Posts Tagged With: camp lighting tips

An Emergency Slush Lamp Hack Using a Torch Plant Leaf

by Todd Walker

An Emergency Slush Lamp Hack Using a Torch Plant Leaf -


Full credit for this hack goes to our Georgia humidity, a buddy of mine, and my fondness for fire.

Trading theory for action is the only way to prove for yourself if something you’ve read or watched will work in real-life. For instance, will dry mullein (Torch Plant) leaves ignite with a ferro rod. I tested the theory and found that they smolder when 3,000 degree sparks landed on their dry surface. Dry is a relative term in Georgia humidity.

Noticing the properties of the once velvety leaves and their ability to hold an ember, an idea lit in my mind. I stripped the dry leafy portion off to expose the pinnate vein. The main vein became pliable with a light coat of coconut oil and absorbed the fuel like dry sponge.


I’ve made mullein torches with my grandson before.


Mullein torch in the backyard

Soaking the dry seed head in oil, resin, or wax makes a great tiki-type torch for night-time illumination. Hence the name Torch Plant. But burning a mullein torch inside a shelter or tent is not advisable. You’ll need a safe, controlled source of light.


Could the Torch Plant leaf serve as a slush lamp wick?


Remember to never leave an open flame unattended.

How to Make Your Own Slush Lamp

Here’s the stuff you’ll need…

  • Small container – Altoids tin, sea shell, aluminum foil, etc. – more container ideas below
  • Fuel – coconut oil, olive oil, cooking oil, rendered animal fat
  • Mullein leaf(s)
  • Beer bottle cap (optional)


Step 1: The Wick

Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) has many practical uses for self-reliance. I’ve listed 27 here. Other natural fibrous plants can be used as well. However, with mullein, you won’t have to twist any fibers into cordage. Simply remove the dry leafy portion from the vein and saturate the wick in oil.

The tallest mullein stalk leaning against my shop measured 9 feet 9 inches

The tallest Torch Plant leaning against my shop measured 9 feet 9 inches

Fashion the bottom of the vein in a simple overhand knot forming a lasso-like loop as the base of the wick. Bend and form the tag end of the wick so that 1/4 to 1/2 inch is above your oil.

The wick in the top corner is two veins twisted together

The wick in the top corner is leaning against the tin’s side

Richard, a friend of mine, recommended using another technique to support the wick. Punch a hole in a bottle cap, feed the wick through and place it on the bottom of your container.

This camp hack is worth the price of admission…

An Emergency Slush Lamp Hack Using a Torch Plant Leaf -


Thanks to Terrapin Beer Co. and Richard’s brilliant idea, my slush lamp took on a new form of awesome!

Step 2: Fuel

I used coconut oil from my bushcraft mess kit. It liquefies once it touches your skin (melting point is 76º F). Apply a generous coat to the leaf vein. Add 1/4 inch of oil to your container.

Place the looped wick in the container with the tip above the oil level. Lean the wick over the outside edge of the container if additional support is needed and there are no bottle caps available.

WARNING: Seems like common sense but I need to add this disclosure. Do not use flammable liquid like white gas or gasoline. It will explode and ruin your day! If this does not compute, take up another hobby.

Step 3: Container

An Altoids tin works fine for this application. Unlike olive or vegetable oils, coconut oil solidifies in colder weather preventing it from leaking all over your pack while on the move.

Simple makeshift containers can be found in nature or crafted from supplies in your pack. Ideas include:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Rocks with an indention
  • Wood with knot holes
  • Dehydrated food pouches
  • Large leafs from sycamore trees laid in a small indention in the ground
  • Duct tape fashioned into a bowl… yep, a crazy amount of uses for this stuff!

Wicks can be added to the long list of uses for this plant. Over a thirty minute test, I had to adjust the hight of the wicks a couple of times. Other than those few tweaks, the slush lamp provided a steady, reliable source of light.

Torch Plant and Fire Craft

Mullein is my most dependable spindle material for friction fire via the hand drill. Below is a picture of two pieces of mullein stalk lashed together to form a hearth board. My old faithful mullein spindle, cracks and all, created a coal in the crevice between the two-stick hearth board.

Mullein on mullein hand drill coal

Mullein on mullein hand drill coal

The take away from this tutorial is to stay curious and observant as you practice self-reliance skills. You never know what you’ll discover!

Hope this helps if you ever need an emergency source of lighting.

What other natural plant material have you used for slush lamp wicks?

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


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Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Frugal Preps, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Uncle Otha’s DiY Fat Lighter’d Torch

by Todd Walker

Uncle Otha was fond of fat lighter’d. He grew up in the first Great Depression, served in WWII, and told campfire stories around his pot of squirrel stew simmering over an open fire. He was a frugal Doer of the Stuff!

One of his trademark skills, besides being the best camp cook ever, was improvisation. He made use of stuff that we (his nephews) often overlooked. Here’s one of his fixin’ ideas. It wasn’t original to him. Pioneers used these years before we arrived on the scene. So, to preserve a lost skill, he passed it down to us.

Fat Lighter’d Torch

Our camp was often illuminated by rustic lighter’d knot torches. A Coleman fuel saver. And way cooler than modern white light. Very Daniel Boone-ish!

You obviously need fat wood to make a lighter’d torch. Don’t have fat lighter’d in your woods? Here’s suggested substitutes from commenters on this post from: Alaska – birch bark; Pacific NW – all coniferous trees; Parts Unknown – dead mimosa tree. The key ingredient for fat lighter’d is the flammable resin. Since it’s in abundance in my neck of the woods, that’s what I use.

Tools and Supplies

  • Cutting tool (axe, knife, saw, hatchet)
  • Fat wood
  • Dead pine branch
  • Fire

Step 1: Find a dead pine tree with a 3 to 4 inch diameter base where it attached to the tree trunk. I found a tree downed by a storm two years ago behind my school. You can use a dead limb on a live tree as well.


My hatchet from my Junk in the Trunk emergency vehicle kit came in handy.

Cut the torch pole about 6 to 7 feet long. This length allows you to anchor it in the ground and provide an elevated light.

Step 2: Remove about a foot of bark off the knot end of the pole (where it met the tree trunk).


I’m using a baton on my axe… not swinging toward my leg!

Once the bark is removed, split the end into four quarters with your cutting tool. Make the splits about a foot into the pole.

Step 3: Collect strips of fat wood in various sizes – from shavings to pencil sized.




Step 4: Spread the splits on the end of your torch pole (step #2) and begin insert a piece of lighter’d at the base of each split to create four distinct quarters of wood. These gaps provide air flow as the torch burns. Sprinkle shavings of fat wood down in the cracks as you insert the larger pieces. Don’t pack the splits too full of kindling pieces. Fire needs air.

I also crush and sprinkle dried pine resin in with the kindling. Not necessary, but adds to the heat.   

Step 5: Make a feathered stick of fat lighter’d and insert it in the top of your torch. Feathering makes more surface area and easy lighting.

Resin-Rich Fat Lighter'd: Nature's Most Prized Firestarter

Feathering fat lighter’d


Notice the dried chucks of pine resin to the right.

Step 6: Light your torch. Apply proper safety procedures with any fire. I burned mine at home over our backyard fire pit.

Uncle-Otha's-DiY-Fat-Lighter'd-TorchThis torch didn’t burn very well. It needed wider gaps in the four splits. Tweak yours as needed.

Here’s a peek at my next “Doing the Stuff” project… Replacing axe handles. I’ll have it up by Friday!


This is the small camp axe I used in the this fat lighter’d torch tutorial. The latex gloves have a purpose. 🙂

Enjoy your fat lighter’d torch responsibly and pass on your skills to the next generation.

Keep Doing the Stuff!


P.S. – You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page. The Doing the Stuff Network community can be found here: PinterestGoogle +, Facebook, and by using the hashtag #DoingTheStuff on Twitter.

P.P.S ~ If you find value in our blog, DRG and I would appreciate your  vote on the “Top Prepper Sites“! You can vote daily by clicking here. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper Sites while you’re there.

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.


Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

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