What Gas Does a Plasma Cutter Use: Brief Guide

Feb 20, 2023 | Plasma Cutting Tips

While we receive multiple questions regarding plasma cutting, one of the most frequently asked questions is, “What gas does a plasma cutter use?” This is because the gas Hypertherm plasma cutters use will determine results, performance, and operation costs.

Knowing the different gases your plasma cutter uses and how they impact the quality of cuts can help you make the right choice. Ideally, you want to pick an option that will work well with the type of metal you are cutting.

Read on to learn all you need to know about the gases a plasma cutter uses.

What Gas Does a Plasma Cutter Use?

Plasma cutting is a simple but powerful process that involves sending an electric arc through a gas passing through the constricted opening of a copper nozzle. The electric arc creates extreme heat that increases the gas’ temperature, converting it into plasma.

In turn, the plasma’s electrical conductivity transfers the arc to the piece of metal, allowing the high-speed gas to cut the metal effortlessly.

As you can see, gas plays a crucial role in the plasma-cutting process. Yes, the metal also matters, but the gas you choose will determine the results you attain.

So, what gas does a plasma cutter use?

Here are three common options: compressed air, oxygen, and argon-hydrogen.

Compressed Air

Compressed air is a highly versatile, inexpensive option that works well with most metals, including stainless steel, mild steel, and aluminum. Additionally, you can use it as either your main gas or secondary fuel source.

Besides its cost, another advantage of compressed air is that it won’t leave behind particles as it cuts the metal.


With oxygen offering clean cuts and faster cutting speeds on carbon steel, it has become the preferred option when cutting mild steel. Furthermore, the gas works well when you combine it with secondary fuels.

Unfortunately, it is not ideal for cutting aluminum or stainless steel since it does not work on shiny surfaces.


While argon is a relatively expensive option, it does not react with the metals it cuts. As such, using it helps you improve the stability of your plasma arcs. However, due to its low conductivity, you will have to pair it with a secondary gas like hydrogen.

An argon-hydrogen mixture produces clean, straight cuts and very smooth surfaces on aluminum and stainless steel metals. On top of being a great thermal conductor, hydrogen’s properties allow it to cool molten metal quickly.

Picking the Right Gas

When picking the gas to use, you’ll need to consider a few factors, such as the material you intend to work on, your budget, and your desired cut quality.

While this process can seem overwhelming, consulting Cyrious Metal Works will help ensure you make the right choice for your application.

Thanks to our specialized expertise, we can offer the assistance you need, from showing you how plasma cutters work to helping you answer the question, “what gas does a plasma cutter use?”

Contact Cyrious Metal Works today at (903) 3451841 for all your plasma cutter inquiries.