How To Make A Torch In The Woods

A key element to survival in the woods is fire. It provides protection from animals, purifies water, provides warmth, cooks food and so much more. This is one reason why having a torch is essential to wilderness survival! So if you get lost in the woods, one of the most important things you can have is a torch on hand. Not only will it help you see where you’re going, but it will also keep predators at bay. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to make a torch out of materials that are readily available in the wilderness. 



In the wild, you should have multiple survival skills to rely upon. When you have a few survival skills you are increasing your chances of survival and doing well regardless of what happens. In the wild things can change fast and having the survival skills to face them head-on will be key. 


First Assess Your Environment Around You


To build a torch, you need to first assess your environment and see what materials you have to work with. If you find yourself in the wild, it is important to take stock of your surroundings and determine how you can best utilize the resources available to you. The landscape will dictate what kind of torch you can build, so it is important to be aware of your surroundings and find the best way to protect yourself. With a little resourcefulness, you can build a torch that will serve as a valuable tool in the wild.

How To Make A Torch In The Wild


To build a torch in the wild, you will need to improvise with what you can find. The basics of fire is having fuel, and a lot of common torches that people buy will be petroleum-based fluid. You aren’t going to find propane, gasoline, and the like. So you will need to focus on what you can find.



You will need fluids with fats for the best authentic torch. Things such as animal fat, and household oils such as cooking oils or grease come to mind. If you can find these things, you can prolong your torch’s life significantly. Keep in mind that building a torch in the wild is not going to be easy, but it is possible with some creativity and perseverance.


When Building Your Torch


Torches tend to involve splitting wood first and then filling the gaps with materials for lighting. This has been done for thousands of years for protection when on the move and being able to transport fires across long distances. 


You typically will cut a branch in the shape of a cross in order to create a fork. Or you could split it down the middle.


A Torch Without Fats? 


You may be surprised to learn that you can still build a torch without fats. All you need is some dry combustible material, such as bark or leaves, and a source of ignition, such as a spark from a fire. The dry material will readily catch fire and will continue to burn as long as there is oxygen present.



That being said, I would prefer to have a torch with some liquid that can maintain the flame longer and provide more illumination as well as protection. A torch made with fats will burn brighter and hotter than a torch made without them, making it the ideal choice for all types of torches.

A Torch With Fat


The easiest kind of torch is one that uses fats as a fuel source. In the wild, you might have lamp oil with you or animal fat. The main point is that it is best to soak the torch material be that a cloth or material collected around you in the fat. Then you have allowed the torch to extend how long it will stay alight. If you have a choice between flammable oils, I would go with some kind of cooking oil. 


How To Tight Torch Materials Together


A common issue that a person may face when building their torch is that materials fall out. This could dramatically reduce the time it stays light and more importantly could cause an accidental fire. I use this same method when building a fishing spear. 


The branch’s bark will be used to create rope. If you can find vines, or have string then even better! I use my knife to create rope and then once I have enough can tie the “fork” together. I can use the bark also to build fish traps. I typically use sticks and twine that I find in my environment (or string that I bring). One of the best survival skills to have is having the tools you will need to survive. 


A Simple Torch


This kind of torch will be essential for splitting wood to create a fork. This is easy to do when in the wild. You will then put sticks in between a large branch of wood, in between the fork spikes. These sticks will be pushed to expand the area that you can fill with material for burning. This would be with materials around you like leaves, twigs, pine cones, and anything that is flammable. Think of things that will ignite but also hold a flame. 

The Easiest Torch To Make


The easiest torch that a person can make would be having a branch and cloth wrapped around the top of the stick. The cloth would then be soaked in some kind of fat or flammable liquid so that it will burn for an extended period of time. This is an easy way of making a primitive torch. 


Tree Sap


This is one that I have used before out in the wild and really enjoy it. Tree sap makes a great form of “fat” that we can use for lighting and maintaining our torch. This will depend on where you are located. If you can not get tree sap then you could use the bark of a tree as well. I think tree resin is great. 


I have found that for the best results I will split a large branch and fill it with smaller branches and pine cones. Then I will collect all the sap that I can find until the torch is covered in tree resin. Then I let it “marinate” for an hour, I may add tree bark as well. 


Can Help Start A Fire


When collecting tree resin you can also collect bark if it is not wet. Tree resin is great for starting fires in a wet place. I have used tree resin and small twigs as well as leaves to get a fire going after it has rained. I always have a small pouch of materials to get a fire going, like tree resin. 


You can also use wood shavings in your torch as a great source of kindling for a fire. Wood shavings and tree resin make a great combination when starting a fire. 

Compacting Materials


I have seen people make torches which are good attempts but could be improved greatly. One key point is that they do not compact the materials that will be used to burn enough. Then there are gaps between the materials they collected allowing air to penetrate through the torch. This makes the torch burn out faster. 

So compacting the materials as much as possible is the best, from my experience. 


How To Determine How Long Your Torch Will Last


It will depend on different factors such as wind and climate. Plus what materials are you using? 


I would measure how many feet long is your torch. A successful torch is one that burns further over time and doesn’t fall apart in the first few minutes. A survival torch can make all the difference. The reality is that the larger the torch and more materials you use, your survival torch should last longer. 


What If I Can’t Find A Good Branch Or Stick To Build A Torch Out Of?


Well, you could find two decent enough branches and then use cordage to tie them together. This is what I have done when I was in the desert once and there were not alot of trees. I was traveling at night and needed the protection and light to keep moving. Torches have a place in many survival situations. 



I tied the two branches together and split each of them in two. I did not go for the “fork” way. I then tied the split tops together to form a V in the branches, where I packed them with other branches and brush. I would recommend trying to practice this survival skill so you can always use it. You never know when a survival situation might arise. 


The Best Way To Transport Your Flame


I know that primitive torches can play a key role in wilderness survival! That being said, they don’t last forever and it is a good idea to have a backup way of making fire. 


I typically focus on the burning of wood and how to extend the burning of wood. This is done by making a kind of fire log. I will use a log and then put my coals on top of the log. I will wait till the coals have gone deep enough in the log to where I feel the coals will not be blown away. Then I can transport my coals to my next location. It’s a great feeling having already made fire ready to go. 


You should now have a good idea of how to make a torch in the wild! So know if someone were to ask you about making torches you should be able to steer them in the right direction. Making torches in the wild isn’t hard and can give you a “leg up” to survive mother nature. 


Stay safe!







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