So aspiring pumpkin carver and illuminator, you want to make a big splash this Halloween do you? You want to make your mark on the neighborhood with scorched earth and hot pumpkin flesh? The idea of women and children running from your house in terror screaming, "What have you done?" appeals to you? Then you have come to the right place. If you follow my lead, you too can learn how to light pumpkins, The artrojasdesign Way.
Now before we get too far into it, let’s go over a few basics ground rules. Since you are at this site I make the bold assumption that you can read. I will take that one step further and also assume you are not an ignoramus. So, Rule #1, you are indeed playing with fire. In case you weren’t paying attention gasoline is kinda sorta explosive. When you soak a roll of toilet paper in it and then take a lighter to it, it has this uncanny knack of bursting into these wicked flames that shoot three feet into the air. As such, if you aren’t paying attention, it can burn your hands, your hair, your clothes and make your eyebrows disappear. For heavens sake man be careful! It’s all fun and games until you have to go to the hospital with second degree burns. In all seriousness, make sure you pay attention to what you’re doing and take the appropriate precautions.
In order to instill fear and jealousy in your neighbors, here’s what you’ll need.
Pumpkin (God I hope that was obvious)
Gasoline (More is better)
Toilet Paper (More is better)
Pumpkin template (ZombiePumpkins is always a good choice)
Pumpkin carving tool (ZombiePumpkins is always a good choice)
Long BBQ lighter
Remember safety first! The smart pyro is the safe pyro. Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher at the ready and some sand or dirt in case you need to douse the blaze. The shovel and the sand/dirt can also be used should things get out of hand.
Fill a container with gasoline, kerosene or lamp oil. The container can be just about anything – milk jug, 2 liter bottle with the top cut off or butter tub.
Place a roll of toilet paper in the container and soak overnight. It you can’t wait that long at least give it an hour or so. You really want as much gas in that baby as you can get.
So which is better, gas, kerosene or lamp oil?
Gasoline is cheap, but it smells horrid. Plus the flame can be a little unpredictable. Obviously readily available.
Kerosene is cheap, smells bad, but is more easy burning. Also readily available.
Lamp oil, also known as Citronella oil or that stuff you put in tiki lamps. Expensive, but doesn’t smell as bad, burns more "gently" and you can use it to fend off bugs. This stuff starts off slowly and gains momentum over time. Nothing wrong with starting off this way if it’s your first time.
Put it this way, they’re all going to work, it’s just a matter of price and smell. I pretty much always go with gasoline, just don’t store it in the garage, the place will smell like gas fumes pretty quickly. And should there be a spark, there might be some trouble. Store this stuff outside.
Using your carving tool of choice (pumpkin carving kit, wood working tools, teeth, Dremel or power saw) carve your pumpkin into a gruesome caricature. I’ve done Tigg’r pumpkins and cutesy pumpkins with flames shooting out the top seems a little, well, odd, even for me.
Make sure you cut a hole in the top (or bottom) big enough to stick the toilet paper through. You weren’t expecting to actually use the toilet paper were you?
Big open holes let in more oxygen to get the flame going, and let out more light to really put on a display. One thing to note, fire is hot, so delicate carvings are going to get roasted and fall apart pretty quickly. They’ll still look cool as hell, you just may burn their faces off after a few minutes.
Either put on a plastic or latex glove, or using a pair of tongs, place the toilet paper inside the pumpkin. Do not put the lid of the pumpkin back on. You can use the lid to make some interesting effect once you do a few of these, but for the sake of argument, leave it off for now.
With the BBQ lighter, torch that baby! Under no circumstances should you use a match or regular lighter. You’d have to be a complete maroon to light a pumpkin that way! You do want to keep your arm don’t you? Just like fireworks, don’t stick your face over the pumpkin when you light it either. In the grand scheme of things, many people would consider that a bad idea, especially the people at the ER.
If you’re using gasoline, there is going to be a "whoosh" sound when you light this candle, especially if you let it sit for a minute or two and fumes build up. It’s perfectly normal so don’t panic and fall over or go running away from your flaming masterpiece like some sissy girl. Keep your cool and your vulgarities to a minimum. Remember, the kids should fear and respect you, not think you have tourette’s.
That TP roll is going to suck up a lot of air really quickly, so just prepare yourself. It’s all part of the experience. Don’t be surprised if your pumpkin starts to sound like a blast furnace; and puts off just as much heat.
If you still have all your fingers and toes as well as hair and eyebrows then stand back with a big Cheshire cat grin and admire your handy work. Keep an ear out for sirens, your neighbor may not think your pumpkin antics are as funny as you do. If you have the tools, take some pictures and impress your friends. Nothing says kick ass weekend like going into work on Monday talking about pumpkins and gasoline.
With a little practice and diligence you too can turn out some masterpieces like this:
Seriously, safety first.