Bug Repellent Jar Torches





Introduction: Bug Repellent Jar Torches

About: I like trying new things and cheaper or better ways of doing old things. I like making things out of natural materiales such as wood, antlers, shells, clay, etc. but I also have an interest in synthetic poly...

We got eaten alive this week, not a fun way to start the summer. I have been meaning to plant a border garden around the yard with insect repelling plants, but that project is still a little ways from being done and we needed something right away.
I figured tiki torches would be good but I wasn't about to pay $5 a piece for cheap torches that don't really match the yard anyway. So I came up with this using things that are common around most houses. Admittedly most of the stuff in this instructable is nothing new; but I had never seen all of these components all together in one project so I thought I'd share it.

Step 1: Materials

There isn't much to this one, you might not even have to go to the store for this part list:

-Jars with lids; what size is up to you

-Food coloring; I used liquid but I think paste works too

-School glue (like elmers)

-Torch fuel

-Old shirt (or some other wick material)

-Clear coat; I like the cheap rattle can stuff in gloss or high gloss

Optional: Wire for making handles to hang from

Step 2: Color the Glass

Mix a few drops of food coloring with about 1/2 Tbsp of glue (there are tons of tutorials on painting glass with food coloring and glue all over the Internet, if you have a ratio that you like then go with that instead if you like). Brush it on the outside of the glass and let it dry. Mine took a long time (like 30 min) and it left a few streaks, but I just went over it again and it looked fine.

Step 3: Add the Wick

While your glass is drying cut your old shirt into strips about 1/4 in wide by whatever length you want.
Poke holes in the centers of your lids using a nail, make sure the holes are big enough that the wicks can easily fit through but not so big that they will not stay put. You can see in the picture that I made my holes a little oblong, I did this by wiggling the nail side to side and I feel like it helps hold it in place with out restricting the upflow of the fuel.
Now just thread the wick through the hole so that there is about 1/4 in sticking out the top and it's ready to be put on the jar.

Step 4: Gloss/Seal

Before putting a clear coat on the glass the color is not water proof; which isn't very helpful for something that's going to be outside a lot. The clear coat also makes the color look more realistic as well, it makes it less foggy and it evens out lighter and darker spots.
Lightly spray the clear coat onto the jars; too much will kind of wash the color off so be mindful of that.

Step 5: Put It All Together

When it's all dry add the fuel; I just bought mine at Walmart, but there are probably a few recipes floating around online for good bug repellency.
Screw the lid on and let it sit for a few minutes to allow the fuel time to soak to the top of the wick.
Once it's soaked to the top you can begin using it, or you can make a simple handle out of wire for hanging it somewhere. I didn't do that to all of them because I wanted to place a few on the picnic table.
Anyway, they work great and I really like how they ended up looking. I hope you like it too and thanks for reading!

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    silly question - how do you put them out??? I made a bunch of them, they really work well, but we are having trouble putting them out when we are ready to come back in the house? Thanks for the great instructable

    3 replies

    i have not made one of these, but i have much experience with torches. the key is to kill off any oxygen from getting to the flame, so any sort of glass or even another solid mason jar lid covering up the flame will put it out.

    Thanks for the comment, that's good to know!

    i wonder if u could add coloring to the oil instead of painting the jars?

    1 reply

    Hmm, that's an interesting idea... As long as the colorant was safe to burn it seems like it would work well

    my wick burnt right down to the lid and went out in less than a minute - ideas?

    3 replies

    When that happens it means the oil hasn't fully saturated the wick. Let it soak in the oil for about 15 to 20 minutes before lighting it. If it takes longer than that then try widening the hole in the lid a little bit because it might be tight enough that it's restricting the upflow of the oil.

    Thanks I did figure it out on my own finally... it wasn't a saturation problem it was fully saturated. The fabric I made my wick of was a loose weave. When I swapped out a wick made of T shirt cotton it works beautifully.

    Oh ok. That's good to know that loose weave doesn't work. Thanks for letting me know and I'm glad you got it working!

    In regular glass, maybe. But these are caning jars which are made of tempered glass, they are made to be placed in a pot of boiling water. And although these torches will get warm, they are still cool enough to pick them up because most of the heat is in the flame above the glass rather than the oil. Torches similar to this are very common in parts of the world where electricity is not available and they are pretty safe unless they get knocked over. Of course it's always good to be on the safe side of things, thanks for your comment

    These are cute. I didn't know there was torch oil with bug repellent!

    4 replies

    It has citronella and pine oil in it, both of which repel insects. I will say on the label if it has those or other ingredients for repelling pests.

    You can buy citranalla and add it for more kick.

    Until recently I didn't either. It seems to work pottery well and smells good too

    Great idea! I think I'll make a few for the Fathers Day cook out! And if you punch the hole into the lid from the bottom, the ragged edges of the metal won't catch the fabric as easily when you pull the wick up on subsequent uses.

    1 reply

    Good idea! I will remember that for next time.

    Very good idea! I've made oil lamps out of jars too. I made a tiny hole next to the wick so that air can escape when the jar heats up. If pressure builds up in the jar, it might push up oil which might burn or drip down and make a mess.