diy project: erik’s recycled wine bottle torch

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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!

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[****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.

materials

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

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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.

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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.

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Good Luck!

Erik

  1. MJ says:

    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.

    1. jerry says:

      Just fill the bottle to the top with fuel, eh?

  2. sherbob says:

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

  3. Paul says:

    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.

    1. Steve says:

      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.

  4. Harry says:

    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.

  5. tony says:

    They are pipe clamps and threaded rod …for me this is a waste of time and wouldnt bother ….

  6. Anthony Navarro says:

    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?

  7. Dawn says:

    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.

    1. AJ says:

      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.

      AJ

      1. Barb says:

        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.

  8. Jennifer says:

    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?

    1. sdterp says:

      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.

  9. Tracie says:

    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!

    1. Ashley says:

      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!

  10. Fox says:

    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.

    1. Amanda says:

      Thanks. I was wondering the price of the project.

  11. Patrick says:

    Hi Fox,
    Where did you locate the brass chain? what size is the brass chain?

    1. Amanda says:

      You can find the brass chain at any home hardware store or a local one- like a mom and pop shop.

      1. Sabrina Rehnke says:

        I still can’t find the chain. Can you provide more specifics?

        1. Nancy says:

          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.

  12. Mark says:

    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.

  13. Gregson Edwards says:

    Where can I purchase the set up
    for example..Loews, etc.
    Thanks

    1. Amanda says:

      Parts can be purchased at Lowe’s and Home Depot.

  14. Roger says:

    Yes you can put water on the bottom of the bottle. The fuel floats on water

  15. Dannielle Raper says:

    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

  16. Lisa says:

    I can’t seem to get the wick inserted into the coupling. Any tricks?

    1. Bill says:

      Wrap the end in tape

  17. Amanda says:

    So what does the project cost you in parts? Thanks.

  18. Russ says:

    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.

  19. Amanda J says:

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

  20. Baltimore Matt says:

    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!

  21. Jodi K says:

    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

  22. Kim A says:

    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?

  23. Mickey Mainland says:

    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.

  24. Rachel says:

    Where can I find clear tiki fluid ?

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