Since 1955, the plasma cutting process is a well-known technique that allows you to cut through metals that conduct electricity. It is a comparatively faster way of cutting than most other methods. To get a perfect cut, you must choose everything needed. The set-up should also be right.

A plasma cutter needs gases to cut the metals. It passes the heated gas through the electrodes, which is up to around 30 thousand degrees F. Based on various metals and thickness, different gases are necessary. While a specific gas can provide smooth cutting to a metal, it can leave a rough result on another. So, without further ado, let’s look at various gases people use with plasma cutters.

Compressed Air

You may have heard of air compressors made especially for plasma cutting projects. A plasma cutter having an air compressor attached can be an excellent tool for cutting stainless steel. Suitable for metals up to 1-inch, compressed air is the most known plasma cutting gas out there. It can also be due to the availability of air around us.

Although you can find clean shop airs. Or you can install an air filter to filter out any moisture or oil. As a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen, the air is a really adaptive plasma cutting gas. However, it leaves oxidization on the stainless steel.


Nitrogen is a gas known for its capability to cut stainless steel or aluminum metal alloys. People use nitrogen gas for higher current plasma cutting operations. The workpiece metal needs to have a thickness of 3 inches or lower to use nitrogen on it. They cut aluminum and stainless steel so quickly and leaves a smooth cut. It is also an ideal cutting gas for carbon steel.


If you have some carbon steel at hand to cut, go for oxygen gas. Yes, oxygen costs much than most gases. But when cut with it, your carbon steel will have the great cutting edges that you desire. Well, oxygen is not a gas to cut stainless steel or aluminum since they end up with rough edges.

But for other metals, oxygen can tackle up to 1.75 inches of thickness. As you cut with oxygen, your effort will be low as there will be little to no drosses to clean. Oxygen also cuts very fast when used on carbon steel. Remember that you can mix oxygen to nitrogen to improve its capability at cutting thicker metals.


Widely used in industries, hydrogen cuts up metals with a quick speed. It has three prime benefits. Firstly, hydrogen gas stops the spreading of carbon-di-oxide and thus helps nature. It can absorb a pretty high temperature, which allows people to use it on thick metals. Lastly, due to its fast-paced cutting speed, gas can be used in production companies.

Highly suitable for all types of electrically conductive metals, hydrogen gas provides an excellent cutting finish. You can easily remove the drosses produced from hydrogen gas.


Argon is an inert gas that plasma cutters use for cutting stainless steel and aluminum. Carbon steel is not an ideal metal for argon. The metals must be at least 0.5 inches thick for argon gas. Having low heat-resistance, people often use it with hydrogen.


If you want to have the quality cutting result out of your plasma cutter, you got to choose the most suited gas. You have probably noticed that many gases are suitable for multiple metal types. In that case, you can pick the more affordable one. Compressed air is a wise choice as it goes with all metal types while also offering the best outcome. Moreover, you don’t have to spend much money on it.