How to Use Heat to Remove a Stuck Bolt


Some bolts just won’t budge. They are stuck, seized, stubborn, rusted, corroded, and otherwise impossible to remove. There are a number of oils and penetrants that can really help, and a good soaking should always be your first line of attack. If those actions fail, however, it may be time to break out the propane torch and use some heat.

To remove a really stuck bolt, get some good penetrant—nothing works like PB Blaster—and a propane torch, available at any hardware or automotive stores. You can also use a butane torch, but it’s a little cheaper and easier to go with the propane.

Safety Tip

Be extremely careful with an open flame! Never use an open flame near a fuel or brake line. Flammable fluids and open flame don’t mix. The flame will burn anything rubber it comes into contact with, including trim, seals, and wire sheathing. It will also ruin paint instantly.

Assemble Your Torch

Be sure to close the valve before you screw the nozzle onto the tank.

Matt Wright

Whether you purchase a preassembled torch or a kit, try to get one with a built-in igniter. Otherwise, you’ll have to purchase a separate hand spark, and that’s just one more thing to keep track of. If you bought a kit, you’ll need to screw the nozzle onto the top of the enclosed propane tank.

Be sure to turn the valve on the nozzle all the way to the right—the “Closed” position—before you screw it onto the tank. If you neglect to close the valve, you’ll start to lose gas as soon as you screw it on.

Otherwise, don’t worry about leaking propane. The tank will remain sealed until the nozzle is all the way on. At most, you may catch a whiff of gas in the air.

Before you light your torch, spray the stuck joint with PB Blaster penetrating oil. Give it a few minutes to work before you apply heat.

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