How to Safely Light and Extinguish Outdoor Patio Torches

Make your backyard summery and festive as soon as the weather gets warm until it gets cold by adding outdoor torches to your space. Something about the soft glow from a flickering flame adds a sense of comfort to your backyard. Select between fuel-lit and solar-powered torches to create the environment you desire. Use outdoor tiki torches in your backyard or around the patio or deck to create an ambient lighting experience in an affordable way. Whether you’re hosting a wedding reception, a dinner party, or just enjoying drinks outside, tiki torches are a simple yet elegant touch to add to any event. Bonus: You can repel mosquitos and other evening-abundant insects by using a fuel infused with citronella.

Learn about how to place, light, extinguish, and store your outdoor torches safely so you can avoid injuries and continue to enjoy these fun pieces of decoration all summer long.


Outdoor torches can light up the spaces you use to entertain guests most often, including patios, walkways, decks, and fire pit areas. Plan out where you want torches to be placed and how many you will need to adequately light your space. Be careful not to overcrowd your space with torches, as you will still need to be able to move freely between them.

Place torches on level ground approximately 6-8 feet apart to allow people to move around them safely. Be sure to place torches at least 6 feet from your house or other structures, and avoid setting them up underneath trees or overhangs where the torch could burn leaves, branches, siding, or other soft or flammable materials.

Ensure your torches are stable and supported by pushing the spiked ends 6-8 inches into the ground. If the tips are damaged or too difficult to push into the ground, use a torch stake or stand to ensure the torches are secure. Use a rubber mallet to push stakes into the ground. The ground should be soft enough to push the torches and stakes into it, but not soft enough where they are drooping over or falling out of their spots. If you are looking for a more permanent placement for weatherproof torches, dig a hole for each one and fill them with cement when the pole is set.


First thing’s first. Always store tiki torch fuel safely. Read the warning labels carefully before using so you know what to do in cases of dangerous contact with the fuel. Immediately recap fuel bottles and store safely after refilling torches. Always thoroughly wash your hands after handling fuel, especially before lighting torches. Tiki torch fuel will kill grass and garden plants if it comes into contact with them. Fuel will harm children and pets if ingested.

Tiki torch fuel is highly flammable and should be cleaned up immediately if a spill occurs. Soak up fuel spills using kitty litter and then use a commercial cleaner for grease and oil to fully clean up the spill. Fully dry the area by opening doors and windows or by turning on fans. If fuel ever spills out over the rim of a torch or reservoir, allow sufficient time for that fuel to evaporate before lighting the torch. Never move a lit torch as fuel spills may lead to severe burns or cause the wick or container of fuel to fall and create a fire. Always extinguish the torch and give it proper time to cool before moving it.

There are several kinds of fuels for tiki torches, and there are several kinds of fuels not safe for torches. Only use fuel that is designed for outdoor torches. Most torch fuel consists of propane, kerosene, citronella oil, or a combination of kerosene and citronella oil. You can also get solar-powered torches.

Sunnydaze Metal Swirl with Glass Torches

Lighting Your Torches

Before you light your torches, make sure that they are filled to the recommended amount, the wick is submerged far enough, and the wick is an appropriate length. Torches should be filled two-thirds of the way full. Make sure the canister is dry and there is no fuel spillage. Wicks that are too short or too long may be difficult to light or create hazardous situations.

Most outdoor torches can be filled by removing the canister from the torch. Place the container on a flat, stable surface to minimize the risk of tipping and spilling. Always refill torches away from open flames. To fill, remove the ring on top that holds the wick and pour fuel into the top of the container. Make sure the torch is completely cool before attempting to refill it. Rotate the wick’s ring until it pops off the canister, and, using a plastic or metal funnel, slowly pour torch fuel into the container. You only need to fill containers roughly two-thirds of the way full. Replace the wick and ring tightly. Immediately cap the container before placing it back into the torch to avoid spills. If your torch does not have a removable canister, be attentive while filling and pour slowly.

Do not overfill the torch. Filling the torch to the brim will not make it burn longer or decrease how often it needs to be refilled. It does, however, increase the likelihood of spills and accidents if the torch gets bumped. Spilled fuel can cause the entire torch and its surrounding area to catch fire. The submerged wick will absorb the fuel and bring it to the end.

Use a wand lighter or fireplace match that you feel most comfortable operating to light outdoor patio torches. If you are not familiar or comfortable with using lighters, get help from someone who is. Stand a step or two away from the torch as you light it for your safety. Do not light the torch around anything that is flammable. Keep hands, arms, hair, and clothing out of the flames as you light the torch. Keep an eye on children and pets as you light the torch to ensure they don’t bump the torch or get hurt.

Outdoor tiki torch

Extinguishing Your Torches

When your night on the patio, on the deck, or by the fire is over, you will need to put out your torches to both save on your torch fuel and wicks and for your safety. Torches should never be left to burn unattended, whether that be overnight while you sleep, while you are not home, or while you are inside for long periods of time. Always be sure to read the instructions for extinguishing flames, as each brand and torch type may recommend something a little different.

Most torches come with an attached snuffer cap. The cap is usually connected to the top of the wick and fuel container. The snuffer cap serves two functions: an extinguisher and protective wick cap. To extinguish your touch, carefully place the snuffer cap over the wick so that it covers it completely. Leave it in place until the flame dies out completely, and then remove it once more to allow the wick to cool completely. Once cooled, replace the cap to protect the wick from the elements. If your torches did not come with a snuffer or it has been lost, a large candle snuffer will also work.

Propane torches do not require a snuffer cap and should be shut off manually. Be careful not to burn yourself on the flame or any other hot materials while you turn your torches off. Give all torches ample time to cool completely before moving them. Solar-powered torches require neither a snuffer cap nor do they need to be turned off, as there is no flame involved in lighting these. These torches are lit by a lightbulb that is neither dangerous nor costly to run all night long.

Outdoor tiki torches


Always be careful when cleaning up and storing up tiki torches. Most torches are designed to be reused, but double check the labels to ensure your torches are reusable. When storing torches, you may leave the fuel inside them, but be sure to store them upright and secured so they do not tip. You can also remove the fuel canisters from the torch if they are removable and store them on a shelf separately from the torch itself to ensure it does not tip over. Place the snuffer cap on the wick to protect it from weather while it is being stored.

All containers of fuel, regardless of size, should be stored in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location that is sturdy and away from open flames. Only store torch fuel bottles and canisters outside or in non-insulated sheds if your climate will not allow the fuel to freeze. Torches and fuel should be stored out of reach from children and pets. Immediately recap the bottle and store safely after refilling torches.

Sunnydaze Multi-Color Outdoor Tabletop Metal Torches, Set of 4

Tiki torches are a fun accessory to add to your backyard for the summer, but it is important that you are both informed and prepared for caring for these items safely. There are tons of options to fit every budget and for every occasion. Create your dream summer backyard ambiance while still being safe. Enjoy the soft, flickering glow of outdoor patio torches lining the path from your back door to the fire pit or surround your patio with them to keep bugs away while you and your guests enjoy drinks on a warm summer night.

Outdoor living

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