How to Make a Smudge Pot

Written by cassandra tribe
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How to Make a Smudge Pot
Garden tiki torches are decorative smudge pots that will keep insects away. (tiki torch image by Allyson Ricketts from

Smudge pots are used for many purposes. They allow oil to be burnt safely to produce smoke that both rids an area of insects. They can also warm plants to protect them from frost. Smudge pots have also been used as warning markers on roads. You can make a smudge pot easily. If you want to make a smudge pot that you can leave unattended, you may want to purchase a metal container designed for that purpose. To make a garden insect repellent version, you will need only a few basic items.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Copper pipe reducer coupling, 1/2 inch by 3/8 inch
  • Wick
  • Wine bottle
  • Kerosene or oil
  • Sand
  • Clay flower pot, optional
  • Matches

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  1. 1

    Pull your wick through the copper pipe reducer. You will want the longer part of the wick to go through the 3/8-inch end of the reducer, so it is the same length as the height of your wine bottle. Let 3 inches of wick protrude from the 1/2-inch end.

  2. 2

    Fill the wine bottle 3/4 with kerosene or oil.

  3. 3

    Feed the longer part of the wick into the bottle until the copper pipe reducer can sit in the open neck of the bottle. Let your smudge pot sit for 20 minutes to allow the wick to soak up the oil.

  4. 4

    Place the bottle where you want it in your garden, and pour sand around the base of the bottle. Use enough sand so that it forms a solid base for your smudge pot, lessening the chance of it being knocked over. A sand pile that rises 4 inches onto the bottle is good. You can also place the bottle into a clay flower pot and fill in the space around the bottle with sand. This will also make your smudge pot more easily portable.

  5. 5

    Light the wick. Do not leave your burning smudge pot unattended. When you are done, cut off the wick where it meets the copper pipe reducer to extinguish the pot. Pull more of the wick through the pipe reducer to prepare to light the smudge pot again.

Tips and warnings

  • You can purchase replacement metal tiki torch pots or actual smudge pots online or at your local home improvement store. You can get pots designed with flues for increased burning efficiency, and in different colours and designs to make their presence more pleasing to the eye.
  • Do not use paraffin oil in your smudge pot. While this is a burning oil that is readily available in most stores for smudge pots and lamps, it will burn too cleanly. Without smoke, your smudge pot will neither warm the air nor rid the area of insects.
  • Always use extreme caution with any fire.

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