video Build a Fire Tornado!
Build a fire tornado from simple tools and materials.  

Also, check out my follow up to this instructible where I build a GIANT fire tornado!

  • 4 x 3/4" PVC pipe - 2 feet long
  • 4 x 3/4" PVC end plugs
  • 4 x 3/4" PVC couplings
  • 1 Turntable / Lazy Susan
  • Aluminum window screen (do not use plastic or fiberglass!)
  • Old soup can
  • Small chunk of sponge
  • Epoxy
  • Aluminum Tape
AJMansfield11 months ago
Were you, by any chance, at the 2013 Boy Scout National Jamboree in West Virginia?
rickosgood (author)  AJMansfield8 months ago

I'm sorry it took so long to reply to this message. I somehow missed it. You must be thinking of a different person because I wasn't there, sorry!

avergara lopez11 months ago
Awesome! Great explanation!
blodefood11 months ago
Great 'ible! I want to make this! Could you avoid the aluminium tape and thread some thin wire to hold the screening. I am just thinking that visually, it is more pleasing to have an unobstructed view of the flame. Also, in your materials list the sponge is not there. I wonder if you could use some other material to hold the alcohol that would not burn itself once the alcohol burns out and would be reusable.

This would be a nice decorative item if one could motorise the turntable.
papagun blodefood11 months ago
I would investigate using 1/2" hardware cloth or similar to make a cylinder and then attach the screen to that. Then one could use mechanical fasteners to attach the cylinder to the turntable and sew the screen with thin wire to the hardware cloth. I have used tampons as fuel"holders" in making torches. Also stainless steel or copper scrub pads would work in the can. Don't use steel wool though as it burns.

In using the PVC, you could drill and screw the caps tp the turntable instead of epoxy.
rickosgood (author)  blodefood11 months ago
Thank you! I think using some kind of wire would work well. The tape kind of wears off after a while anyway and isn't as effective as I wish it would be. I'll add the sponge into the materials. I've seen people make these using old record player turn tables as an easy way to motorize them. You can sometimes find those at thrift stores inexpensively.
chuckyd11 months ago
If you could place the tin can on the top of a larger cylinder, I believe you can attach the screen wire to that, and let it support itself, thus eliminating the plastic pipes.
bd511 months ago
Neat tornado! Would it burn better if you popped a few holes in the bottom of the can?
mjursic bd511 months ago
It would burn hotter, and therefore the flame would tend to blue rather than orange. This concept depends on an inefficient burn, because the unburned alcohol droplets need to be borne up on the warm air, then catch fire in the middle,higher.
rickosgood (author)  mjursic11 months ago
Thanks for the great information! I wasn't 100% sure at how this was working although I offered my best explanation in the video. This makes sense to me. It sounds like if there was a slight updraft it would possibly help make the tornado to be taller.
mjursic rickosgood11 months ago
No, the opposite, actually. If there was an updraft, the flame would burn much lower but hotter. You want an inefficient flame that blasts a bunch of uncombusted droplets high enough that they can secondarily combust.
rickosgood (author)  bd511 months ago
That's a good idea. I'll have to experiment with that and see if it burns better (taller would be nice).
RossTheGreat11 months ago
Hey guys- I know what I'm blowing my next 20 bucks on.
Well spoken, Ross. Me too!
mjursic11 months ago
Great instructable!
Housedog11 months ago
Pretty cool Rick!
Bill WW11 months ago
Nice work, Rick. Your use of the video to explain the concept and building is a valid one.
I'll have to think a while about you explanation, seems logical.

Go Ducks.
rickosgood (author)  Bill WW11 months ago
Thank you! I was wondering if anyone would comment on the shirt ;)
tsturtevant11 months ago
Few ideas. Epoxy Breaks down at about 375 - 400 Degrees so for a long burn it might pull loose. Quick set epoxy is not fully waterproof. Something to insulate the can from the board would be a good safety idea. A Small trivet? Bolt the can to the board. Also bolt the PVC caps as well. Use light wire to cinch the screen. Think about an old turntable - or power by a small battery operated screw gun - Love the effect!
rickosgood (author)  tsturtevant11 months ago
Wow that's a lot of great ideas and great information. Thank you. I'll keep the temperature constraints in mind when I use epoxy in the future. I agree that using wire to cinch the screen would work better than tape. The tape only held for a limited time but I was trying to use what I had available to me at the time.
Rodney779911 months ago
My phone won't play the videos from Instructable's. Thanks for the follow up tho.
My phone won't play it either. it's the phone's limitations. Must be seen on a PC
Felix 86111 months ago
veeeeery cool! it would be great if you mount an electric engine with voltage regulator to increase or decrease velocity! :D
rickosgood (author)  Felix 86111 months ago
Thank you! That's a great idea. I have seen people build these using an old record turntable before to do exactly that.
Rodney779911 months ago
I thought these were supposed to be instructables? This is clearly just a list of parts. :(
rickosgood (author)  Rodney779911 months ago
The instructable is in the video. It goes through the whole build process. I called out the parts list separate to make it easier to see what is needed. Sorry if this is not your preferred format.