You can make torches out of almost anything that burns, provided that you have the ability to attach the material to a long handle. The most common option is to wrap some fabric around the end of a stick and soak it in some fuel. However, there are some things that you can apply to this method to maximize the burn life of the torch while also minimizing the resources that are needed. Below are three tricks that can be used in a variety of circumstances, and they are very easy to pull off.
Birch bark is a fantastic material to use in torches because it is easy to cut and wrap, and the oils within the skin are an excellent source of fuel. All you need is a few strips of bark that are two to three feet long along with some wire or cordage to hold it in place. If you can’t find fresh and moist bark, you can soften some drier strips in water before wrapping it around the end of your handle. However, you will also need to let the material dry before using the torch.
Simply take the strip of bark and wrap it around the top few inches of the handle as you would put tape on the handle of a baseball bat. You can apply as many layers of material as you wish as long as it is tightly wrapped. Secure the material by tying it off with some wire or cordage. You can also use another strip of bark as well. A few strips should produce a bulge that is thick enough to burn for about 15-30 minutes. However, the burn life will depend on the quality of the bark as well as how well it is wrapped.
Pine resin is a fantastic fuel source that will produce a longer lasting burn than birch bark, but this method requires a little bit of preparation beforehand. The first step is to gather the gooey and sticky sap from pine trees, cook it until it liquefies and then add some sawdust, powdered charcoal, mulch or small pieces of dried grass. This material will fortify the resin, giving it the ability to be molded while also helping to extend the amount of burn time.
You want to add enough material to the liquid until it is dry to the touch, but moist enough to be molded. If you add too much material, it will not hold its shape. If you don’t add enough, the resin will be sticky, runny and fail to retain its shape. This may take some trial and error to get a feel for the right proportions, but you can always add more resin or more material to strike the right balance. Once the mixture has been prepared, simply take a handful and apply it to the end of the handle with enough pressure to hold it in place. Aim for having at least an inch of material on the handle to ensure that you have enough fuel to keep the torch burning.
You can also wrap strips of fabric around the end of the handle and douse it in a flammable liquid to create a fast and easy torch. However, its burn time will not be as long as the pine resin option. The type of fuel you are using will play a big role with how long the torch will burn. Try to use oily fuels as opposed to alcohol because they burn longer and slower. Petroleum jelly, shortening or candle wax will provide the longest lasting fuel.
These simple tricks can be used in wet or dry conditions and don’t require any special material. Try them out for yourself and discover how different variations will produce different results. You will quickly discover that it doesn’t take a lot to create an excellent source of light that can be put together in a matter of minutes.