Thursday, April 27, 2017

DIY make your own re-purposed tiki torch/portable heater and camp stove out of household or recycled items

     We like to do lots of little things just for the fun of it, it keeps life exciting, but I was surprised how useful for emergency preparedness these little torches/portable camp stoves can be as well as entertaining!  Since I usually ramble and wax nostalgic at the beginning of these posts, I will do so again here-sorry!  For those in a hurry, skip down a couple paragraphs.
     My grandpa used to solve a problem he had with willow-over-growth in his waterways, during the middle of winter!   When his kids wanted to ice skate, he'd suggest a night skating party and with the help of some diesel fuel, light up some of those water choking willows to provide a bonfire for light, warmth, marshmallows and heating hot cocoa.  It made a social event out of a necessary maintenance chore.  Pure genius!  I sure miss that guy.  I attempted this a few winters back with my kids and some friends and it was great, but this year, I didn't want to torch the willows and a friend of ours had graciously gifted us with her tiki torch set after a party she'd thrown, so we thought we'd give them a try.  They were fun-but not nearly enough torches to provide enough light and warmth for our hockey game and other ice skating festivities.  That got me thinking and so here we are!
     I didn't love the fact that we needed special wicks and special tiki fuel and the special canisters to make it all work as I'm cheap and didn't want to special order tiki torches in the middle of winter.  I experimented with different containers and homemade wicks and all kinds of fuel sources and have compiled my cheapest and most favorites here for you.  You're welcome!  I hope you have a blast with these because we sure did!
     1.  "The bacon fat tiki torch!"  Simply collect bacon fat in a soup can (here you can see we used a 99 cent cookie tin and had a good time emptying it too), then roll up a piece of scrap cardboard that is just a tiny bit longer than the soup can-tape it, tie it, or rubber band it in several places, and cover it with your bacon fat (we did this by dipping one end and then the other in the fat that was inside the can).   Then shove your cardboard into the bacon fat and light it up!  Burns great and smells nice too-if you like bacon:).  Super cheap and super easy!  Great flame for lighting and warmth!  To extinguish it, just blow it out or in this case, put the lid on.
     2. Next, the "rubbing alcohol tiki torch/portable camp stove." This one is fantastic for lighting, heating or being used as a portable camping stove!  It's amazingly simple-just take the cardboard center out of a toilet paper roll, shove it in a soup can and douse it in rubbing alcohol.

For a one-time-use tiki torch that's all you need.  If you want to use it over and over then you will need an airtight lid to keep the alcohol from evaporating and to make it "packable" without spilling into your backpack.  My kids and I bought some cookies from the dollar store that came in a nice tin with a tight-fitting lid.  We enjoyed the cookies, then crammed the tin with a half a roll of toilet paper (minus the cardboard roll in the center), saturated it with rubbing alcohol (it takes surprisingly little), and lit it up!  The small size and airtight top makes it perfect as a camping stove that fits into your backpack.  We have made several and love these little guys.  It gets very hot so it can be easily used for heating and cooking!  It has a nice flame to give off light, although the flame can be more blue-ish and not quite as bright as the bacon fat tiki torch.  It is easy to extinguish by simply blowing out or putting the lid on.
     3. I tried making some homemade wicks out of gauze and several other things and wasn't really impressed by any of them... If I find something that works great, I will add it to this post.

But... if you have some extra tiki torch fuel and a wick or two hanging around but no canisters, here's an easy solution.  1st, crack open your favorite soda, drink it, rinse it out, then fill it with an ounce or two of your tiki fuel and stick the wick in.  Light it up!  It worked great for us!

Hope this post was fun and helpful!  (I may add how to make a quick and easy stand for your torches like we did if there is enough interest.) Please don't do anything without parent supervision... or while indoors... and if you are a pyro with no sense, please don't do any of these at all!  We want you safe to play another day.