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Jan 4, 2010 01:00 PM

I got a creme brulee torch for Christmas! Now where in LA can I buy FOOD GRADE butane?

There's a difference between the butane meant for heating burners/filling cigarette lighters and the kind of fuel whose flame is meant to come into direct contact with food.

Surfas has it ($2.45 for an 8oz canister) but I was hoping to find something more local (3rd and Fairfax) with longer operating hours, as Surfas is difficult for me to get to before 6pm.

Target does not sell food grade butane. Bed Bath and Beyond (Bev Center) sells butane canisters, but as fuel for lighters and burners-- not food grade butane.

Where else would you recommend going for FOOD GRADE butane? (i.e. not butane meant for cigarette lighters, hotpots, or to keep to keep chafing dishes warm).


Mr Taster

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  1. Have you checked with Bed Bath and Beyond?

    1 Reply
    1. Actually, the food grade qualifier applies to the propellant rather than the butane itself: in this case, nitrous oxide.

      "[Nitrous Oxide Uses] Aerosol propellant

      An 8g canister of nitrous oxide intended for use as a whipped cream aerating agentThe gas is approved for use as a food additive (also known as E942), specifically as an aerosol spray propellant. Its most common uses in this context are in aerosol whipped cream canisters, cooking sprays, and as an inert gas used to displace bacteria-inducing oxygen when filling packages of potato chips and other similar snack foods."

      On the minus side:

      "Nitrous oxide is also a major greenhouse gas and air pollutant. Considered over a 100 year period, it has 298 times more impact per unit weight than carbon dioxide"

      7 Replies
      1. re: RicRios

        Interesting distinction re the propellant vs the gas itself. But where to find it?

        Mr Taster

        1. re: RicRios

          So Ric, is the propane in a gas BBQ "food grade" when you get it refilled at your local gas station or tool rental store?

          1. re: Servorg

            My grandma used to say : "Fragt mir gringere kashes" [ ask me easier questions ].

            1. re: RicRios

              So, an easier question. Do you believe there is something called "food grade propane" and that it actually makes either a taste difference or a health difference when using it in producing a caramelized sugar crust on ones brulee dessert?

              1. re: Servorg

                Excellent clarification. There does seem to be a 3x filtered version of butane out there (BB&B does not sell this one) but I'm not knowledgable enough on the subject to know what exactly is filtered and in what way it contributes (or does not contribute) to flavor/safety when used with food.

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  i believe it is 3x filtered as to not gunk up the innards of the torch, but once it is burning.....kinda doesn't matter right?

                2. re: Servorg

                  No, I don't believe there's such thing as "food grade propane".
                  In fact, I've been using the same Joe Schnorrer torch for umpteen years and I'm still around.

                  [ Caveat: As somebody said once, "Don't believe anything unless it's officially denied".]

          2. Can you get a gift receipt for your torch? A much better solution is to get a simple welding torch on a propane cannister from your local hardware store. The individual tanks may be more pricey, but one of those puppies will last you lots longer than the 8oz cannisters at Surfas. Also, the flame will be bigger and easier to control. And in case you were concerned, propane is food grade - otherwise, millions of barbecue enthusiasts would be in a lot of trouble. In the same vein, butane is butane. As long as it burns completely, it's safe to use on food, which is a characteristic of the device doing the burning (e.g., your torch).

            3 Replies
            1. re: mistermocha

              Agree...if you can use propane for creme brûlée why couldn't any butane be used as long as it burns. This is the first I've heard of food grade butane. As far as a propellant isn't butane a gas?

              1. re: mistermocha

                Look, for the 1.6 times in my culinary life that I've ever said "Hm, I wish I had a kitchen torch right about now", I couldn't justify the expense for buying a cheap butane torch (which is why my dear friends bought it for me), let alone a hardware store propane torch, which I know is superior in function but obscene overkill for my purposes. If and when my purposes dictate, I will upgrade to a propane torch. In the meantime, I am not running a restaurant where I have to slam dishes out. I have no problem lovingly slaving over my creme brulee for 90 seconds rather than charring it to a crisp in three.

                So, 'no' to the gift receipt idea, and propane torches are out of the question.

                I'm looking strictly for food grade butane, as the topic indicates.

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  If that's the case, then is $2.45 really a big deal? You'll probably get years of use out of one tank. (I <3 Surfas for that kind of thing)

                  Outside of that, a plumbing torch is comparable in price to a creme brulee torch. Here's a link to one at home depot that is small and costs $35. I'm sure that there are cheaper ones out there.


              2. Have you tried Sur La Table (you'll pay a premium, of course) or Cost Plus?

                I got one last year for the holidays with cannister included and haven't run out yet, so haven't had to restock.

                2 Replies
                1. re: sku

                  Have not-- but I will check them out.

                  And you win a prize for being the first person to actually answer my question with real, practical suggestions!

                  Hooray for sku!

                  Mr Taster

                  1. re: Mr Taster

                    The simple answer would seem to be, anyplace that sells the same sort of torch will most likely carry the appropriate fuel... I use my torch frequently (fish skin, foie gras, etc) and have used the same Vector brand 320ml canister for approximately 3 years - they last a looong time. Seen it at Sur La Table, BB&B, and Surfa's.

                2. Try a camping store. I used to have a butane camp stove and that's where I would get mine.