Introduction: Quick and Easy Alcohol Flame - Tampon Powered!

About: Find my creations at: You can find my wearable creations at: Techno-twit, wild woman, exceedingly odd...yup, that's me!

I've been playing with P.E.T. plastic lately and after spending a couple weeks worth of lunch-hours and breaks cutting up all kinds of water bottles, detergent bottles, disposable plates and anything thing else that might be some melty fun, I figured I needed to get busy doing the melting part!

Using any kind of flammable material around an open flame can be deadly. Do not leave a flame unattended. Work in a ventilated area. This is fire! I take no responsibility for anyone's ignorance, stupidity or carelessness.

My first attempt was using a small camp-stove-sized gas canister and a torch head I had hanging around. Talk about overkill...
I decided all I really needed was a candle flame, one that wouldn't shrink as I used it or leave soot all over everything. I also wanted to be able to use it in my car portable art studio so it had to be small and fairly safe. Couldn't go back in to my desk job with third-degree burns.

Step 1:

The only small glass containers I had were a salt-n-pepper shaker set with screw-on caps. I drilled out a hole in one cap, lined the cap with aluminum foil to seal the rest of the holes, stuffed a tampon into the hole I had drilled (it was the only wick-type thing I had available), filled the jar with rubbing alcohol and lit it. It didn't work very well. Good thing I had two of them.
The second time around I simply lined the cap with foil to seal all but the center one, poked a hole through the foil with a toothpick, and shoved just the tampon STRING through.

Step 2:

I left the rest of the tampon stuffed in the jar so it would stabilize any sloshing of alcohol when I was driving my portable craft room (OMG - open alcohol! *gasp*) I tied a double knot in the end of the string so it wouldn't slip back through. I filled the jar with alcohol, screwed the lid on and lit it. Perfect.

Step 3:

The flame is so small as to almost be invisible but does a perfect job of melting plastic bits without fear of a molten blog dropping in my lap. If a larger flame is wanted, simply lift the knot a teensy bit. I found 99% alcohol burns too hot causing the knot in the wick to burn faster. The local dollar store had some 50% alcohol which wouldn't stay lit but I found mixing the two yielded the best results. I think the bit of water in the mix keeps the wick from burning too quickly.

Also, the photos show me replacing the old tampon because the 'wick' had gotten too short - figured it was the perfect excuse for an 'ible - but the new tampon did not have a braided string like the first one. I'm noticing the new one is burning down faster.

Happy melting!
I'll post a separate 'ible on how to create cool recycled awesomeness like the bracelet shown below.
For a peek at some of the odd art and curious crafts I currently have available go to