Kerosene type torches utilize either kerosene, citronella, or an outdoor lamp oil. The torch will typically act as the canister for the fuel, where one end of a wick is in contact with the fuel and the other is lit. A kerosene model’s flame height is dictated by how much fuel is physically present and consumed by the exposed wick above the uppermost fitting. While fiberglass wicks have a longer life, they cannot match the absorption of a cotton wick. Yet, cotton wicks will actually burn down with the consumption of the fuel. This affects how much kerosene is above the wick-holding fitting. Therefore a cotton wick needs to be advanced upward after so many hours.
The two main advantages of Kerosene type torches are cost and flexibility. Although kerosene torches are slightly less expensive than gas torches to begin with, the savings is really found in the installation. Generally, when a kerosene torch is installed, costs are limited to the price of the pole (not included with the torch head), and the time taken to dig a small hole for securing the pole in the ground. This can be done with a post hole digger. A homeowner then has the option of whether to simply hard-pack the dirt around the pole or to fill the small hole with concrete for a truly permanent installation.
Flexibility is also greater with the kerosene torch. Because the torch is not dependent upon an underground gas line, the kerosene torch can be placed virtually anywhere in the landscape, bypassing the need for trenching. For this reason, this type is ideal for those who already have existing landscapes. Should the homeowner only want to have a kerosene torch out for part of the year, a metal sleeve slightly bigger that the pole diameter can be left in place to allow removal of the pole and torch head.