Introduction: Old Fashion Torch

Picture of Old Fashion Torch

 I learned this trick from some friends and perfected it myself. Please not that they are relatively unstable and should not be used for anything other than emergency or novelty purposes. I.E. I do not suggest using these to be part of some sort of dungeon themed room since they would probably light your house on fire. 

**Be careful, I do not want some law suit because you are the kind of kid that burns yourself with matches and then you try to make a torch for the fun of it. Whatever you do is your responsibility and in no way is it my problem what happens if you use or misuse this technique**

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

You will need:
100% Cotton Rope
A stick 
something to melt the wax in
something to light the torch with 
a knife

Note you MUST use 100% cotton rope otherwise you will have dripping molten plastic instead of a nice clean-burning torch. Paraffin or any other comparable wax will do. Also you should use a cheep butter knife so you don't kill your heat temper.

Step 2: Preparing the Torches

Picture of Preparing the Torches

There are two main ways to tie the rope to the torch shaft. probably the safest way is to cut and tie individual pieces. this way if it burns through at one place you won't have catastrophic failure . The other option is to tie it the same way you would whip the end of a string. Since that method is more complicated i went over it here.

Step 3: Meting the Wax

Picture of Meting the Wax

Cut the wax and drop it in your cans. This is easier if you heat the knife and then cut it. Double boil the wax so you don't destroy your Mom's pots! You don't actually need two tin cans i just did that so i could show my brother. 
Melting the wax is relatively safe since it is relatively inert. Once it is fully melted roll the end around in the can until it won't absorb any more. Then place it somewhere to try

Step 4: Finished

Picture of Finished

Lighting these is a little difficult i have a cooking torch that i usually use. once it is lit they will drip burning wax for the first minute or two BE CAREFUL. 
The best way to put these out is to dunk them in water. Ignore the audio on this one i was talking with my dad at the time. Leave comments if you have any questions so you can not burn your eyebrows off.


DeadS2 (author)2015-11-09

Great job!... just wondering if there is anything you could use instead of bee's wax?

HuwelG (author)DeadS22015-12-17

You can use all kinds of stuff, lard or other animal fats were used traditionally aswell as pitch. Paraffin and other types of lamp oil work pretty well and i've heard you can use petrol or even spirits and vodka but i havent tried those myself. Also cotton jersey, old rags or cotton socks tied to a stick work just aswell as rope, you can use stuff you have lying around just make sure its not plastic based or you'll regret it :)

General Hawkins (author)HuwelG2017-08-10

could you actually go and collect pitch from a damaged tree and melt it like wax to complete the process?

MarkM195 (author)2015-12-07

would it work if instead of cotton rope, you used a cotton sock?

PrepOutsidetheBox (author)2014-12-03

Just a thought, if your worried about the cord burning through just staple it in several places around the stick. Be safe

AJMansfield (author)2013-02-17

Hemp, sisal, silk, fiberglass, Kevlar, or similar rope would work just as well as cotton. Just no plastic rope. If you can fuse the cut end of a rope, it can't be used for this.

bustedit (author)2010-04-22

I love that is flagged "popular"! Is there a large demand for flaming torches these days? I guess i am hanging out with the wrong people, becasue I've always wanted to walk around a cave/dungeon/Mayan temple w a torch just like Indiana Jones.
Very cool.

Terranan (author)bustedit2012-05-21

tiki parties, ftw!

lolpota (author)bustedit2012-03-19


jeff-o (author)bustedit2010-04-22

I think it's due to all the people watching Survivor and Lost.

lolpota (author)2012-03-19


average joe 1999 (author)2011-05-30

"I learned this trick from some friends and perfected it myself. Please not that they are relatively unstable and should not be used for anything other than emergency or novelty purposes. I.E. I do not suggest using these to be part of some sort of dungeon themed room since they would probably light your house on fire."

the friends are unstable and may light your house on fire...:)

dvacura (author)2011-05-14

I wrapped what i though was cotton string around a stick after i poured wax on it. Should it be burning bright? mine is pathetic.

jamesjamesjames (author)dvacura2011-05-30

pouring wax on it will not be as effective as soaking it in melted wax, the wax will cool before it gets absorbed

Super_Geek (author)2011-05-29

Ideally you should soak the cord in the warm melted wax so that it has maximum absorption. Then wrap multiple layers over the top of each other, bound very tightly. Using a slightly smaller cord you can get 3 or 4 layers and it will burn fairly bright for a torch.

Birdy Jane (author)2011-03-28

randomhand: bbq party idea is first thing I thought of too.
Anyone know a reason why not add citronella oil to the wax?

I would think that you would just have to make sure that it mixes evenly with the wax. I have never heard of citronella reacting with wax in a bad way and they sell those candles all the time.

NathanaelScheffler (author)2011-05-29

Just a hint, in the begging of Step 3 you spelt melting wrong. Just saying. Other than that your instructable is great! I have always wanted to have one of these! Thanks for posting instructions, it looks like it will work better than using lighter fluid.

jack pickle (author)2010-12-28

Its melting not meting

fellbaum (author)2010-11-16

i use diesel its more stable than gasoline

bobwantzanapple (author)2010-05-25

You realize that when cotton is burned it releases toxic fumes, don't you? I suggest natural twine such as hemp (NOT pot...he- he) because it is safer and better for your lungs to burn.

snook123 (author)bobwantzanapple2010-05-28

cotton is natural and does not release fumes

bobwantzanapple (author)snook1232010-05-30

everything releases fumes when burned, it's just that some fumes are more dangerous than others, cotton fumes are slightly more dangerous than that of other natural twine such as hemp, hemp also burns better in some cases

djzadjza (author)bobwantzanapple2010-10-20

i think you need to recheck most of the facts you posted. execpt oviously the poison ivy. you dont want to burn that

no, cotton is natural, your thinking of nylon

Poison Ivy is natural too, but you don't burn that do you? It's kind of like burning charcoal, how it releases Carbon Monoxide as a natural part of combustion, but if you're moving around a lot, and you're outside, you should be fine, also, I respect your opinion.

djzadjza (author)2010-10-20

i did the same thing with a cotton cloth wrap and some parafin wax. and after you get it burning it burns for 20 minutes or more. thanks for the great idea

kutz (author)2010-09-02

I find that paint thinner works pretty well with cotton cord wrapped like in this 'able, but u have to keep reapplying it after it goes out so pitch is best its a good idea to not drip it all over your hand and arm though :P

EOmfD_0120S (author)2010-07-18

All Ideas are correct as I have performed this many ways. The most complicated way is to lace burlap with very thin copper wire for the wrap, use a gelatin or waxed base fuel, then once wrap and fuel/oil mixture are applied, coat the wrap with a thick non flamable wax to help control and extend the burn time. Now that is the most complicated and time consuming so as "asibitemytounge" originally stated, the illustrated guide provided is for emergencies and should be used in only those situations where supplies are limited. By the way, the wax is used for 2 reasons. First, most wax contains petrolium jelly which mixed with cotten will ignite and burn slow like a candle and 2nd is using a non petrolium wax to control the burn time. Good Instruction "AS I"!

JamesTB13 (author)2010-06-28

OORRR, soak your string in gasoline, then the gasoline burns before the string. Also, it's very unclear as to what purpose the wax serves.

Jakace (author)2010-06-02

 what do with wax?

Culturedropout (author)2010-04-22

I learned this trick from some friends and perfected it myself. Please note that they are relatively unstable.  Tee Hee! ;-)

Kryptonite (author)2010-04-20

Awesome! I would like to make this, seems so simple and effective! Can we get a picture of it lit? Sorry, but my Quicktime player's a bit annoying. D:

And a note to every body else, instead of bumping BSG's comment back up to the top, just comment on the Instructable or other threads and push it down to the bottom!

Sorry for the BSG bump. Couldn't help myself.

Thanks for the comment above to push it out of the way. :D

RavingMadStudios (author)2010-04-21

Very nice work. I've made torches for theatrical productions many times, and this method would come in handy for that kind of thing. Simple, inexpensive and handy. Well done.

I do disagree a bit about using several short pieces instead of one long one being safer. It seems to me that it would be more likely to drop bits of flaming cord that way, and that you'd have more time to react when one long one burned through, as the remaining cord would still be wrapped around the stick. When I've done torches in the past, I've added a few 1 inch pneumatic staples to hold the rope to the wood, just to be sure. Maybe that would work for you, too.

randomhand (author)2010-04-21

How long do they burn for?

would be awsome for a bbq party

sheepguy42 (author)2010-04-20

 I wonder if leaving the end in the can while the wax melts might result in more thorough absorption of the wax, and perhaps longer burn times?

mbudde (author)2010-04-20

This is cool. Why is it hard to light though? Is it just hard to get the rope lit once its full of wax?

knexfan9182 (author)2010-04-20

The size on that file seems a little bit off.

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