Since torches prevent mobs from spawning, is it possible to place enough torches within a specific radius to ensure safety during the night? I'm thinking of a situation without any shelter built, more along the lines of a flat plain. If it is possible, how many torches/how far out do I need to go to make that area safe?

  1. Learn about light:

    • Sunlight gives 15 luminance to the blocks it hits directly, or through half steps.
    • Lava gives 15 luminance.
    • Glowstone gives 15 luminance.
    • A Jack-o-lantern gives 15 luminance.
    • A Torch gives 14 luminance to the otherwise empty block it occupies.
    • A Redstone torch gives 7 luminance to the otherwise empty block it occupies.
    • Every tile that isn't a light source has a luminance of one minus the luminance of its neighbors. For example, if you had a 6 and a 4 luminance sources close to each other, attached to a wall, you'd have this distribution:

            1   12321
           121 1234321
           1     12321

      ...except this works in three dimensions instead of two!

  2. Learn about spawning:

    1. The following applies to any difficulty, except for Easy.
    2. Every tile within 24 distance of the player is not eligible.
    3. Every tile outside a 144×144 square centered on you is not eligible.
      • Every non-glass, non-half step surface in the outer world with 7 or less luminance is eligible for spawning.
      • Every non-glass, non-half step surface in the Nether is eligible for spawning.
    4. Mob spawners cause mob to spawn at a high rate in any surface within 5 distance of it.

  3. In practice:

    Here's what I try to do to ensure a luminance of 7 consistently along a line:

    1. Place the first torch. Pardon my hexadecimal one-sided luminance graph:

    2. Proceed until you find two tiles looking exactly like the next, then go back one.

    3. Plant a torch there. Lo and behold, minimum luminance there will be 8!

    4. GOTO 1

    You can adapt this algorithm to your necessities with ease. Just plant a torch in the darkest area when in doubt. (Duh.)


    • Put torches directly onto surfaces for best results.
    • In your mining, be aware that any surface is good enough to spawn...

      ↓↓↓ ↓↓    All positions marked with an arrow are valid
      ███ ██↓   spawning points, to the best of my knowledge,
      █     █↓  and they all can lead to the just spawned mob
      █      █  to reach you.
      █     ↓█
      █↓↓↓↓↓█   Be vigilant and don't mine caves from the
      ███████   bottom up :(
  4. Learn how to keep mob that has spawned outside: make traps.

    • Mobs can only jump up one tile. Make pits deeper than that and, once in, they will be trapped (skeletons are still dangerous and spiders can climb out).
    • Mobs cannot deconstruct. Make walls. (Be aware creepers do explode, if they get close enough.) Use cobblestone: they have high explosion resistance and can't catch fire.
    • Mobs cannot use items. Protect your entrance with a wooden door. Plant it from the outside, or skeletons will be able to hurt you with their arrows!
    • Mobs' path finding is somewhat dumb. Protect your spawn point with water and liberal amounts of cactus (arrange them in a chequered pattern.)
  • The algorithm gives you the least amount of torches you can possibly use to get 8 minimum luminance in a row. That's the bare minimum, and it is useful to know: anything more than that will keep you safe. – badp Dec 8 '10 at 22:44
  • I'm interested in what you said about glass and half-steps -- if I build a fortress out of these two materials, I'll be spawn-free even if I miss a torch or two? Also, does that only count half-steps that make a half-block-high surface, or can I stack two half-steps for a clean white floor (or as the step between a half step and a block+half-step step) and remain mob-free? – PeterL Dec 10 '10 at 1:49
  • One question, just to confirm - so light from two sources is not additive? I would have thought that the light next to the "4" square would also be "4", from 3 + 1 from the "6". – Cyclops Dec 29 '10 at 20:17
  • 1
    @badp, ah, yes, actually, light is additive in the real world :) Also, trains can reach velocities higher than 8 m/s, and leave piles, sadly, do not instantly decay. :) – Cyclops Dec 30 '10 at 16:02
  • 2
    @cyclops Light is additive in frequency certainly. If you wish to discuss this any further may I suggest physics.stackexchange.com? I unfortunately lack formal education in optics, or human perception thereof ;) – badp Dec 30 '10 at 16:37

Torches Provide a light level of 14. Note that this is to the block that they are in. Adjacent blocks have a light level of 13. Mobs require a light level of 7 or less to spawn. This means that mobs can't spawn within 7 of a lit torch. So placing a torch every thirteen tiles will keep a hallway lit.


You can expand this to two dimensions by placing a second line of torches 7 to one side and offset by seven.


See this post


In a straight hallway torches placed on the floor can be 13 spaces apart safely. But in an open area they should be 12 spaces apart, then offset 7 spaces and then 6 spaces, not 7 and 7.

This is confusing until you draw it out. In my examples below the grid on the left is the previously recommended and incorrect 13/7/7 offset; notice how it results in squares with 7 luminance that trigger mob spawns. The grid on the right is the correct 12/7/6 offset resulting in minimum 8 luminance across the board. The green bordered area shows how both 12 or 13 spaces apart are fine for a straight line.

enter image description here

This assumes a level area. YMMV on uneven terrain or elevation changes, so you'll have to double check darker squares' luminance using F3. Once it gets level again you can resume the righthand pattern above.

Likewise the 13 spaces from torch to torch (for 12 lighted spaces between) in a hallway assumes a straight line and torches placed on the floor. Torches placed on the wall are not as efficient, requiring 11 spaces torch to torch (for 10 lighted spaces between). Any turns affect the count.

For an extreme example, torch performance in diagonal/zigzag hallways also depends on where you place the torches. Torches placed on the floor are most efficient by far, illuminating their floor square at 14 and safely lighting 12 intervening spaces between torches. Torches placed on the walls are dimmer and must be closer together, only illuminating the floor squares under them to 13, and safely lighting only 9 intervening spaces! So if you're short on torches place them on the floor.

enter image description here


Mobs will spawn in areas of light 7 or lower. Source

Torches provide a light of 14, with the light value being reduced by 1 for every tile away.

14   13   12   11   10    9    8    9   10   11   12   13   14

Consider the line of light values above. The 14's are torches. If you put the torches no more than 12 squares away, you will prevent any monster from spawning in a straight line; do note however, that if you go with a strictly grid based system, you will have dark "centers" made from the torch squares. I recommend a staggered grid, each line "shifted" 6 squares from the other, so that the light values prevent the centers from getting to dark.

  • I'm looking for a way to make sure that no mobs will exist anywhere in my vicinity by just using torches. If I just stand still with a circle of torches with a radius of 11, will it prevent mobs from walking into the area, or to an extent towards me? – Nick H Dec 8 '10 at 21:10
  • 3
    @Nick - No. Light (aside from sunlight) only affects mob spawning. Once the mob spawns, it can happily move into the light. You have to prevent spawning in the first place. – sjohnston Dec 8 '10 at 21:21
  • @Nick - I misread your question. I apologize. Fallacious comment retracted. – Raven Dreamer Dec 8 '10 at 21:39
  • no problem. I'm having trouble phrasing things today, so it's more likely to be my fault. – Nick H Dec 8 '10 at 21:45

First, some mob spawning science:

  • Spawns occur in a 144x144 square around you (assuming a perfectly flat surface), but not within a 24 block radius of you.
  • Hostile mobs spawn at light = 7 or less
  • A torch provides 14 light to adjacent blocks and one less light per block of distance.

Using these measurements, it looks like you would have to make a grid of torches 13 squares apart that covers a 144x144 block area (excepting the no spawn circle around you, if you like).


All surfaces that are either not a full block (like dirt or stone etc),are leaves or glass of any color or if their are any redstone components that arent full blocks. There is also a "mob cap" where the amount of monsters is so great that the game wont attempt to spawn any anymore, there are ways you can abuse this(nametags, shulkers, and enderman and some others) you wont need to worry about this unless your doing some weird stuff with mob farms or something along those lines. Spawners have a area around them that they check for to see if they can spawn mobs. for example if you have a zombie spawner and their are numerous zombies within the 8x8x3 area they wont spawn. There are alternate sources of light like nether portals and mushrooms but these are mostly impractical.

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