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 love these things, theo only thing I changed was by putting 1/2″ copper pipe cut to length covering the threaded rod

  • I made these today. The harder part is finding the items at stores to make them. The easy part is putting them together. I did 5 in 35 minutes complete! Great idea and pretty even unlit!

        • I tried my local Lowes since others had reported success there, but was unable to get half of the mounting hardware. Many pieces were not available in 3/8″ size. I opted just to get the wicks, oil, couplings, and caps to make a pair of unmounted lamps, but haven’t bothered to use them (because cats, dogs, and small children .) Hoping to get the rest of the parts and put these things up to be used and enjoyed soon!

  • Love the idea! Made some as a gift and added “jewelry” around the neck of bottle by using copper colored trinkets and chain purchased at Michael’s. This gave it nice bling. Also spray painted rod and nuts with hammered copper outdoor spray paint to look more uniform. Added the same chain to the cap by drilling a 1/16 hole and securing with copper jump ring. Added jump ring to other end and placed on screw prior to tightening split ring hangar. Thanks for sharing this great idea!

  • Shattered bottle….. Not sure what happened. Made four of these tonight and after being lit for about 20 minutes, the bottle shattered on one. Wick was about 1/2 inch. Will be highly disappointed if it happens to the others ones. Any suggestions one why that might have happened?

  • Nancy
    My wine bottle necks were too small as well. I took some copper wire and wrapped it below the lip of the bottle. I then tightened the clamp. You don’t even want to know what I tried the first time. I actually caught one of the bottles as it was falling to the concrete to save it. I’m just glad it was not lit. The copper wire has worked so far.

  • Please be careful…DO NOT blow them out…use a snufter…I had a tiki explode and I received 2nd and 3rd degree burns on my neck, ear and cheek….All I did was blow it out and it exploded. Personally I will never use tiki fluid again.


  • Looks like a molotov cocktail variant. Wouldn’t consider doing this around anything I didn’t want to bet set on fire, in any household with children of any age or around people who imbibed a bit too much of the liquid the bottles initially came with. Just saying.

  • I made six of these! They looked AMAZING, sadly the wicks won’t burn. We let them soak for over a week…and even turned them around…but they burn about ten mins and then slowly go out…I was thinking of buying the oil burning wine wicks…thoughts?

    • I’m having the exact same problem. I am at my wits end on this. I even drilled a hole into the bottle, I thought it needed some air flow. Still no luck. Out in less than 2 min’s.

      • I had a similar issue. What I had noticed was that the fuel level did not substantially cover the submerged wick. I topprd off about 2″ below the mouth of the bottle and got a safe burning, consistant flame.

  • The key to getting the wick to burn is to only expose about 1/4″ of it. If your wick is too long it won’t burn. Pull a very small amount of wick above the coupling and light. It will burn for hours.

  • so my son and I did these, more my son, but the cord fell inside the bottle and the wick did not burn very well on most of them
    that am i doing wrong

  • I just made these and here are the parts with applicable item number/parts number
    at Lowes:
    *3/8″-16 threaded rod
    *3/8″-16 hex nuts
    #10x1in wood screws
    *3/8″ galvanized steel ceiling flange item#301689
    *1/2″x3/8″ reducer coupling
    *1/2″ copper cap item#186096
    *1″ copper plated split ring hanger item#301353
    *replacement tiki torch wick
    I simply spray painted the galvanized parts with hammered copper spray paint and the looked AWESOME! Total cost was about $8 each

    ….and ladies, if you’re wearing lots of hairspray or other flammable hair products DO NOT put you face up to the flame to blow it out!!!
    Geez people use common sense!!!

    • Thank you for the item numbers. No on had a clue what I was asking for until I gave them the numbers

  • Hey, need a little advice. I made this tiki torch today it worked great. Used an old patron bottle so no left over alcohol residue. I lit it for a brief moment then put it out and about an hour later it exploded. It was it due to pressure build up because it had some space to breathe and not have buildup. Any idea why it exploded?

    • How tight was the seal? I used old metal bottle caps, loosely crimped. Some booze bottles have tight tolerances when capped. You may need to let it breath a bit. Also, keep a low flame(short wick) to start off. Low heat will help temper the glass and keep it from shattering.

  • I finally have a use for my alcoholism… lol

    Great ideas this is just what I wanted for my garden!! Thanks! Keep the ideas coming lol

  • The fence we want to mount these to gets a lot of sun – is there a risk of darker colored bottles heating the oil too much during the day? The empty darkroom green bottles were pretty hot to the touch today, so I haven’t bee brave enough to fill them yet.

  • Can I use solder on the copper coupler instead of plumbers tape or will the heat from the flame of the torch melt the solder?

  • Awesome idea! My wife and I recently had our wedding reception in our backyard and lined our fence with these. The lighting and complements we’re were endless.

  • Awesome Idea. Just cant wait to try to make these. One question though how do you pull more of the wick out when it has burned to the end? Thanks :)

  • I made two of these tonight for my mom to place on her patio table. She loves to sit outside under the carport but the mosquitoes chase her in way before she is ready. I used a couple of beer bottles instead and then glued them to a painted clay saucer for added stability. I was worried about the small nieces and nephews bumping the table and knocking over a flaming bottle…. just lit them up for a test run and they are fabulous!!! Going to make one more :)

  • To solve the problem with the wick falling into the bottle, I drilled a 1/16″ hole through the Copper Coupling (#5) and put a cotter pin through it and the wick. It seems to hold it up just fine.

  • Excellent!!!! Took me a trip to Lowes, got exactly the hardware as listed, an hour to put together four of them and show it off to wifey….Too good. Made one with a fancy indian rum bottle, to make it a conversation piece. Am going to start giving these as gifts when we go to friend’s homes.

  • A couple of comments I learned along the way with the bottles I have done. To help prevent the wick from falling through I put round glass marbles in the bottom. This also helped to use less fluid. I also had an issue with the flame not staying lit so I pierced a hole in copper just above the plumber’s tape. This allowed for air to circulate and keep the flame going.

  • Awesome Idea. Just cant wait to try to make these. One question though how do you pull more of the wick out when it has burned to the end? Thanks too

  • I found all the parts at Lowes!!

    The big issue here is that the wick only goes 1/2 down the bottle. I’m thinking about filling the bottom 1/2 of the bottle with sand so I don’t waste tiki fuel. Anyone else??

          • I used pea gravel, just rinsed them first to get all the gunk off them. My problem now is the bottle getting hot so put them out for now. Thinking about getting a longer piece to put the wick in.

  • Some updates on finding parts for this project:

    Home Depot and Lowes don’t seem to carry items 3 & 4 anymore (at least, not here in Tucson, AZ). Nor was I able to find them at any plumbing/gas hardware shop, or the ACE store with the largest selection of hardware I’ve seen. I did find them on-line here:
    3. https://secure.lifeandhome.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=+42917575+&x=0&y=0
    4. https://secure.lifeandhome.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=%3A+42917568+&x=0&y=0

    Wicking can be obtained in on-demand lengths here:

    I just ordered the above items. While I’m waiting, I’ll be drilling the vent holes in the couplings (item 5) and sourcing some washers to use under them instead of the Teflon tape.

  • My wife found this post this morning. I finished hanging 12 of these in my backyard. What a great idea. Found all of the parts at lowe’s.

  • Really liked the idea, bought enough for 8 so far. I also purchased everything from Lowe’s. The only thing I changed was I went with a 3/4″ split ring since my bottle necks were much too small for a 1″.

  • I’ve made these and they look beautiful however I haven’t lit them yet because I’m worried about the comments I’ve read about the bottles exploding. Any prevention tips so mine don’t explode? Should I use an equal ratio of water and fuil to fill the bottles or just the tiki fuil?

    • Don’t mix water and fuel. You’ll get slightly flammable salad dressing. Remember, water and oil (or Tiki fuel) don’t mix!

  • Bought all the hardware to make these this weekend. I’m using Alhambra Reserva 1925 bottles for it – smaller than wine bottles and really cool looking. These will be mounted to my deck railing along with bottle openers and mason jars as cap catchers.

    • Use a split clamp on both ends. put thin layer of rubber sheeting inside of clamp to hold bottle, and onto fence post.

  • i am using a tequila bottle that is long, replacement wick is less than half the bottle. has anyone tried 100% cotton piping material that can be purchased at Joanne fabrics (The stuff used to make cording around a pillow or cushion)

  • This is a good-looking and achievable project that is very different form something you’d see at Home Depot…its glass, filled with flammable fluid, and hangs from a wall with DIY hardware. Now the alcohol impaired guests at my next bar-b-que can now be surrounded by homemade hanging Molotov cocktails. From someone who has undergone reconstructive surgery from burns, I recommend against this project.

  • I want to put these on a stand that goes into the ground so I could put them in my garden. Has anyone experimented with that? Or has any suggestions on how or what materials would be best to do this?

    Thanks in advance!

  • The use of dissimilar metals (zinc/copper) will cause galvanic corrosion eventually. The support rod will break will potentially catastrophic results. Use of all copper rod and mounting screws will eliminate this eventuality.

  • Really easy fix for the wick not reaching the bottom of the bottles, add water first. Will the bottle with water to just below where the wick ends. Then add oil. The oil will rest right on top of the water. SCIENCE!

  • I purchased my supplies @ Lowes. I will supply the items numbers for easier reference. Just ask an employee to put in item number on the computer and they will tell you what isle and location it is at. For the most part, all supplies are located in the “plumbing” section.
    Just a couple of personal ideas that I did:
    Wick is to be set at no more than the recommended 1/4″.
    I did drill (2) small holes into the copper fitting to allow for somewhat of air to flow. Drill bit 1/16″.
    I also did buy some small marbles from BB&B to take up some of the room and to allow stoppage of the wick from coming down.
    No problems at all….burns till you put it out !!

    Item Numbers:
    22623 – 1/2″ x 3/8″ reducer coupler
    21664 – 3/4″ copper cap
    301353 – 1″ Hangar
    301689 – Flange
    69888 – 3/8″ x 3′ threaded rod
    63303 – 3/8″ hex nut

    • I want you to know that this helped me a lot. Thank you for taking the time and putting down Lowe’s skew numbers.
      It helped me not waste my time and not have a inpatient husband.

  • PLEASE HELP, we made 12 of these and put them along the fence in the backyard. Used all the correct parts, followed instructions and now the wicks will not stay lit. We even read through the comments did everything other people have suggested and STILL NO FAME!!!! We spent way too much money on these for them not to work. Maybe next time we will try the first one out to see if it works before we make them all. I really do not want this to be a failed pinterest project. PLEASE PLEASE lent some advise.


  • I saved a wine bottle that is “sleeved”…. The bottle is not clear….it has a solid coating on it all around it, top to bottom… No clear glass area anywhere on it…..you may have seen the brand, Relax….do you think that may be a problem? Should the bottle be clearer?

  • Two issues I’d like to address:
    1 – The exploding lamps. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN the screws on the clamp. Any pressure on the glass combined with heat may make them explode.
    2 – The wick going out – The wick can only suck the oil up the wick so far. If you don’t fill it most of the way full, the wick will only burn that is in it when lit, but can not draw the oil up to the fire, so it gradually will burn out.

    I hope this solves a few of the issues with this project.

  • Trying this with a patron bottle with bigger opening, is it okay if there is air space around the wick ? I have the copper snug with tape but the copper is larger than the wick

  • to help wick from falling in bottle, I used the 1/2″ x 1/4″. I found that the wick is to loose on the 3/8″.

  • I made 12 of these. I did not like the short wicks from Lowe’s so I found some bulk wick on eBay, got it on the way and will replace the short ones before I fire them up. Some great ideas int he comments, thanks to all that have made other suggestions!

  • I looked through all the comments to see if this was a successful project, but nobody ever said anything about the bottle (especially when filled with marbles) being too heavy. Did this ever happen to anyone?

  • I made a few but the fiberglass wick I bought is half and inch 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.

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