How to Make a Torch in the Wild

Roman Herrick
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What Items are Necessary to Make a Torch?

The two items you need, in addition to the wilderness, will depend on whether you are on the open, sunny tundra – or beneath the thick canopy of a forest.

A tinder bundle out of dried tundra grass is ideal, but not necessary. The one, two or three hours you waited for the flare to signal for help will have passed. You’ll be left with darkness, and distance growing between yourself and the search party. Nonetheless, you must try to signal for help again. You’ll need a light source. In this case, you have your trusty, sharp, military-style KA-BAR knife and the pocket-sized, plastic lighter you had the foresight to grab.

In the heavy brush and woods, you’ll need two fire-making items: flint, and steel. Flint is one of the sharpest tools you can have in the woods. Use it to create sparks with the steel, and you’ll have a fire in no time.

The Simplest Torch

Torch making is something that anyone can do, regardless of what kind of survival situation you find yourself in, be it winter, or a zombie apocalypse. You just need a few materials and something hot to set the material on fire when you need it.

There are two ways to make a torch that will last. The first is to take two twigs and cross them over each other on a hard surface, then put your kindling in the middle and light it.

The second method is a bit more difficult, but the torch will work better and be longer lasting. You will need a forked branch and a wood rod. The branch should be long enough to wrap your string around it twice, ensuring it is secure.

Then poke a hole through the middle of the wood piece so the two ends of the branch come through. If you want to make sure the torch won’t fall off, then you can use your string to tie around the middle of the stick at the bottom.

Then, put your tinder in one end and your fuel in the other and you have your torch. The fuel can be anything from wood to fabric.

The Pine Pitch Torch

Do you love the simplicity of a torch in the wild? Would you like to bring it with you on camping trips and into the backcountry? Can you do this without bringing any fuel or with only minimal use of fuel?

Most people think that tallow torches are the best option. While they are great, they do require you to have a source of fat or vegetable oil to use. This is a problem, since you can’t create an ember and transfer it to an unlit torch in the wild.

You’ve also got the option of using lard. Lard is a great alternative because it’s very easy to carry in the backcountry and you can pull it from your bones at home. It’s also one of the most effective ways to build your ember and transfer it to a torch.

But if you want simplicity, how can you get the burn off of a tallow torch without using your own fat or vegetable oil?

Try pine pitch.

Pine pitch is a natural adhesive resin that can be collected in the wild and used to make a torch. It’s easy to find. You can even collect it near your own home, because it’s the same sticky glue that causes sap to build up on your car and on dirty outdoor equipment.

Alternate Materials to Make a Torch

Many people believe that the best way to make a torch is to use a flower pot. They believe that it is the most durable and most effective. However, we have found that although the flower pot’s aluminum layer is good, it is the paper or impenetrable plastic layer inside the pot that makes it extraordinary.

Here’s how you do it:

Obtain a flower pot.

Place 3 to 4 sheets of crinkled, pre-folded paper or impenetrable plastic in the flower pot.

Apply Vaseline to the hole of the flower pot.

Place rolling paper over the hole and seal by using burning twigs, rocks, pebbles, or any other weather-proofing material as a cover.

Slowly light your torch.