What’s really in tiki torch fuel?

by Susan Tysonby

Common, big-box store Tiki torch fuel is a petroleum-based product. What this means is it has been distilled from crude oil. Crude oil is made up of hydrocarbons, which contain a lot of energy. Many of the chemicals derived from crude oil like gasoline, diesel fuel, and of course, tiki torch fuel, utilize this energy.

There are alternatives to using tiki torch fuel in your torches and we don’t suggest kerosene as it makes tiki torch fuel look clean! The reason you would want to use another fuel is the fact that tiki torch fuel stinks, produces lots of smoke and soots up everything in the vicinity.

Here’s a soot and burn test video to show you the various alternative fuels.

The combustible element of torch fuel is in a chemical group called naphthas. These are liquids that fall somewhere in the distillation process between light gases and heavier liquids like kerosene. There are different grades of naphthas, and the class widely used as solvents also makes a very effective fuel for your torch.

Many torch fuels on the market have also added low concentrations of Citronella or Lemongrass oil to repel insects. The Citronella scent confuses mosquitoes, making it difficult for them to locate a host. We’ve found that adding Eucalyptus oil is also a very effective way to shoo away the bugs, and it’s even been proven by the CDC to be as effective as DEET. With or without added essential oil, tiki torch fuel will smoke, so it’s for outdoor use only.

The absolute best mosquito tiki torch fuel is Safe & Green with Guardian. NO KIDDING. This stuff really works even when NOT LIT. The Standard Hotel in Miami is one of our customers and they’re thrilled with the performance.

To sum it up, the tiki torch oil you’re buying is petroleum distillate specially selected for its safe, burning properties. Note the words “specially selected” – a can of solvent from the local Home Depot does NOT equal tiki torch fuel. Improvising on your torch oil means running the risk of poisoning your guests with toxic fumes or setting your patio ablaze. At the very least, using low-quality or non-torch fuels will gum up and clog the wick, which seriously limits your torch’s performance.

Please don’t play with fire – only use fuels specifically created for use with your tiki torch! I know I’m not alone in my research – what’s the most unusual suggestion you’ve found to “make your own tiki torch fuel”?

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Susan Tyson

VP Marketing at Firefly Fuel, Inc.
VP of Marketing at Firefly Fuel, Inc - An innovative, eco-friendly company supplying refillable oil candles and green fuel to homeowners, restaurants and resorts.
  • Terry Ede

    Good comment on Torch Fuel, safety, and common sense. Any idea where larger (maybe less expensive) quantities might be purchased. Buying a 5 or 10 gallon container may make more sense that in 1/2 gal jugs.

    Thank you,
    Terry

  • A.J.

    In a sluggish economy, some people are going to try saving $ wherever they can, and “tiki” oils are sometimes marked up for what they are. Those blog articles note that something like the kerosene used in lamps and shop heaters can be of high grade and clean burning, so people are going to try it. It may not smell nice (not that tiki smoke does) but unless there’s a specific hazard highlighted (like some kerosenes being too low in flash point), they’ll likely keep doing it.

  • joe smith

    You claim:
    Lemon Eucalyptus oil is also a very effective way to shoo away the bugs, and it’s even been proven by the CDC to be as effective as DEET.
    Can you provide a reference for that? There is not proven alternative to DEET.

  • Pyro

    This is total BS. Any fuel designed to burn in a lamp with an exposed wick will safely work in a tiki torch. Tiki torch fuel is lamp oil with a huge mark up an a tiny amount of lemongrass and citronella. Plain and simple.

  • Pyro

    This is total BS. Any petroleum based lamp fuel designed to burn in a lamp with an exposed (open air) wick will safely work in a tiki torch. Tiki torch fuel is lamp oil with a small amount of citronella and lemongrass and a huge mark up. Plain and simple.

    • Phil

      Hi Pyro,

      You are correct that any petroleum based fuel DESIGNED to burn in a lamp with an exposed wick will work.

      You fail to note that there are fuels and there are fuels.

      Firefly Fuels are the HIGH TEST of fuels that burn easily and safely in all Tiki Torches and Lamps using good quality fiberglass wicks.

      We tested all of the available lamp and tiki torch fuels on the market and found quite a performance disparity and significant flash temperature differences. Lower flash temps mean more flammability. Higher flash temps mean less flammability. Firefly Tiki Torch Fuel has a higher flash temp than any of the fuels we tested, is considered a combustible product rather than flammable and can be shipped safely via UPS or FedEx.
      The next criteria we tested for was burn time. Firefly Fuels consistently burned longer and, in some tests, actually burned twice the time of competitive Tiki and Lamp oils.

      Our testing also evaluated wick response and life. The wick is the heart of any quality tiki torch. Wicks become clogged by low quality fuels causing reduced flame, dirty burns and short burn times. Firefly Fuels work well with any tiki torch or lamp, utilizing a fiberglass wick, providing a great flame color, long clean burns with no “clogging” of the wick.

      Fiberglass wicks are the preferred wick for safe operation of any lamp or Tiki torch. Cotton wicks can be used but actually are consumed during use. The ends become charred causing reduced wicking, much shorter burn times, dirty burns and constant wick maintenance.

      Additives such as Citronella and Eucalyptus essential oils have been found to act as insect repellents when mixed in appropriate amounts with Firefly Fuels. In our experience the Eucalyptus oil is most effective in repelling pesky insects.

      The most effective, best mosquito repellent is Guardian which is a blend of essential oils. It is only available in our Safe & Green tiki torch fuel.

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