Whether you’re a fan of barbecuing or welding, you’ll know that the gas you choose matters. But how much do you know about the different gases available? Most people opt to use either MAPP gas or propane. The problem is, the choice is usually driven by habit rather than an awareness of what each type offers. If you want your next purchase to be an informed decision rather than a mindless habit, here’s what you need to know about MAPP gas vs propane.
What is MAPP Gas?
Before looking at the pros and cons of each type of gas, it’s worth understanding what each one actually is. MAPP gas is made by blending methylacetylene propadiene and liquefied petroleum. It has a huge variety of industrial uses, including welding and soldering. It’s also popular with chefs, who commonly use it for barbecuing, grilling, and searing.
What is Propane Gas?
While MAPP gas isn’t a name that’s familiar to many people outside the industrial and catering sectors, propane gas is a name we all know. Propane is a by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining and comes from the same family of liquefied petroleum gases as butane, propylene, butadiene, butylene, and isobutylene. Although its burning temperature is lower than fuels like gasoline and coal, it’s affordable and clean, making it a popular choice of gas for generators, outdoor heating, and BBQs.
Which is the Better Choice?
Asked to choose which is the better, MAPP gas or propane, most people will choose the latter. But in a lot of cases, the decision is influenced more by the fact that propane is the better known of the two than anything else. But that isn’t to say it doesn’t offer some singular benefits. For a start, its low burning temperature allows chefs greater control over the finished product. As venchas.com notes, it’s also compatible with soft soldering copper pipes, making it a popular choice in the industrial sector. MAPP gas, meanwhile, has plenty of perks of its own. While the low burning temperature of propane might afford chefs greater control over their food, propane has a habit of leaving a lingering aftertaste – something MAPP gas manages to avoid. Its ability to reach 3,700 degrees F, meanwhile, makes it the preferable choice for blowtorches. Unquestionably, each type of gas comes with a good bunch of advantages. But which one has the most?
Mapp Gas Vs. Propane
MAPP gas might be more expensive than propane, but do its advantages outweigh the cost difference? Or does propane come off the winner?
- Cooking – One of the chief selling points of MAPP gas is its high burning temperatures. While propane has a maximum temperature of 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit, MAPP gas can reach temperatures of 3,730 degrees Fahrenheit. The upshot of this is that MAPP gas cooks food much faster. For chefs looking to sear steaks and meats in a hurry, it’s the natural choice – which may explain why it’s regularly used by some of the world’s top chefs. As an added benefit, MAPP gas doesn’t leave a gassy smell or residue on food… something that propane all too often does. But while MAPP gas might cook food faster, some people prefer the lower burning temperatures of propane, which offers greater control over the cooking process. MAPP gas might cook a steak faster, but there’s a greater risk of the meat becoming overdone. While professional chefs might be able to handle the high heat of MAPP gas, others can find it difficult to handle.
- Price and Availability – While efficiency is an important consideration, so is the price. As My Backyard Life (mybackyardlife.com/mapp-gas-vs-propane/) explains, propane gas is a firm favorite with many for the simple reason that it’s so cheap to buy. MAPP gas, by comparison, is much more expensive.
- It’s the same story when it comes to availability. Production of MAPP gas in North America actually ceased in 2008. Most gases labeled MAPP are substitutes (typically referred to as MAPP Pro gas) made from propylene and trace amounts of propane. Sourcing can be challenging, with the result that many opt for propane out of convenience.
- Safety – When you’re using fuel that can burn at over 3600 degrees Fahrenheit, safety is obviously a concern. Propane has a long history of being used in cooking. As it burns at a lower temperature than MAPP gas, it affords greater control to people who are inexperienced at using such a hot flame. In industrial applications, it stands less chance of melting other metals (MAPP gas can easily and quickly burn any metals that come into its path), posing a reduced safety hazard.
- Industry – As Hunker explains, MAPP gas was traditionally seen as less than ideal for welding steel due to its high hydrogen content. It’s high burning temperature also made it unsafe for soldering. Since MAPP gas was replaced by MAPP Pro gas, the picture has changed. As MAPP Pro gas heats cooper faster than propane and at a higher temperature, it’s considered a superior option to propane (although it’s advised to use a specially designed torch for safety). With the addition of oxygen, a MAPP Pro gas flame can burn at 5,200 degrees Fahrenheit, making it useful for cutting and welding steel.
Both MAPP gas (or, more accurately, its substitutes) and propane are popular choices in both industry and cooking. As to which is best… it depends. For experienced cooks who can handle extreme temperatures, MAPP gas is often seen as the preferable choice. It cooks faster, sears meat to perfection, and doesn’t leave any lingering smell of gas. When it comes to soldering copper pipe and cutting and welding steel, the high burning temperature of MAPP gas makes it stand out from the competition.
But none of that is to say that propane doesn’t have its own unique charms. For a start, it’s cheaper and more readily available. There’s also the fact that many inexperienced or causal cooks prefer the increased control they get over the cooking process with propane. Ultimately, there’s no clear winner. It all comes down to your experience and your preferences. If you’re looking for a cheap, readily available gas that offers superior control and safety, stick to propane. If you’re an experienced hand with a need for speed, you’ll probably prefer MAPP gas. Both gases have their applications – it’s simply a question of deciding which suits you best.