What I used:
- Battery operated green string lights – I bought mine from Lights4Fun
- Fireproof Metal bowl – I used a small cake tin
- Charcoal discs or incense cones – you can pick up the charcoal disks from any esoteric shop
- Charcoal disk holder (optional)
- Mesh (optional, but a good idea for safety reasons)
How to create a smoking witch’s cauldron
1. Place the metal bowl inside the cauldron. I found this cast iron cauldron lurking behind the shed – the previous owners must have left it behind. I knew it’d come in handy!
2. Arrange your lights inside the cauldron, but around the outside of the metal bowl.
Battery lights are great and these ones from Lights4Fun were the perfect length for this project. They provide just the right ambience and, with no need for an electricity supply, can be used practically anywhere.
Remember to protect the battery pack from the elements. Simply hang the pack over the back of the cauldron and wrap it in a dark plastic bag. You’ll never see it in the dark, but you can easily hide it among your other decorations.
3. Place a lighted charcoal disc or incense cone into the inner bowl.
4. Light the charcoal or incense. When lit, charcoal discs will spit a little, so be careful. It will glow red until it catches, before turning white and starting to smoulder.
By their very nature, charcoal discs and incense cones get very hot. I’ve found that neither the cake tin, nor the cauldron get warm at all, but that could be because of the charcoal holder I use (I know that DOES get hot). So, if you’re burning charcoal or incense straight onto the metal bowl, you might want to fashion a cover for it to protect the prying fingers of little trick or treaters.
Alternatively, put up a sign. Caution! Hot!
We’re great at signs in the UK.
Personally, I like to play it safe. I use a cover and then place the cauldron in amongst other decorations, so as to restrict access for visitors.
We wouldn’t want little Johnny getting hurt, now, would we?
Just remember you’ll need to get to the inner bowl to replace the charcoal/incense when it burns out, so you don’t want to make it too difficult for yourself to gain access and you also don’t want to make your cover permanent.
I created mine from the mesh of a metal sieve.
Beloved very kindly removed the mesh from the handle and then we cut the mesh to size and covered the raw edges with the KING of tapes… Gaffer.
When using charcoal discs, you can leave them plain just to give off smoke or, if you celebrate like me, you might like to burn some festival incense for added significance, such as ‘Samhain’ from the ever-magical Glastonbury-based Starchild.
If you’re not lucky enough to leave near the home of Arthurian legend, Starchild festival incense (as well as a range of essential oils, burners and herbs) can be purchased online.
For readers outside of the UK, Starchild also ships internationally.
Good to know!
Charcoal disks can be purchased from any esoteric store. Starchild also sells them and, if you’ve never used charcoal disks before, the website gives useful guidance for lighting and handling them.
In my experience, even the self-igniting discs can take a while to catch, so I use a pair of sugar tongs to hold them – brilliant for avoiding burnt fingers!
It’s also worth noting that charcoal disks give off a LOT of smoke.
They can be used indoors, but be warned…they will fill your entire home with fragrant smoke. Personally, I like the smell, but it’s not to everyone’s taste.