During operation of a welding torch (10), electrode wire (17) travels through a contact tip assembly (14) directly into a weld area. The torch (10) is exposed to elevated temperatures which can cause damage from weld spatter and increased deterioration of the assembly (14). In the welding torch (10), a liquid is delivered onto an expansion element (44) and gasifies owing primarily to the elevated welding temperatures at the expansion element (44). The result is to cool the assembly (14) and substantially overcome the problems of temperature. In a nozzle (18) equipped torch (10), the nozzle (18) directs a portion of the gasified liquid to the welding area for shielding the welding operation.