Introduction: Fire "Beacon"

Picture of Fire "Beacon"

These are two Beacons which make a bright flame and can be used for anything you need that uses a bright flame but I use them as a replacement for lamps while camping. They are light and easy to make and fire is always more comforting than a propane light. They will go for at least
three or four hours and you can also cook on them if you don't mind dirtying up a pot or two.

Step 1: Things That You Will Need and Probabally Already Have

Picture of Things That You Will Need and Probabally Already Have

You will need:
1) A can of some sort (if making a cooking one use a tuna can).
2) Wax can be any kind of wax but candle wax is best. Keep in mind that you will use about the same amount of wax as the volume of your beacon so you might need a lot.
3) Cardboard. Can be any kind of card board but I will be using corrugated card board.(again if using it for cooking use card stock)
4) Newspaper. (it gets messy)
5) Something to melt the wax in as melting wax in cookware probably is not good for you and at the very least it will make cleanup easier.
6) an assortment of tools (tape measure, hack saw, pliers)

Step 2: Measure and Cut the Can

Picture of Measure and Cut the Can

Now we need to measure and cut the can, I chose two inches but you can successfully go plus or minus half an inch.
The trade off is between duration (being too short) and being too heavy and not burning all the way ( too tall).
Cutting a can can be frustrating as putting it in a vice bends it and holding it means you might not get a straight cut but I found a way to fix that in the next step.

Step 3: Round the Edges

Picture of Round the Edges

If you made a bad cut in step two you now have a chance to redeem yourself.
I found a way to round the edges and correct any cutting errors you may have made in one easy step.
Use pliers to bend the edges in and then crimp them down solidly. Bend the edges more where you cut too high and vice-versa where you cut too low. This will also move any sharp edges away from you and leave a nice rounded feel.

Step 4: The Cardboard

Picture of The Cardboard

next measure cardboard to the height of your beacon and coil it inside your can.
I did it in several strips and I let the strips uncoil on their own so that there are many spaces for the wax. I built these before and I packed in as much cardboard as possible and they slowly went out because of ash build up from the excessive cardboard. the cardboard will act as a giant wick for the beacon and will let it get hot enough to melt the wax.

Step 5: Melting the Wax

Picture of Melting the Wax

Now it's time to melt the wax. Spread out the newspaper because melted wax is nasty stuff and does not clean off anything easily. You can melt the wax any way you like but I suggest to use a double boiler in which you put your jar in a pot with a bit of water in it and boil the water. This stops the wax from boiling and possibly catching fire. As the wax melts put more in so you can do the melting process fewer times as it takes a while to melt all the wax. Use the stick to stir the wax and push unmelted pieces to the bottom to get melted.

Step 6: Pouring the Wax

Picture of Pouring the Wax

Pour carefully and let it overflow slightly to ensure the can is saturated.
I put candle wicks into my beacons because there was a long wick in the candle I melted down and it will be easier to start.

Step 7: Last Step

Picture of Last Step

You are almost done!
Now to finish up you can pack some extra wax which over flowed into the beacons.
Now you are done and can go out and enjoy your very own Beacon.


ParaGunner1324 (author)2014-01-30

Use parafin. It works best. And wind as tight as you can. It will go through the holes in the cardboard anyway.

SIRJAMES09 (author)2011-12-22


If you freeze wax, it becomes extremely brittle & will easily come off of anything it can not soak into. IE: clothing it will soak into & you will never ever get it all out. but porcelain, glass, etc., it will come off easily(usually anyway) after it's been in the freezer.

SIRJAMES09 (author)2011-12-22

ok, a double boiler is used for safety when melting wax as you well know(or should anyway)....

what about doing this outside(so you do not burn down the house), and have the can sitting atop a candle warmer, which will keep the wax in its liquid state as you continue to fill the can?

My reasoning behind this is to saturate the cardboard INSIDE the can....

Or is my idea just plain wacky?

SIRJAMES09 (author)2011-12-22

I have yet to figure out how it can be done, but I was thinking about soaking the cardboard in the wax till it's saturated, then rolling it up & placing it in the can....

But like i said, I don't have all the details worked out yet... :0(

I'll have to work on that... ;0)

Sim23_10 (author)2007-02-24

I made something similar just with a kiwi shoe polish tin. Works well becuase you have a lid/snuffer.

jeffconnelly (author)Sim23_102008-02-25

If tou light it, let it catch, then put on the lid, it would stay warm for a while, kind of like some kinds of hand warmers. ???Maybe???

SIRJAMES09 (author)jeffconnelly2011-12-22

not a bad idea for the short term....

Matteo L (author)jeffconnelly2008-05-29

melted wax = not very nice

good idea but i think it would be tricky making a heat resistant water tight lid

carrierpilot1357 (author)2009-01-19

another idea: put some cotton swabs in the tin instead, and put some kind of cooking oil in ex.olive oil,corn oil,etc... and then light it. then it is easier and quicker to refill and you dont dont have to melt wax and all that. but then it would not be as portable because there would be liquid inside it.


And, it would burn up a lot slower producing a lot less brighter flame, making it hard to see if you wanted to read at night.


if you can get a tuna sized can with a air tight lid, it would make it more portable.....

See my instructable which solves this problem

Gonazar (author)2008-07-29

I tried this for a hot air balloon experiment but it wasn't creating hot enough air. When I asked my teacher she said that by putting holes in the side, not quite sure where (most likely the rim), it would increase the amount of oxygen going into the flame allowing it to get much hotter. Although when i thought about it, it might not work because the cardboard would be right against the edge so it would block flow anyways. Maybe yours worked better because the cardboard was above the rim of the tin?

El Mano (author)Gonazar2009-08-22

If you did use holes, you would want them at the bottom part of the can, allowing them to suck air up into the flames (which would both feed the flames and project them higher).

SIRJAMES09 (author)El Mano2011-12-22

there's just 1 small problem with that idea...

gravity has a tendency to pull things(liquids & solids both) downward. meaning, wax is going to be at the bottom of the can so even if you did put holes at the bottom, it would have to be done after the wax is added & then the wax would still impede the flow of air.

SIRJAMES09 (author)Gonazar2011-12-22

the "holes" that exist in corrugated cardboard, naturally create a vacume sucking in air as the thing burns creating a bright light....

when exposed to the wind, makes it even more bright because of more air getting to the heart of the flame.

Aklash, The hunchback (author)2010-02-24

 Could one use pine pitch instead of wax?

Most definitely. Pine pitch would actually be cheaper, but prolly more work....

Personally, I like the pitch would serve as a stronger flame, brighter flame & the smell of pine...I love the smell of pine. :)

Captain Dyson (author)2009-05-25

nice would saturating it with paraffin of something then putting it in a freezer bag work better thought. non the less I will be using a variation to this as a fire starter in the near future

theta64 (author)2009-04-20

How long do these burn?

fabrivassa (author)2009-02-21

ciao matteo

el greeno (author)2009-01-15

We used to make somthing similar when i was in scouts. Used tobacco tins and corrugated card. We would pack the cardboard much tighter though, and just hold a lit candle over them to fill them up. We would fill them much more than you have, and when lit they would last for about 3 hours, hot enough to cook over with thin walled utensils (or more often than not with twig and aluminium foil "frying pans").

Your Average Guy (author)2008-08-11

Could you try this with an altoids tin, but keep a book of matches under the lid so its like an emergency fire kit? I might try this.

proffesor cuddles (author)2008-06-13

these things are great!

proffesor cuddles (author)2008-01-28

do you think that this could emit enough hot air to lift a small hot air balloon?

sure they make a lot of heat but they are quite heavy as they are mostly tin can and wax maybe an alcohol stove would be a lighter solution to your balloon problem

thanks a ton

B-radical_pyro (author)2007-07-03

how am i supposed to light it?

Matteo L (author)B-radical_pyro2008-05-29

ya just light the edge of the cardboard and it will spread to the whole thing in a few minutes

with fire

ghostguard7 (author)2008-04-15

Very good. I love seeing posts like this that have the most rudimentary and basic skills covered. But also easy to do. I keep several gallon sized zip bags near my dryer, and after each load, add the lint to my stock-pile. Using used toilet paper rolls, you can add melted wax to lint (and dryer sheets too - they're potent...don't let them go to waste). Once it cools down just a little, stuff it into the tubes. Seal the entire thing with wax, and the result is a water-resistant starter that's easier to light, as you have lots of cardboard on the outside. Again, Awesome job.

Matteo L (author)ghostguard72008-05-29

Ive heard of that method before but never tried it. I think there is an instructable about it

Yerboogieman (author)2008-05-20

i didnt use the metal but you need to wrap the cardboard really tight to work well, and to make sure the fire doesnt go down through the holes and light the other side

Matteo L (author)Yerboogieman2008-05-29

I found that wrapping too tight made too much ash and the flames went down and needed constant brushing to remove the ash

sonic_dan (author)2008-05-29

i made one as a test, and as it worked so well i made another 8, but used drinks cans instead. and made them taller. i bought 2 massive church candles for £1 each and melted them down to use. they go for about 1.5 hours and are great for barbeques! (dont play football [soccer if ur american =P]with them... its fun, but ur legs and shoes get covered in wax, as you realise when you go back inside where you can actually see)

sonic_dan (author)sonic_dan2008-05-29

dont know where that crazy hyperlink came from...

Jack Daniels (author)2007-02-06

i like bacon

pooboy (author)Jack Daniels2007-07-20


Yerboogieman (author)pooboy2008-01-20

ever try really thick pepper bacon? its pretty good

admanrocks (author)Jack Daniels2007-02-06

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Bacon

joejoerowley (author)admanrocks2007-02-07

I second that motion. Canadian bacon is good!!

marduke (author)joejoerowley2007-04-29

Now i really want a hawaiian pizza

then we can watch some... hokey, eh?

marc92 (author)Jack Daniels2007-04-27

Why do you insist on wasting out time and yours composting utterly useless and completely stupid comments like "i like bacon" unless you are in the second grade in which case this is a perfectly excusable offense. perhaps you could elaborate on the reasoning behind your comment

Yerboogieman (author)2008-01-20

recently i built one of these with cardboard, wax, lighter fluid, and masking tape, worked well for 6 1/2 hours

piperjon (author)2007-11-20

Ever wonder what to do with all that dryer lint? Fire starters! Dip globs of lint in paraffin, or put in a can like above and pour on to saturate. Useful use of useless lint.

jakee117 (author)2007-11-14


funwithfire325 (author)2007-07-30

i like bacon too... cheese? nope dont like cheese like bacon not cheese... bacon not eggs are butter are jelly i like bacon not musterd are eggs are grits like bacon are do i like cheese? cheese good not bacon like bacon

the gizmoman (author)2007-07-12

try putting a wick when you start rolling the CB makes lighting easier

the gizmoman (author)2007-07-12

i have made these in boy scouts plenty of times!!

chuckr44 (author)2007-02-14

We used to cook with these when camping. It left terrible soot on the pans though. Another easy beacon is to fill a can with gasoline, diesel should work too. Then light on fire. Very smoky though, and don't cook with it. In WW2 they used this method for lights on landing strips they just made or captured. Did you know gasoline that is "only" 1 year old will not burn? I had some and it would not light with a match or lighter. So I had to toss it. I never knew gas could get so bad that it just would not burn.

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