Oxy-fuel welding (commonly called oxyacetylene welding, oxy welding, or gas welding in the U.S.) and oxy-fuel cutting are processes that use fuel gases and oxygen to weld and cut metals, respectively. French engineers Edmond Fouché and Charles Picard became the first to develop oxygen-acetylene welding in 1903.
Pure oxygen, instead of air, is used to increase the flame temperature to allow localized melting of the workpiece material (e.g. steel) in a room environment. A common propane/air flame burns at about 2,250 K (1,980 °C; 3,590 °F), a propane/oxygen flame burns at about 2,526 K (2,253 °C; 4,087 °F), an oxyhydrogen flame burns at 2,800 °C (5,070 °F), and an acetylene/oxygen flame burns at about 3,773 K (3,500 °C; 6,332 °F).
Oxy-fuel is one of the oldest welding processes, besides forge welding. In recent decades it has been obsolesced in most all industrial uses due to various arc welding methods offering more consistent mechanical weld properties and faster application. Gas welding is still used for metal-based artwork and in smaller home based shops, as well as situations where accessing electricity (e.g., via an extension cord or portable generator) would present difficulties.
In oxy-fuel welding, a welding torch is used to weld metals. Welding metal results when two pieces are heated to a temperature that produces a shared pool of molten metal. The molten pool is generally supplied with additional metal called filler. Filler material depends upon the metals to be welded.
In oxy-fuel cutting, a torch is used to heat metal to its kindling temperature. A stream of oxygen is then trained on the metal, burning it into a metal oxide that flows out of the kerf as slag.
Torches that do not mix fuel with oxygen (combining, instead, atmospheric air) are not considered oxy-fuel torches and can typically be identified by a single tank (oxy-fuel cutting requires two isolated supplies, fuel and oxygen). Most metals cannot be melted with a single-tank torch. Consequently, single-tank torches are typically suitable for soldering and brazing but not for welding.