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How to Make a Flying Lantern

The Chinese could make flying Kongming lanterns thousands of years ago

How to make a Flying Lantern

Same as the hot air balloon, the flying lantern is buoyed up by hot air. Making and flying the hot air lantern might be risky. Do it at your own risk

How to Make Chinese Sky Lanterns (very accurate and many tips!)

The top of the lantern/balloon has to be larger than the bottom... this way it has more "lift" at the top, which is what helps keep it upright.


1 paper knife.
2 scissors.
3 pliers.


1 paper. Any paper can be used, but lighter, firmer and less flammable paper is more preferable.
2 ethanol.
3 about 10 grams of cotton. Ethanol and cotton is used as the fuel. You can also use a candle, which is more traditional to some extent. However, cotton soaked with ethanol burns more easily and makes the lantern easier to fly.
4 copper wires.
5 glue.
6 bamboo strips.


1 use the knife to scrape the bamboo into a strip 1 centimeter wide and 0.1 centimeter thick. Bend the strip until it forms a circle and fix it with glue. Bamboo is fairly elastic. If it does not bend easily, bake it with low heat.

2 tie the copper wires on the bamboo circle, forming a cross.

3 cut the paper into adequate shapes and glue them together forming a column, the basal area of which is the same as the bamboo circle. Cut a round-shape piece of paper and paste it on the top. Attach the bamboo circle on the bottom.

4 cut a bamboo strip 10 centimeters long and bend it. Soak the cotton with ethanol and wrap the small bamboo strip. Hang it on the crossing point of the copper wires.

Choose an open spacious place and a clear windless night. Go withyour friends. Hold the lantern. Ask your friend to light the ethanol. When you feel the lifting force, let go. The lantern will leisurely fly up. When the ethanol burns out, the lantern will slowly descend on the ground.

1 Make sure there are no trees or telephone poles near the flying spot. Make sure you have company with you. Wind is not wanted because it might cause the lantern to burn.

2 lighter and bigger lantern may fly more easily. You can also tie a thread on the lantern so that you can control the height and range of the flight as well as reuse the lantern.