because the heat would be too intense, a more gentle angle would be preferred. If you're doing the sides of something (i.e. releasing something from a mold, the cannister can be held upright and the target can simply be raised. What am I missing here? I'm confused.

                1. re: rob1234

                  1. Try opening the valve more so the flame is stronger.
                  2. Buy a new tip, an angled one.
                  3. You mentioned "a few years ago"-does the tank still have enough propane in it?