How Did They Make Torches in Ancient Times?

Torches have been used by humans for thousands of years for a variety of purposes. From lighting up dark corners to signaling to others, torches have served as an essential tool throughout history.

But have you ever wondered how people made torches back in ancient times? Let’s take a closer look.

Materials Used

In ancient times, people used a variety of materials to make torches. The most commonly used materials included dried plant material, animal fat, and resin.

Dried Plant Material

Dried plant material was the most commonly used material for making torches. People would gather dry grasses, reeds, or straw and bind them together using twine or other natural fibers. The resulting bundle was then dipped in animal fat or resin to create a makeshift wick that would burn slowly and steadily.

Animal Fat

Animal fat was another popular material for making torches. People would collect the fat from animals such as cows, sheep, or pigs and render it down into a liquid form.

The liquid fat was then poured into a container such as a clay pot or hollowed-out gourd. A wick made from dried plant material was then inserted into the container and lit.


Resin was often added to dried plant material or animal fat to make the torch burn brighter and longer. Resin is a sticky substance that is produced by certain trees such as pine trees.

It has excellent adhesive properties and burns slowly when exposed to heat. People would collect resin from trees and mix it with their other materials before shaping it into a torch.

Making the Torch

Once the materials were gathered, making the torch involved a few simple steps:

  • Gather your materials – dried plant material, animal fat, resin.
  • Bind the dried plant material together using twine or natural fibers.
  • Dip the bundle in melted animal fat or resin to create a makeshift wick.
  • Allow the torch to dry completely.

Uses of Torches

Torches were used for a variety of purposes in ancient times. Some of the most common uses included:

  • Lighting up dark areas such as caves or underground tunnels.
  • Signaling to others over long distances.
  • Cooking food over an open flame.
  • Warding off animals or insects.

The Evolution of Torches

Over time, torches evolved as new materials and technologies became available. For example, people began using beeswax and tallow instead of animal fat, which burned cleaner and longer. They also started using metal containers instead of clay pots or gourds.

Today, torches are still used for many of the same purposes as they were in ancient times. They are often used in outdoor activities such as camping or hiking, as well as for emergency lighting during power outages.

In conclusion, making torches in ancient times was a simple yet effective process that relied on readily available materials. While the materials and techniques may have changed over time, the basic principle remains the same – create a source of light that can be carried and used when needed.