I was inspired by a post I saw on Pintrest to create a Tiki torch out of copper pipe. It was when I was almost done with the torch, and referred back to the source project list, that I realized I had done a step that the original didn’t do: I had soldered the torch together.
Here is the original inspiration, and if you go through the instructions on it, it’s actually a simple and straight-forward build. It uses a reducing coupler, an air chamber, and a second coupler that (if I remember correctly) is a larger reduction than the first one. Parts for all of this could probably be found for about $15 to $20, and as it involves no mechanical or thermodynamic joining, it’s less than 5 minutes to make it.
My project, however, will take slightly longer…
Start with 1/2 inch copper pipe. Cut off a length, preferably longer than 12 inches. You’ll solder an end cap to one end, and a junction coupler to the other. (Look for a C x FPT coupler, like this one from Home Depot.) This is called a female junction, and this is where you’ll separate the tiki torch to refill it…and put the wick material inside.
Because you have a female connection, you’ll need a male connection for the other end to close the torch back up. Home Depot has them as well, although this particular link goes to a multi pack rather than an individual one. You’ll need another bit of 1/2 inch copper pipe to go into this coupler, and a reduction coupler to hold the wick. I used a 1/2 inch to 3/8 coupler because I was planning on using a roll pin to secure the wick… but the roll pin did not fit through the stop inside the reduction coupler. Both of these couplers will need to be soldered to the small strip of copper pipe you’ve cut. I recommend a couple inches, maybe 5 max.
And that’s really it for the torch. If you want a cap, I used a 1/2 inch cap, and drilled a hole for a small rivet. I got lucky and found a chain remnant at Sears Appliance and Hardware that someone else had measured and cut, then abandoned. So Sears offered it at a discount from the original pricing. The drawback is that it’s 3 feet long. You really only need 8 inches. This chain is basically going to keep the cap near the torch, so you can snuff the flame and store the charred wick. It’s also decorative, but I haven’t tested it out yet. (I did put a small washer between the cap and the chain, just as a spacer. I also used the smallest rivet that came with the Harbor Freight rivet tool, but the measurements escape me momentarily.)
There’s a plumbing part called a “van hanger” you will need to get. This is basically a cone-shaped base with a pair of copper straps that mate to form a complete circle around the pipe. It’s used to support pipe an inch or two off a support beam like a 2×4 inside the wall. There’s one screw inside, or you might get lucky and find one that has four smaller holes for screws around the edge like I did. There’s also two screws that hold the straps tight against the pipe. You’ll need to loosen these to get the pipe inside the strap, but that isn’t hard. Word of advice: attach the base to the wood before you put the torch pipe inside it. (Again, the sample is from Home Depot.)
For a wick, I looked for a variety of options. All the regular wick material I discovered was not long enough. So I ended up using all natural cotton rope. I purchased about 100 feet from Ollie’s, a discount chain. I ended up using about fifteen inches. After you cut the rope, tie a knot close to the end of the rope, and feed it into the torch. (The other end will be fed into the reduction coupler at the the top of the torch.) Now, you’re ready to fill the torch, and tighten the two screw junctions together. You don’t have to tighten it completely, but doing so will prevent leakage. Get some Tiki Torch fuel, and maybe a funnel, and you’re ready for a private party.
Now, a word of caution here. I haven’t fully tested this torch. I do have a couple more planned for later this summer, and I’ll post clearer photos with that build. Total price on this particular build is about $30, but that’s because we’re using some really specialized connections. I’ll see if I can find some better and/or cheaper connections for the next build. Time here is perhaps 20 minutes, most of which is spent waiting for the copper to cool down enough to either handle or stuff all-natural fibers inside.