It is that time of year when we must wake up the sleepy orchards so they can get to work on making little cider apples. Before waking the trees you must, of course, scare away all of the bad spirits that have been squatting rent-free over the winter period. What better, then, than a homemade Wassail torch from The Secret Laboratory?
A tin can (OK, they're actually steel these days). Remove the lid entirely and eat the contents. Save the lid.
An old towel or some similar kind of waste rag.
A woodscrew of sensible size.
A squidgy washer, possibly hard rubber or fibre.
A stout stick.
Saw (to prepare your stout stick).
Punch (or some pointy thing that can act as a punch, e.g. a nail).
Hammer (to drive the punch).
Drill with a drill bit of sensible size (see woodscrew, sensible size).
Screwdriver (of sensible size - see woodscrew).
Tin snips. If you haven't got tin snips, nail scissors will do, as long as they're not your girlfriend's).
Using the saw, cut your stout stick to a sensible length, making sure the stick remains sensibly perpendicular to the cut faces.
Assuming your stout stick is vertical, drill a hole vertically in the top of your stout stick. If your stick is not vertical, either return your stick to a vertical position else establish your own local vertical reference by application of cider and proceed with caution.
Punch a sensible sized hole in the base of the tin can (see woodscrew). Place the squidgy washer on the woodscrew and, using the screwdriver, affix the tin can to the stout stick (see diagram). The purpose of the squidgy washer is to prevent fuel leakage from the combustion vessel (tin can). The importance of this can not be overstated.
Punch a hole in the centre of the tin lid and enlarge the hole to a sensible size (see wick) using tin snips.
Roll up a strip of towel or rag, leaving a little pointy wick sticking out of the centre of the roll (see diagram). Insert the wick through the hole in the tin lid and install the assembly in the combustion vessel (tin can).
Instructions for use:
Pour a small amount of paraffin (lamp oil) into the combustion vessel, just enough to dampen the towel AND NO MORE. There should be no fluid sloshing around in there. Return any excess to your paraffin container.
Light the wick and go scare the bad spirits away from the orchards. Wake the trees and let's hope the cider apple harvest doesn't fail!
These things shouldn't need saying but unfortunately they do. If you were a child who wasn't brought up playing and learning with inflammable substances, PAY ATTENTION NOW.
Under NO circumstances should your Wassail torch be used indoors.
Do NOT use your torch near any combustible material (dry vegetation, whatever).
Risk assessment is NOT for dummies. Formulate a contingency plan and establish emergency procedures before using your Wassail torch. Dry sand or earth is always a good thing to have around in these circumstances.
Enforce strict supervision of any parties using (or in the vicinity of) your torch, ESPECIALLY kids.
Petrol and other highly volatile spirits are NOT a good substitute for paraffin. You want a nice slow burn, not a bomb on a stick.
Finally, I cannot accept responsibility for any misuse of your Wassail torch. You're the grown-up.
I hate having to say all that shit but, you know, there are some people out there who need it.