What’s really in tiki torch fuel?

Common, big-box store Tiki Torch Fuel is a petroleum-based fluid. What this means is it has been refined 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 fuels, utilize this energy.

Time-lapse soot and burn test video to show you the various alternative fuels.

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.

And, for those who are looking for Homemade Tiki Torch Fuel, a word of warning.  I've seen some recipes that are extraordinarily dangerous that use Isopropyl alcohol which is highly flammable.  It does not require a wick to burn.  If the torch were to fall over, you could have a runaway flame. Argh!

  • tiki torch fuel 1 gallon

    Tiki Torch Fuel

    Select options This product has multiple variants. The options may be chosen on the product page
  • eco-friendly pure paraffin lamp oil 128 oz

    Candle Oil – Paraffin Lamp Oil

    Select options This product has multiple variants. The options may be chosen on the product page

Firefly Fuel tiki torch fuel ingredients are DIFFERENT. We offer Proprietary, Eco-Friendly, Non-Toxic and Readily Biodegradable, Non-Petroleum-Based Fuels for all your lighting needs.

Many torch fuels on the market have 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. Other essential oils like Eucalyptus are actually repellents. There are a variety of essential oils that are distasteful to insects that can be added to tiki torch fuel like Cedar Oil, Eucalyptus, Geraniol, and believe it or not one of the best repellents is Catnip Oil; but it is very expensive.

While adding essential oils to tiki torch fuel is effective, it is expensive.  I would suggest another approach.  We designed the Firefly Zen and Zen Petite Oil Lamps for just that purpose ... to flood the area with scent that repel insects. They both feature an "Aroma Deck" where you place several drops of your preferred essential oil.  More drops more scent. This will work beautifully and save you a lot of money.

Of note regarding smoke, the larger the wick, the more potential for smoke.  Keeping the wick set ever so slightly above the wick holder, just a nub, will reduce smoke and conserve your tiki torch fuel. Smoke is a result of incomplete combustion. So you want to hit that sweet spot.  Also, wind will break the flame, again causing incomplete combustion and produce puffs of smoke.

The absolute best tiki torch fuel is Firefly Tiki Torch Fuel as it burns longer, biodegradable, lower smoke, virtually odorless. The Standard Hotel in Miami is one of our customers and they're thrilled with the performance.

To sum it up, Firefly tiki torch oil is 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"?


  1. Terry Ede on February 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    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,

    • susi on March 20, 2012 at 6:58 am

      Hi Terry,

      All of our fuel is now available in 5-gallon containers.

  2. A.J. on June 18, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    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.

  3. joe smith on September 22, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    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.

  4. Pyro on September 28, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    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.

  5. Pyro on September 28, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    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 on September 30, 2012 at 8:56 am

      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.

  6. John Marciniak on March 15, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    Can I use guardian in my kerosene lanterns?
    Specifically Dietz and W T Kirkman tube lanterns.

    • Susan Tyson on March 16, 2016 at 9:55 am

      Yes. I would caution you to completely empty the old fuel, get it as dry as possible and use a new wick.