How to Make Movie Torches

movie reel image by Maria Bell from

Things You'll Need

  • Fire extinguisher
  • Large bucket
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Mixing bowl
  • Old t-shirts or t-shirt fabric
  • Wood sticks, clubs or posts

Wielded in scenes with angry mobs, where characters are lost in a jungle or a cave, or to light the streets of period films, torches add a unique sense of light and mood to a movie. If you are an emerging filmmaker and need to create working torches for your movie, long-lasting flames can be made with the use of rubbing alcohol as a fuel. Torches should be made and used only after taking fire-safety precautions.

Make sure a fire extinguisher is on hand.

Fill a large bucket with water and have it on hand for submerging and extinguishing the torches.

Mix together one-part water and two-parts rubbing alcohol in a mixing bowl. Make one-and-a-half cups of the solution for each torch needed.

Tear a strip of t-shirt type fabric to be approximately 16 to 20 inches long and eight to 10 inches wide.

Dip the strip of fabric in the solution. Wring it out enough so the fabric is no longer dripping.

Wrap and tie the fabric around the end of a wood stick, club or post.

Use a barbecue lighter to ignite the torch. Light the torch in an open space. These torches do not produce dangerous embers and the flame stays self-contained, however, they still should not be used in outdoor areas that are extremely dry. Once lit, make sure the torches are kept up and away from the heads of other actors and crew members. A torch should last for at least 15 minutes. It may go out naturally, but if the end of the wood stick, club or post starts to burn, extinguish the torch by dunking the flame in the bucket of water.


About the Author

Mason Howard is an artist and writer in Minneapolis. Howard's work has been published in the "Creative Quarterly Journal of Art & Design" and "New American Paintings." He has also written for art exhibition catalogs and publications. Howard's recent writing includes covering popular culture, home improvement, cooking, health and fitness. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota.

Photo Credits