In times of survival, we have to use whatever we can to get by. And sometimes, that means improvisation. As important as keeping a flashlight on you is, you might find yourself without one. Here’s how to make a torch, both with natural and man-made materials.
- Find Your Stick: You’ve probably seen enough torches in movies and video games. Search the area for a piece of wood approximately the same size as those (two feet long, a few inches thick). In an urban setting, this could be a chair or table leg. In the wilderness, it’s as simple as a branch. Metal is good too. The important part is that it doesn’t burn much, so a fresh branch is better than a dry one.
- Cover the End in Fuel: You need something to burn. If man-made, you can wrap cotton or other fabric around the end and soak it in gasoline, kerosene, lighter fluid, and so on. In the wild, you can find tree pitch, bark, and other burnable material. Soak the end in the fuel if you have it, just make sure you have a fair-sized bulge at the end of the stick. If you don’t want the fire to spread downward, you can coat the hilt of the stick in mud or water to discourage fire progressing downward.
- Light the Torch: If the end is soaked in fuel, it’ll be a fairly easy process to light the end. If using natural materials like tree resin, it’ll take longer.
Torches are temporary and will both need replacing and refueling. This is especially true if using branches and bark for a torch. Be prepared for a torch to go out if you have it lit for too long.
Torches are dangerous. You’re literally carrying fire on a stick. And the absolute last thing you need is a fire that you’ve lost control of. Please be careful when using an improvised torch.
All of this can be avoided by getting in a constant carry habit of a pocket flashlight. Knowledge is helpful, but preparation is better.