Can Medical Oxygen Be Used For Welding?

Oxygen is an important element of atmosphere. We breath oxygen and exhales carbon dioxide. In addition to that oxygen is a required element for combustion. But the air we breath and the oxygen we use in industry to burn is not the same in proportion. The air contains 21% oxygen only. But the industrial gas is 100% pure oxygen. 

Now a question always arise that, can we use medical oxygen for welding?

The answer is “Yes, you can use medical oxygen for welding”. Medical oxygen is made for human healthcare. So, it is not recommended to use in welding.

can you weld with medical oxygen
  • Save

Medical Oxygen

Medical oxygen is a high-purity oxygen gas that is produced and purified to meet specific standards for use in healthcare settings. It typically has a purity level of 99% or higher. Medical oxygen is used to support patients with respiratory conditions or during medical procedures where supplemental oxygen is required, such as in hospitals, clinics, and ambulances.

The production and distribution of medical oxygen are regulated to ensure its quality and safety for therapeutic purposes.

Industrial oxygen

Industrial oxygen is produced for various industrial applications. It is commonly used in processes such as metal cutting, welding, and in various industries where oxygen is required for combustion or chemical reactions.

While the exact purity levels can vary, industrial oxygen typically has a high purity, often ranging from 99.5% to 99.8%. Unlike medical oxygen, industrial oxygen is not intended for human respiratory support. It is produced through processes like cryogenic distillation or pressure swing adsorption to achieve the necessary purity for industrial processes.

Can you use medical oxygen in welding?

Yes, you can use medical oxygen for combustion purpose in welding but it is prohibited to do so.

Because medical oxygen is intended for respiratory therapy and medical purposes. It is not designed or purified for welding applications. Using medical oxygen in welding can pose significant risks due to potential contaminants in the gas.

Here are key reasons why medical oxygen should not be used for welding:

  1. Purity and Contaminants: Medical oxygen is produced to meet specific purity standards for breathing purposes. While welding requires a higher level of gas purity to ensure quality welds. Medical oxygen may contain impurities or contaminants that can adversely affect the welding process and compromise the quality of the weld.
  2. Fire Hazard: Welding involves the use of an open flame or an electric arc to generate heat. If medical oxygen is used instead of welding-grade oxygen, it can significantly increase the risk of fire and combustion. Welding-grade oxygen is produced with additional precautions to minimize the risk of ignition.
  3. Regulatory Compliance: The use of medical oxygen for welding may not comply with local safety and regulatory standards. Welding operations are subject to specific regulations and standards to ensure the safety of both the welder and the surrounding environment.
  4. Weld Quality: Welding-grade oxygen is specially manufactured to provide the necessary conditions for efficient and high-quality welding. Using medical oxygen may lead to poor weld quality, increased porosity, and other welding defects.

For welding applications, it is crucial to use oxygen specifically designated for welding purposes. Welding-grade oxygen undergoes stringent purification processes to remove impurities and meet the standards required for safe and effective welding.

Always follow the guidelines provided by gas suppliers and adhere to safety regulations and standards when handling welding gases. Using the correct gases and equipment is essential for achieving optimal welding results and ensuring the safety of the welding process.

Why is oxygen used in welding?

Pure oxygen combined with Ethane is used to increase the temperature of the flame. As a result, the welding electrodes and workpieces melt easily to make the welding joint strong.

We know oxygen doesn’t burn itself. But oxygen and acetylene can produce high (~3100 degrees Celsius) temperature. Without oxygen, acetylene can’t produce this heat. Besides, burnt oxygen-acetylene mix cleans the welding surface.

What are the real differences between medical and welding oxygen?

Purity Grade

  • One of the core differences between medical and welding oxygen is their purity grade. Medical oxygen tanks contain 99 pure% oxygen
  • While industrial oxygen ranges in purity from  99.5% to 99.8%. This purity grade stands for quality.


  • Medical oxygen can be used in welding, but welding oxygen can’t be used for human breathing. The main reason is that medical oxygen is more pure than welding oxygen. There is no risk if you use pure oxygen in welding.
  • On the other hand, welding oxygen contains impurities that can be life-threatening for humans while used in medical.

Regulatory standard

  • From production to distribution, medical oxygen must undergo strict control of health authorities.
  • On the contrary, welding oxygen is made with industry regulation. But there are no strict authorities who regulates and inspects the standard like medical oxygen.

Maintenance and storage

  • The utmost precautions are important for maintaining and storing medical grade oxygen to ensure that it is safe for human health.
  • The level of maintenance and storage in industrial oxygen is not as proper as medical system. 

Flow Of the gas

  • In welding setup, oxygen flow rate is quite higher. Because the gas is combusted as it comes to the touch of arc.
  • But in medical oxygen supply rate is far lower than industrial.

Legal consideration

  • Using medical oxygen cylinders in an industrial setting may have legal and regulatory implications, and it is generally not recommended due to safety concerns.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Compliance: 

  • In the United States, OSHA sets workplace safety standards. Using medical cylinders instead of industrial-grade oxygen may lead to non-compliance with OSHA regulations, resulting in penalties and legal consequences.

Manufacturer Guidelines:

  • Gas suppliers have specific guidelines for the intended use of their products. Using medical oxygen for purposes other than those specified by the manufacturer may breach contractual agreements and terms of use.

Is there any danger in using medical oxygen in welding?

Yes, there are dangers in using medical oxygen for welding. Medical oxygen is not suitable for welding applications due to potential contaminants and its lack of adherence to welding-grade purity standards.

This can result in safety hazards, poor weld quality, and legal and regulatory issues. Always use the appropriate oxygen grade for welding.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

1. Is medical grade oxygen the same as welding oxygen?

No, medical-grade oxygen is not the same as welding oxygen. While both are oxygen gases, medical-grade oxygen is purified to meet specific standards for therapeutic use, while welding oxygen is produced for industrial applications like metal cutting and welding.

2. Is medical grade oxygen 100% oxygen?

Medical-grade oxygen is typically not 100% pure oxygen. It is commonly produced with a purity level of 99% or higher.

3. Is liquid oxygen used for welding?

Yes, liquid oxygen can be used for welding. In certain applications, oxygen is stored and transported in liquid form, which is then vaporized for use in welding processes. Liquid oxygen is more dense than gaseous oxygen, allowing for greater storage capacity in a given volume.

4. Is medical oxygen flammable?

No, medical oxygen itself is not flammable. Oxygen supports combustion, meaning it enhances the combustion of flammable materials.

5. Does medical oxygen expire?

Medical oxygen, when properly stored and handled, does not expire in the same way that perishable goods might. However, medical oxygen cylinders typically have a shelf life or expiration date based on the cylinder’s manufacturing standards and safety considerations

Final Words

Medical oxygen is dedicated to pure gas to boost human breathing. Although you can use medical oxygen for welding, it is not the best practice. Medical oxygen for welding has some pros and cons. But overall, you should not use it for welding purposes except for any emergency.

Leave a Comment

Share via
Copy link