Real life torches - what burns?

I’m working on a game scene with torches. I’ve got smoke and fire, but can anyone tell me - what actually burns in a medieval period wall-mounted torch? I believe it’s oil in a reservoir. Can anyone verify this? I live in GA, not a lot of castles here…


I think I may have found the answer, if anyone is interested. Post 1 is a similar question to mine, post 2 answers it very well.

Discovery Chanel

Probably tallow:-

I bet that’s right. That’s what I’ll assume anyway. Thanks.

It will depend on the style torch. Tallow was used to make cheap smoky candles. Simple oil lamps where more common in upscale homes or taverns. The classic dungeon crawling torch was usually green fruit wood with a rough woolen material wrapped around the end that was covered in pine tar or similar pitch.

Thanks. This has been very informative. It tells me that for my interior candles, I need to add smoke (my modern wax candles barely smoke). For my wall mounted torches, the consensus of what I’ve read seems to be some kind of burlap soaked in rendered animal (any animal) fat sitting in a metal cup. Quite smoky I assume.

I concur with @jestmart, his answer seems to satisfy your question quite adequately.