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Flame treating bamboo

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Kcb posted on Mon, Jan 30, 2023 6:21 AM

Can anyone give me some advice on flame treating bamboo?

I have some green bamboo and tried both paropane and map gas. I can kind of get it to work but takes about 30 minutes to get a 12” section to turn tan and even with that sometimes I can’t can’t it to turn with out burning it.

The videos I watched it just seems to go pretty quick and easy

WWBBQ posted on Mon, Jan 30, 2023 6:29 AM

I have found that you need to let it naturally dry first, (in the sun or garage with a fan on it), till it turns tan/light brown naturally. What is happening is there is so much moisture in the green bamboo, all you are doing is evaporating moisture first, before it will burn. Give it some time to dry, then try. Same is true with flaming treated lumber.

I am no expert, are you looking to add color or prevent insects? I read that you need to burn it while green to kill insects and to destroy the sugar that they want to eat, that's what I did. But I also hear that doesn't work and you need to soak them in a borax(?) solution to kill any bugs?

Awesome, thanks! That’s what I was thinking was the problem

Hey KCB, torching bamboo was my very first episode of A Moment of Tiki. You can check it out here: A Moment of Tiki: Bamboo.

Not to disagree with others here, because one should always go with what you find works the best for your personal situation, but I've found dried bamboo much more difficult to work with. It always scorches for me and it's hard to judge the color change. Just using a handheld torch I'm able to get dramatic color change fairly quickly, plus the resin bubbles up to the surface which can then be wiped down to provide a modest degree of weather protection and a glossy finish. You don't get the resin effect with dry culms.

Torching the bamboo won't kill any insects within, so if you live in California or Florida where bamboo weevils are a thing, you'll want to give them a borax treatment. I recently did an episode on that as well: A Moment of Tiki: Bamboo Redux

When I first started getting into tiki--I mean really, really early on--I got ahold of some bamboo and torched it. Kind of. I was terrified of overdoing it so I stopped applying heat once the resin started bubbling up. That left me with culms that were only slightly less green than what I started with. If you'll look at the video linked above, I'm much more aggressive with the flame these days. I put the torch nozzle right up against the bamboo. The trick to avoid burning it is constant movement. You don't have to move quickly, just constantly. Pour the heat on. For the nodes to get color contrast I do move more slowly so as to scorch and get that darker burned look. You might also want to drill tiny vent holes in the clum otherwise the heated air inside may burst some of the smaller, thinner sections. I also think roasted bamboo has a fantastic odor that never gets mentioned. Even my family likes it and they usually roll their eyes at my tiki projects.

Just commit to a couple of practice culms and don't worry if you overcook them. You'll get the hang of it in short order.

Thanks for the reply, it was your video I watched, it went so fast compared to how mine is going, it seriously took about 30 minutes to do a small 12” section


I think you flame for looks and treat with more of a Posin (Borax) type bug killing thing.

Man, think of the eggs flame won't kill those.

I just did a lite flame on the nodes to highlight them, too much flame kills the look for me.

Not a big fan or the leopard spot look.

Good luck.

I've also used a dark wood stain on the nodes which works well.

The only other thing I can think of is the species of bamboo may make a difference? I suspect, but am not 100% sure, that I'm using Golden Bamboo, which was widely planted in Texas in the 60s and 70s as windbreaks and erosion control... until folks figured out that running bamboo can be problematic. I find it very easy (if time consuming) to torch as the color changes are quite predictable. I use a small hand-held torch with the flame set roughly on medium. Too bad we're not closer or I'd invite you to bring some of your 'boo over and put it through the paces to see what's up.


The wood stain is a good idea and much more controllable.

Saw an Anthony Bourdain show where they stuffed the four-inch bamboo with rice and put it in the fire to cook the rice, thought that was cool.


You could probably roast a pig in this stuff! Snap_2023.01.31_11h42m01s_002

Anyone who plants that stuff as a "privacy barrier" is really in for a nightmare!

[ Edited by TIKIGIKI on 2023-02-04 19:15:20 ]

That would be cool, if we were closer

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