Introduction: Cardboard Kerosene Torch

About: Fantasy is a little too imaginative to live by, but Reality is far too much set in stone to be taken seriously. I know the future is uncertain, but with a little imagination, a little reality, and a spoonful o…

Hey! This is my first instructable! Please vote for it in the Cardboard Speed Challenge if you like it!

Edit: A second, much improved version of my torch is posted at Kerosene Torch 2.0!

So, what is this torch all about? It takes five materials; a stick, some chucks of wood or stone, cardboard, kerosene and a can. It burns in a calm area for about thirteen minutes and burns larger and brighter, and probably longer, in a breezy place. (This tells me that more air holes would improve it, as they would provide the flame with a steadier flow of kerosene fumes.) A minute or so after it burns out, some rigorous blowing can relight a small flame, as the kerosene is still slowly evaporating from the cardboard.

I built this in less than half an hour, though fifteen minutes would easily be enough time if I were not documenting it. As you can see, I spilled a little of the kerosene

Attention: This project contains razors, sharp metal objects, flammable fuels, and cardboard! I will not tell you to be careful around these each time we encounter them, because I know that you are well capable of handling these without my overcautious advice. Still I will state it once: Sharp things cut. Flammable things burn. Cuts and burns are painful. Now that I am done jabbering pick up your tools and follow along.


1 Stick (Or branch or pole or anything to use as a handle), about two feet long and 1 1/2 inches wide at one end.

1 Metal Can. I used a standard 16oz tomato can. (There is nothing significant about it having once held tomatoes. Any other vegetable can would work. Also any non-vegetable can would suffice.)

A few small chunks of wood, stones, or almost anything else.



Optional: A wad or two of jean material soaked in kerosene to slowly release more fumes. This would hypothetically make it burn longer, 'hypothetically' being the the most important word in the sentence. As the jean material does not itself burn, a bandanna, or even a sock, work function quite the same, in case you do not care to tear a hole in your jeans, or did not bring along an extra pair on your hike to tear from. Hiking without a sock may be preferable to hiking with a reasonable sized hole in your pants.


You can definitely make it without these, but they make it easier.

A hand saw, if you want to cut your handle from a tree.

A pair of metal shears, to punch the hole in the bottom of the can. A sharp rock would work if needed.

A drill and 1/2 in bit, to drill air holes in the can. Again, a sharp, pointy rock would suffice in necessity.

A razor blade, or scissor, or knife. Anything to cut the cardboard (For those who are too dainty to tear it.) ;)

Step 1: The Handle

Look around and find a stick, or branch to use as a handle. It shout be about an inch smaller in diameter than your can. I found a sturdy stick one about one and a half inches across.

If you happen to have time, you may want can cut the end of the stick flat, but this is not crucial. It helps the cardboard sit flat on the end of the stick later.

Step 2: The Can

Find a can. Rip off the label if you don't want everyone to know the types of vegetables you eat. Now would probably be a fine time to drill, or puncture, your air holes. I drilled them after I fastened the can to the handle, but now would be a better time. I drilled four 1/2 inch holes around the lower end, but next time I would drill more, probably eight or so.

Using your metal shears, or a sharp rock, cut a cross in the bottom of the can, (or puncture a large hole if using a rock). Ram the handle into it. It is best if it fits tightly. Push your handle about halfway through the can. My stick happened to have a nice stump coming off just below that to hold it in place. If the stick did not have a knot, I might put in a nail to hold it, and maybe not.

Step 3: The Wood Chunks or Stones

You may have noticed that your can is a bit wobbly on the stick. That is what these wood chunks are for. Instead of wood, stones, sticks or anything else could have been used. Wedge these small pieces in the can around your handle to keep it tight. There should still be plenty of gaps for air to flow through.

Hypothetically, a fabric soaked in kerosene and inserted now, before we add the cardboard, would release more fumes, or for a longer time. I stuffed mine around the handle, making sure to leave holes for air, but as my attempt with the fabric actually lasted shorter than without the fabric, I may have not left enough air space. Then again, I didn't quite drench the cardboard as much as I did the first time (When I spilled the kerosene, generally a very dangerous idea.)

Step 4: The Cardboard

Now take a section of cardboard and cut strips about two inches wide. I used about five to six feet of cardboard in four sections. Roll it up tightly and push into the can. It should be tight enough that it doesn't fall out. If it fell out while it was flaming, it might extinguish itself, and that would be unacceptable. ;)

Step 5: The Kerosene (and a Chicken).

Here comes the fun part. Sprinkle the kerosene onto your cardboard. The more kerosene is absorbed the better. Do not pour to fast, as I did, or it will run out the bottom and soak into the handle, and burn there. Unless of course, that is precisely what you want.

By the way, I would not suggest feeding kerosene to a chicken. They will gladly eat anything, especially Styrofoam, and I don't doubt that they would drink kerosene, if you set a bowl of it in front of them.

Step 6: Light It!

Okay. This is actually the fun part. Take a lighter and light your torch. This one lasted thirteen minutes, and burned gloriously at the start. Hold it up and watch it burn, unless you actually have some useful purpose for it. I made it just to see if I could. Other than that, no purpose. Of course, I could win the Cardboard Speed Challenge! That would be nice also! And then I could say that I have a real purpose for it. ;)

Edit: A second, much improved version of my torch is posted at Kerosene Torch 2.0!

Please vote for it you like it, and then go burn something down,


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