A Better TP Lantern

The discussion of torches and immolient soaked toilet paper rolls got me thinking: Surely there must be a way to have flaming textiles or paper products portably contained in such a manner as to avoid burning through their support structures or leak through the non-factory joined seams of their containers. To that end I’ve devised (probably re-invented) the hanging lantern on a stick (a.k.a. “flail lantern”).

Assembly of this wonderous device requires the following tools:

  • Staple gun or other wood stapler
  • Pliers
  • Tin snips
  • Hammer and nail (or punch)

And Materials:

  • Wire clothes hanger or other stiff wire
  • Coffee can (one large enough to hold a roll of TP, and a second which can be smaller)
  • Carabiner or faux-carabiner keychain
  • Keychain ring
  • Stick of desired length (generally 3-6 ft.)
  • Flammible liquid (not gasoline)
  • Toilet Paper or some similar tightly packed combustible wicking material

I’m not going to give detailed assembly instructions here, hopefully most of it can be figured out from the picture. There are a few specific details about this thing I’d like to point out though:

  • The staples are probably important to have so that the wire wrapped around the pole doesn’t just slide back and forth allowing the lantern it’s self to strike the carrier or come off the end of the stick.
  • Unlike other torches I’ve seen using the TP in-a-can configurations nothing pokes up through the bottom of the can so there are no non-factory seams which might leak.
  • The main body of this thing is likely to get pretty darn hot. Avoid touching it once lit. If you must do so use leather gloves or pliers.
  • All the parts of this thing that are likely to get hot are made of metal. The roof/lid is there partly to prevent rain from getting in but mainly to prevent the flames from leaping up and burning the stick.
  • Originally I thought of using this with kerosene soaked TP. When we did this in my youth I don’t remember the flames getting that high. However, the pumkin experiment suggests that the flames could be very intense. Enough so to surround the roof/lid and lick the stick. To avoid this it might be useful to see how well it works to soak the TP in lamp oil or something else less intensely flammible instead.
  • Having it on a stick (especially a long one which can be gripped across teh body with both hands) should allow the linkboy to keep the lantern away from their body for better visability.

Option: It’s probably not really necessary to cut two openings on the main body of the thing. In theory you could just have one opening so light comes out in one direction… or you could not leave any openings and just puncture a whole lot of tiny nail holes in the can in decorative patterns to let a diffuse light seep out.

Sadly living in the inner city as I do, and with fire codes and concerned citizens being what they are, I’m not sure when I’ll ever get to try this out. Plus I really don’t like coffee that much and would hate to waste a whole can just to make the thing.

About Peter

This guy lives in Boston MA with his beloved wife and two kids. You can get some idea of his likes and dislikes from posts on this website or elsewhere.

5 thoughts on “A Better TP Lantern

  1. Aha, I haven’t seen/heard the words “tin snips” since elementary school.

    I’ve still got some lamp oil. Maybe when Loki and Bear come down for Xmas, we’ll have to try this. They’ll have to provide the coffee can though.

  2. Very cool picture. However, I have an ominous feeling that next Protocon someone is going to wind up setting themselves on fire. Knock on wood that they don’t.

    I think you should devise the “portable/better waterclock” next Dragon.

  3. Dick – change my last comment to, someone might set themselves on fire as early as X-mas. Knock on wood (again) that they don’t.

    Bear is pissed at me because I have about a 2 year stock of coffee. As soon as he reads Dragon’s post, I can almost guarantee he’ll dump a whole can of ground in the trash just out of spite so he can free up space in the bathroom/onion room. When he does, I’ll be sure to get the coffee can so we can make the lantern and play some Cultima.

  4. I hope you guys are able to do it, because that would be super cool to see on film. But, as Mike said, I do hope you all are safe about it and don’t blow anyone up, because it would be really hard to find a last-minute date for New Year’s.

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