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in: Manly Skills, Outdoors, Visual Guides

March 5, 2014 Last updated: October 15, 2018

How to Make a Torch: An Illustrated Guide

1. Find a green branch/stick. You’ll need a tree branch at least 2’ long and a few inches thick. The greener the better, as you don’t want your handle to burn along with your flame. 2. For fuel, you can use natural (tree pitch/resin, bark) or manmade (kerosene, gas, lighter fluid) materials. If using manmade fuels, cut a strip of cotton cloth about 1’ wide, and 2-3’ long. The longer you need your torch to burn, the bigger to cut the cloth. If using natural fuels, forgo the cloth, coat the end of the stick with the bark/pitch, and skip to Step 5. 3. Wrap the cloth around the end of the stick. Wrap it so that it creates a bulge in the cloth. When finished, simply tuck in the end of the cloth. 4. If using a manmade accelerant, soak the cloth for a few minutes before lighting. You want to make sure it’s fully soaked through so it burns for a long time. Pieces of dry cloth will simply char and burn away. 5. Light your torch! If using natural fuels, it may take 30-60 seconds to get lit. Be especially cautious in dry, wooded areas. Your new torch should last anywhere from 20-60 minutes.

Whether navigating the woods in a survival situation or hunting for treasure deep in the tunnels of an ancient temple, knowing how to make a torch with just a few common supplies is a valuable skill. Need fire and don’t have matches on hand? Read up on how to start a fire.

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Illustration by Ted Slampyak