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What Is in Tiki Torch Fluid?

Image by, courtesy of Steve Jurvetson

Tiki torches are a common way to bring a fun and exotic look to your backyard. The fuel most commonly used in tiki torches is citronella oil, but paraffin oil also is used.


Tiki torches fall into two categories: oil and gas. Gas torches are hooked up to natural gas lines and can burn indefinitely. Oil torches are filled with a particular type of fuel.

Fuel Container

Tiki torches usually contains a lid where the wick is held in place. Fuel is placed inside the lid and the wick soaks the oil, allowing for the flame to be maintained. The flame on a tiki torch will last in proportion to how much oil can be held in the container.

Tiki Torch Fuels

The most popular fluid used for fuel in tiki torches is citronella oil. Paraffin oil, known most commonly as kerosene, also is very commonly used.

Citronella Oil

Citronella oil is an essential oil in lemongrass. It is often used as fuel for tiki torches for its odor that many find pleasant. Citronella also has the benefit of being a natural insect repellent.

Paraffin Oil

Paraffin oil also is commonly used as a fuel for tiki torches because it burns cleanly and has less of an odor than citronella oil. Paraffin oil can be combined with citronella to get its insect-repelling benefits.

Tiki Torches Need Special Oil?

Tiki torches are an excellent way to light an outdoor gathering. They come in two forms: gas and oil. They can be small, and meant for table-top display, or they can be atop a shaft that is meant to be placed in the ground. The "Tiki" tradition of decoration, started in the 1930s, was inspired by Polynesian culture, and gained peak popularity in the mid 20th century. Kerosene, or paraffin, oil is ideal for tiki torch use because of its long burn time and minimal scent. Citronella oil is scented specifically to deter the accumulation of bugs (mosquitoes) around the tiki flame, which can become a nuisance to people using the light of the torch. The easiest way to acquire oil for your tiki torch is to purchase paraffin lamp oil. Price is based on quantity sold.

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