DIYdiy projects

diy project: erik’s recycled wine bottle torch

by Grace Bonney

this clever outdoor diy idea comes from erik anderson of gerardot & co.- a creative branding and design agency in indianapolis. erik was kind enough to share a fantastic project that turns an everyday bottle into a modern backyard tiki torch. i love the way these torches look and am dying to find a backyard to use these in- too bad the closest thing we have is a 2×2 foot fire escape. but for those of you with yards, i hope you’ll enjoy this project from erik. click here for more info on the project and click here to check out erik’s work at gerardot & co. thanks, erik!

CLICK HERE for the full project instructions after the jump!


[****Safety Note: This is for outdoor use only. Tiki brand recommends that the wick never be set higher than 1-inch, and I recommend that you exercise the same discretion and common sense that you would with any small open flame.*****]

Recycled Wind Bottle Torch

In any of my design work, whether for clients or for myself, I’m most proud when I can find a solution that’s highly creative and effective while keeping resources to a minimum. This is totally inexpensive (around $5-bucks). Plus it’s a great way to recycle a wine bottle.

It’s been a record year for mosquitoes here in Indianapolis, Indiana and I’d been wanting to add some Tiki-esque torches to the patio to combat the little buggers, as well as provide some ambiance in the evenings. After searching the world over to find a torch that was affordable and atypical, I came to the conclusion that unless I wanted wicker or bamboo, I would need to become a bit more resourceful. A glance into my recycling bin and an aimless stroll through the local hardware store provided me with this clear solution.


1. Empty Wine Bottle (You can use any bottle you like as long as it’s glass and the neck is 1” in diameter. Be clever!)
2. Teflon Tape 1/2”
3. Copper Top Plate Connector (threaded for 3/8”-16 thread rod)
4. 1” Split Ring Hanger (threaded for 3/8”-16 thread rod)
5. 1/2” x 3/8” Copper Coupling
6. 1/2” Copper Cap
7. Two Hex Nuts (threaded for 3/8”-16 thread rod)
8. Two #10 x 1” Zinc Plated Wood Screws (if your mounting it to wood)
9. 3/8”-16 Zinc Plated Threaded Rod (I bought a 3’ rod and cut it down to 8, 4-1/2” rods with a hacksaw.)
10. Tiki Replacement Wick
11. Torch Fuel (For safety reasons, only use fuel made specifically for outdoor torches. i.e. Tiki brand)

Helpful Tools: Channellocks, adjustable wrench, hacksaw, power screwdriver, and a funnel

****Safety Note: This is for outdoor use only. Tiki brand recommends that the wick never be set higher than 1-inch, and I recommend that you exercise the same discretion and common sense that you would with any small open flame.*****

Building Instructions


The Hanger

1. Decide where you want to mount your Recycled Bottle Torch. Position the Top Plate Connector on your mounting surface and mark the holes for where the screws will go. It’s easier to keep it level if you pre-drill your screws first.
2. Once you have your Top Plate Connector mounted you can screw in the 3/8”-16 Rod until it stops. Channellocks are helpful for this part.
3. Thread the two Hex Nuts on to the Rod and tighten one all the way down at the point where the Rod meets the Top Connector Plate. Leave the other Hex Nut at the front end so it can be used to secure the Split Ring Hanger.
4. Thread on the Split Ring Hanger just enough so that the Rod is flush with the inside of the ring. Turn the 2nd Hex Nut counter-clockwise to snug it up against the Split Ring Hanger.

If you’d prefer your hardware to keep its shiny, unweathered look you can always give it several coats of clear polyurethane before you mount it. Personally, I think a weathered patina will add a nice element of character.


The Bottle

1. Carefully and tightly wrap the 1/2” end of the Coupling with your Teflon Tape. You’ll want to keep each wrap nice and clean so that it creates a smooth, even surface. Continue building up the tape until it fits very snugly into the opening of your bottle. You obviously don’t want it to fall in.
2. Insert the Wick into the Coupling until it sticks out about 1/4”. The Tiki brand replacement wicks are about 3/8” in diameter so they fit really well. Once they absorb the torch oil they’re even tighter.
3. Unscrew the Split Ring Hanger on one side and position the bottle neck into the ring.
4. Flip the front half of the ring back into place and tighten down the Hanger evenly on both sides. You may need to loosen the other side to make sure both sides are an even tightness. (Don’t over tighten the Hanger. You don’t want to break the glass.)
5. Use a funnel to fill the bottle with your favorite torch oil. (I use Tiki’s BiteFighter because it’s clear and seems to do a good job of keeping the mosquitoes away.)
6. Insert the Coupling & Wick into the top of the bottle and twist it snugly into place. Give the Wick a few minutes to absorb the oil before you try to light it.
7. I typically just blow my torches out. Use the Copper Cap to keep the Wick dry when you’re not using your torch.


Good Luck!


Suggested For You


  • I made a few but the fiberglass wick I bought is an inch thick and it won’t absorb the oil all the way to the top of the wick. I let them sit out for days and nothing. My bottles are tall ones and need over 12 inches of wick.

  • The maximum draw a wick will pull fuel from is about 8″. It will burn for hours. Shorten your length and try it.

  • I made a few changes, used bear bottles so they are not so big and used electrical tape instead of the Teflon tape. Love the but I have problems with the wick sliding down into the bottle. I managed to get it out and frayed the ends a bit which helped but once I put the cap on it pushed it back in. Gonna try and put some marbles/stones on the bottle to keep the wick up. Any other suggestions are appreciated.

    • Try taking a nail and put dents in the side of the wick tube. You may want to take a wooden dowel rod small enough in diameter to fit inside the tube as a backing to keep the tube from bending.

  • I used a 1/2″ x 1/4″ copper coupling, 3/8″ cap, and electrical tape. The tape allowed the coupling to fit snugly in the bottle and the 1/4” held the wick in place. I also filled the bottle a little less than half full with pea gravel because the wick only goes about half way down in the bottle – would have been a waste of fuel otherwise. The copper top plates were the most difficult items to find, but I found some galvanized ones at Lowes that work great.

  • Hey there! I see plenty of tips and tutorials on how to make a single wick torch, but I want one of those gladiator-style Fire BOWLS. has anyone found a way to make one of those?

  • Can you add water prior to adding the tiki fuel? The fuel and water separate, making the fuel rise and thus allowing for the use with shorter wicks.

    • HI
      Did you try to add the water 1st and then the fuel.
      I am in same boat and been trying to find if anyone has done that.


      • I used wine bottle torches just like these for my sons outside wedding and I used half water and fuel, it kept the cost down in fuel and it worked as long as the wick is in the fuel NOT the water so make sure u check the length of the wick before u stick in the bottle. they worked great I also used porcelain stoppers with wicks.

  • I’m having an issue with a very low flame. They burn great for the first minute then the flame becomes so low most of them just go out. Any suggestions?

    • Try pulling the wick out a bit more so you have more exposed wick/larger flame. If the wick is too short, it can’t pull the fuel up the wick as fast as the flame consumes it.

    • Jennifer, I am having the same problem and pulling the wick out further only helped a bit. I may try the water at the bottom of the bottle and use a shorter wick. I made a torch from a small Patron bottle and it works great. I think the wick length is the key.

  • Love it! Hardest part of the project was cutting the threaded bar and cleaning the labels off wine bottles. Also the wicks keep falling through the top, but rocks in bottle helped and frYing wick. Don’t know how to submit a photo of mine here but they look great!

    • Fill your sink with hot water and a little blue dawn, dump bottles in and add in baking soda and then a tiny bit of vinegar. Labels peels right off and any remaining residue can be sponged off quickly!

  • Made these with a couple of modifications.

    Used a 3/8 male adapter (one end threaded one end smooth, with a hex section inbetween which keeps it from slipping into the bottle).

    Instead of the ceiling flange (unable to find) I just bought 1/2″ split hangers and used the threaded part and drilled out the holes with drill in reverse)

    And used a little brass chain to keep the cap from getting lost. Gravel in the bottle also keeps the wick where it should be.

    Runs a little over $10/lamp sourcing stuff from Lowes or Home Depot.

        • Try a hobby store, not sure what store chains you have in your area, we have Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. Look in the area where the beads are for jewelry projects. It may not be copper but you can find cheap chain in various sizes and even the split rings to use to attach it.

  • I found much longer wicks online that solved the depth issue. My first fix was clear marbles. For the wick sliding down, I used a metal caster wheel insert and it works fine. The insert is the part that goes into the wood to insert the wheel. They have a lip that fits over the cooper tube and does not slide down.

  • I used a clear bottle and noticed that the wick looks burned below the Copper Coupling after I’ve burned it a couple of times. Is this normal or extremely dangerous? Not looking to burn the place down

  • Instead of filling the bottle completely full of fuel, fill the bottle about 1/2 half full of decorative rocks or gravel from a craft store. It looks nice and you only need about half the amount of fuel. You will need to top off the fuel after an afternoon of burning, but the rocks will allow you to fill up many bottles with little fuel.

  • My wick burns out after a few minutes. It seems that everyone else’s lasts for hrs. Any ideas please?

  • Just assembled 4 today. Everything was perfect.

    Definitely filled the bottles halfway with pebbles to minimize fuel waste that the wick wouldn’t otherwise get.

    My Home Depot didn’t carrya zinc plated rod, so I will have to paint mine to prevent rust.

    My Charm City backyard just got more charming. Thank You!

  • To keep wick from sliding down in the bottle, cut a small piece of about 1/2 inch of 3/8 inch diameter copper pipe and insert this piece into the 3/8 reducer. Then insert the wick inside this pipe, wick is held steady in place.
    /Users/Jodi/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/Thumbnails/2016/07/09/20160709-160203/wjk7Wh4PTE6Dc4C19Ti02A/thumb_Image-1_1024.jpg

  • I created this project and can’t seem to get a good flame going. Could it be the quality of the fuel? It was purchased last summer – could it be old?

  • Put fish gravel in the bottle until the wick touches the gravel. Only leave the wick a 1/4 inch from the coupling and don’t burn the bottle dry and you will never need to raise the wick.

  • For those that it wont burn you need more wick. You can always paint galvanized or steel copper or any color you wish. Steel wicks, regular wicks and real wick holders for bottles off Ebay. You can use kerosene lamp fuel as well, which comes in large jugs and many colors. Hope that helps. Jp

  • Main problem for me is that the 1/2″-3/8 copper reducer is too large to fit into the neck of a bottle. I’ve tried it on beer bottles, Coke bottles, and even a small champagne bottle. 1/2″ is too wide, and 3/8″ will require a LOT of teflon tape to make it stick. (Wine bottles may be too tall to use.)

    I will look for some kind of cylindrical sanding attachment that I can use to rout out the inside of the bottle necks to slightly more than 1/2″.

  • Just a note of interest: if you have black smoke coming from the top of the flame, you probably have too much wick exposed at the top of the bottle. I also wouldn’t use kerosene because it stinks!

  • This is an amazing outdoor idea! Once you are done with the torches, you can simply remove and replace with a planter box or anything at all! Brilliant! Thank you for this!

  • I made 8 of them today for around my deck. Installed and tried them. Awesome look. My wife loves it.

  • Just found this and plan to make a couple. I wanted to share the fact that WD40 sprayed on the label will take that miserable thing off quickly. Just let it set a few minutes and rub it all off. Needless to say, you will then have to wash it with soap or detergent.

  • If you use channel locks to tighten the allthread put the nuts on first or the threads will get damaged and won’t let the nut ruin all the way down. Or you can put two nuts at the end, snug them to each other and turn the top nut; it will turn the all thread without damaging it

  • Hi, thank you for all the great hints and tips, I have made my first torch but before I light it I am wondering how I can extinguish the burning wick or do I need to wait until it burns itself out?

  • My torches will not stay lit… I have two different kinds of wicks (ordered off eBay), they’ve been soaking tiki oil for a week, the wicks are dry. I’ve tried keeping them short and pulling a little more out of the bottle. So disappointed. I’m having a holiday party next weekend and I have created six of these that won’t stay lit.

  • Try ed all the local hardware stores to find the plate and bottle clamp no one has them. Any ideas where else to look. Tryed Home Depot , lowes, Orchards.

    • A Plumbing Supply store will have plates and rod etc. Plumbers use to hang pipe from ceilings and off walls .

  • For those having trouble keeping the wicks lit you probably have a vacuum issue. As the torch burns, it’s drawing fuel up from the wick. In doing so it can sometimes cause a vacuum to develop which causes the flow of oil to stop. Make sure you have a small air hole or some way that air can get into the bottle. This will break the vacuum and allow the oil to be freely drawn up the wick. Also, if the wick is braided too tight, it can restrict the flow/draw of oil up the wick.

  • Can you add water prior to adding the tiki fuel? The fuel and water separate, making the fuel rise and thus allowing for the use with shorter wicks.


  • What wine bottle is everyone using? Because a 1 inch split ring hanger is too big and 3/4 inch is too small!!! Getting frustrated and need help!!!

  • I was wondering if it was possible to use oil for an oil lamp instead of the citronella and use them indoors. Can I use the same wick or would I need to use the ones that are used for indoor oil lamps and if so how …does anyone happen to know?

  • Anybody looking for bottles, try asking any restaurant that serves wine. I asked a chain restaurant and they didn’t oblige but called a locally owned restaurant and now I have plenty… for free. I also have found that the 3/4″ split ring hanger works on most bottles but not all. It’s time consuming finding ones that fit but you just have to keep asking for bottles till you get what you need. I have found that so far the cost (without bottles) averages between 8 -10 bucks a bottle. That’s including parts and fuel. If you think about it, it’s a few bucks more than a premium torch but this is massively reusable and I would say classier. than a bamboo torch. I haven’t assembled mine but have fitted the split ring and coupling to make sure they fit. I am still torn between water and rocks to minimize fuel cost.

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