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Glass Bottle Tiki Torch

By on October 5, 2013

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Tiki brand torches are nice for backyard BBQs, but if you are roughing it in the woods, at a campground or a hiking trail then you most likely won’t need an expensive name brand oil torch. I like LEDs for inside of my tent, but for the outside I like to use citronella oil instead of fluorescent lanterns. Fluorescent lamps remind me of the office life I’m vacationing from. Also, citronella smells like the outdoors and adds to the overall feel of camping. The lamp I use combines recycling and camping. I use glass beer bottles and cotton wicks from an old mop head to make a reusable oil lamp.

Step 1: You Will Need:

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Beer bottles (not the twist-off type)

The caps (removed carefully without damage)

Cotton string (thicker the better)

Philips screwdriver

Hammer

Oil (citronella or used cooking oil will work)

Bottle capper (optional)

Step 2:

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The twist off beer caps don’t seem to reattach well, but the pop-off type fit on nicely if you remove the cap with care. I use a bottle capper to reseal the bottle because I have one, but it is not necessary. The cap will snap back on without the capper if the cap is not bent. After collecting the beer bottles and caps, we will punch a hole into the cap with the screwdriver. I know this seems crude, but it works better then the drill press because punching it leaves a collar that holds the wick better then a clean hole. Take the cap, paint side down onto a piece of scrap wood, and punch the screwdriver into the middle of the cap by tapping it with a hammer.

Step 3:

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The cotton I use is from an old mop head. It works just fine as a wick and saves it from a land fill. It will need to be soaked in clean water to remove any cleaning chemicals left on the mop. It can be dried outside or in a clothes dryer. One mop head will give you hundreds of wicks. 100% cotton is required for wicks, a cotton blend cannot be used. If you don’t have a mop head ready for the trash, you can use cotton rope found at a craft store. 

Step 4:

step4

Feed the cotton string through the hole to test the fit. It should have some resistance when adjusting the wick, but not so much that it shreds apart while pulling on it. Having a mile of wick is not necessary; as long as there is plenty of oil and the wick is thick, the cotton will not burn quickly. If your wick is thin, try braiding three pieces together to add to its burn time. Fanning out the wick and having a long wick will give you a brighter light but it will run down your oil and wick quickly. I use two bottle lengths of wick because I like to have enough to cut if the fanning of the wick gets out of control. When filling it up with oil, try not to fill it to the top, because the neck can get hot. Never refill when it’s hot, that’s why we make a lot of these before the trip so they can be set aside and a new one can be brought out. A twelve packs worth can be made in less than 20 minutes so there is no need to worry about refilling them and if you wanted to you could just toss them in trash when they are empty. These can be made on the spot, with the supplies on hand. An old t-shirt can be cut into strips and braided to make a wick. This is a useful thing to know for emergencies.

Step 5:

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by tjesse

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About The Survivalist

Total bacon buff. Explorer. Survivalist Expert. Zombie Fanatic/Hunter. Internet Entrepreneur

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